Formula 1

Felipe Massa leads shock Williams 1-2 in Austrian GP qualiifying

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Felipe Massa claimed a shock pole position with Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas in second as Mercedes faltered in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Brazilian’s 1:08.759 saw him claim the his first pole since 2008 as Williams locked out the front row for the first time in 11 years.

Despite having the pace on the soft tyres, Mercedes struggled with the red marked super-softs with Lewis Hamilton making errors on both his Q3 runs including a strange spin on his last lap losing the rear under braking into turn two, he will start ninth.

As for championship rival Nico Rosberg he too couldn’t put a solid lap in with his first timed run only good enough for third.

Also continuing to struggle were home favourites Red Bull. With the drivers struggling to get grip from the tyres Sebastian Vettel was the biggest absentee from the top 10 as he could only manage 13th, though will start 12th.

That left it to Daniel Ricciardo to once again lead Red Bull’s charge and, following the drama in the final segment, his fifth place start was probably better than he could have hoped.

Ferrari enjoyed a better qualifying as Fernando Alonso claimed fourth, but again his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was unable to match the Spaniard being the slowest man to set a Q3 time in eighth.

Two drivers with the most recent experience of this track shined in qualifying. Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen both dominated their team-mates with the Russian taking seventh just behind the Dane in the McLaren.

Lewis Hamilton will start ninth after his first lap time was deleted after going wide at turn eight just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg who fell foul of the same rule.

And it was an area that dominated much of the session after a directive from Race Director Charlie Whiting said any driver with all four wheels off the track exiting turn eight would have their time disallowed.

Just outside the top 10 Sergio Perez was 11th quickest but the Mexican will take the five place grid drop he was given for the crash with Massa in Canada, that promotes Jenson Button into that position.

Vettel will start just behind with Pastor Maldonado beating team-mate Romain Grosjean in qualifying for the first time this season, the Frenchman another man to have his time deleted from exceeding track limits.

For the first time this season the three slowest teams occupied the bottom six places as the two Sauber’s joined Marussia and Caterham.

Adrian Sutil was ahead of Esteban Gutierrez who was less than a tenth quicker than Jules Bianchi in the first of the Marussia’s.

Kamui Kobayashi beat Max Chilton leaving the Briton on the back row with Marcus Ericsson for the start of tomorrow’s race.

And it's a race that in theory should be Nico Rosberg’s to lose, despite their amazing pace in qualifying Williams have been suffering with poor tyre wear throughout the weekend, plus the pace of the Mercedes on the soft tyre still far exceeds the rest of the grid.

Rosberg will have six places between himself and Lewis Hamilton who faces an uphill task that rivals some of the inclines around the Red Bull Ring track, the pace of the Ferrari during the race will be another key area, otherwise it could be Daniel Ricciardo who could make up for what has been a dismal weekend for the home team so far.

With higher tyre degradation expected it will also be interesting to see if Force India, particularly through Nico Hulkenberg, can do as they did in Montreal and move up the order in the race.

Plenty of variables and so many interesting plots and subplots heading into tomorrow’s Austrian Grand Prix and based on the weekend we have had so far, this race really could be anybody’s!

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Formula 1

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