The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg put on the qualifying duel of the season from the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria today. Hamilton had the best time of Q3 going into the final runs of the session when he had a dramatic spin after locking up at the beginning of his hot lap. Rosberg who was very suddenly in the cat bird seat and through two sectors ahead of his team mate, cracked under the pressure and ran wide in the third sector, throwing away an assured pole position.
Behind them, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took his usual best of the rest position in third. 2014 Austrian Grand Prix polesitter Felipe Massa put his Williams in a fine fourth.
Behind them, Nico Hulkenberg was a shock fifth place for Force India, the German’s recent Le Mans win, clearly bolstered his confidence as much as the recently updated Force India chassis bolstered his pace.
Valtteri Bottas took sixth in the second Williams, ahead of a strong Max Verstappen in the Toro Rosso and Felipe Nasr in the Sauber.
Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado rounded out an all Lotus row 5 to close out the top ten.
Daniel Ricciardo and Danil Kvyat both suffered grid penalties for parts changes, as did Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. F1 is entering a brave new world where Red Bulls and McLaren’s will now regularly share the back of the grid with the Manor cars. How far forward any of them may come in the race, could well be the story of the day.
* indicates grid penalty
Image: Mercedes AMG F1