Lewis Hamilton denied he was trying too hard under pressure of the title battle after making two mistakes and qualifying ninth in Austria.
His Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg starts third and has now out-qualified Hamilton for three races.
"I don't think I'm trying too hard," said Hamilton, who is 22 points behind Rosberg in the championship.
"I went for pole. Hindsight's a wonderful thing, but I'm there to be first, nowhere else."
Hamilton ran wide at Turn Eight on his first lap in final qualifying and spun braking for the second corner on his last attempt.
"My laps have been pretty good all weekend and I knew I had extra time in my pocket," Hamilton said.
"I pulled it out for my first lap but didn't finish the lap and then the second time around I took the car into unknown territories I guess. But there's a long way to go.
"We had a lot of pace in the car so it hurts a little bit in the gut but I'll try to make up for it tomorrow [in the race]."
Rosberg was beaten by Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, and blamed Hamilton's spin for preventing him from taking pole, saying he lost time as a result of the incident as he was behind his team-mate on the track at the time.
"That's an if and when and whenever," Rosberg said. "For sure it stopped me from having a shot at it. I don't know whether it would have worked out or not. I think so."
Asked whether he had a response, Hamilton said: "Not particularly," before joking: "It definitely wasn't deliberate."
That was a reference to the Monaco Grand Prix two races ago, when Rosberg, having set provisional pole on his first qualifying run, ran wide on his final lap and prevented Hamilton from having a chance of beating him. Hamilton was furious afterwards, feeling it had been deliberate.
Hamilton said he would be trying to win the race, despite his lowly starting position.
"Even if I'm starting last, I'm always going for the win," he said. "Obviously it gets harder and harder the further back you are.
"I have to sit down and speak to my strategist. It's so difficult to know how things can pan out.
"Do you sit back a little and wait for people's tyres to go off and then push? Do you just go all out at the beginning and potentially risk your tyres going off a bit sooner.
"I don't know what the plan of attack is but all I know is I'm going for the win.
"We'll see how it works. It's damage limitation, trying to get as many points as possible and some more points on the scoreboard."