Lewis Hamilton takes frantic pole position in Austria


Lewis Hamilton took a sensational pole position in a dramatic, rain-hit qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.

The world champion beat team-mate Nico Rosberg by 0.543secs in a breathless final few minutes on a drying track.

Rosberg will start sixth after a grid penalty for a gearbox change following a crash in practice.

That moves Force India's Nico Hulkenberg up to second on the grid. McLaren's Jenson Button qualified fifth but will start third.

Reaction: Drivers split over kerbs after crashes

Button benefitted from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel also being penalised five places on the grid for an unauthorised gearbox change.

Lewis Hamilton
Sunday's race is live on the BBC Sport website and Radio 5 live

Great race in prospect

The mixed-up grid promises an exciting race, with Rosberg and Vettel coming through the field, Button trying to hold on to his position and the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers starting the race on the super-soft tyre rather than the ultra-soft tyre of everyone else in the top 10. As long as it doesn't rain...

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was sixth fastest ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, and they will be promoted to fourth and fifth on the grid.

The rest of the top 10 was occupied by Williams' Valtteri Bottas, Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Williams' Felipe Massa.

"It was a really fun session, said Hamilton. "Those sessions that start dry and then go wet, and here it dries up so quickly."

Let it rain: Button once again drove brilliantly in the wet conditions

On the Button

Button, who excelled as always in the ever-changing conditions in a final session that started wet but dried enough for slicks halfway through, predicted that it would be a "tough day" because the teams lacked knowledge about the tyres.

His team-mate Fernando Alonso will be quietly fuming, after being sent out by mistake on used tyres for the one lap he got in second qualifying, on which he was inevitably 0.6secs slower than Button.

Attempts to improve on new tyres were thwarted by yellow caution flags and then rain, and the Spaniard will start 14th.

"Really happy," said Button. "Those mixed conditions are tough. When you have to find your feet every corner you get to, it is a lot of fun."

Suspension failures worrying

Daniil Kvyat
Kvyat suffered a heavy crash when the suspension appeared to fail on his Toro Rosso

The rain, which hit in the closing minutes of the second part of qualifying, was only one reason for the high-octane action.

Another was a further two suspension failures, for Force India's Sergio Perez and Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat, following Rosberg's crash in final practice for the same reason.

Perez managed to get back to the pits but Kvyat, whose suspension failed on the exit of Turn Eight, had a heavy crash from which he emerged unhurt.

The failures appear to have been caused by excessive loads caused by a new kerb design at the Red Bull Ring.

Kvyat has called for the kerbs to be changed.

emerson fittipaldi
Hamilton now has two Austrian GP poles, the same as '70s Brazilian champ, Emerson Fittipaldi. Source: Forix

The Russian said: "Once you're on those kerbs you're not in control if the suspension breaks. At least on the AstroTurf, you had control.

"At the last corner, everyone is going off [with] four wheels - they wanted to make it better but actually they made it worse."

Hamilton added on the kerbs issue: "For me, looking at it, obviously those yellow kerbs are quite dangerous, we have now seen a couple of incidents.

"I don't know how many more it will take before someone ends up in the wall and gets hurt.

"The idea is good because we don't want to be off the circuit but perhaps another solution is needed."

Austrian Grand Prix qualifying results

Austrian Grand Prix coverage details

Red Bull statue
The hills were alive: the spectacular setting in the Styrian mountains witnessed an equally spectacular qualifying
Mercedes F1 driver Nico Rosberg
Rosberg crashed in final practice after his suspension failed as he ran over the kerb at Turn Two...
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen pose with some Formula Unas girls in their lederhosen themed race suits
...It may have been because he witnessed Red Bull's lederhosen design race suits
Forests and meadows flank the stunning circuit near Spielberg...
George Lucas
Hollywood director Steven Spielberg was not in attendance, but Star Wars director George Lucas was

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