Felipe Massa stunned Mercedes to take his first pole in six years, as Williams stormed to a front row lockout at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Massa, without a pole since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, snatched the top spot from his own team-mate Valtteri Bottas by a mere tenth of a second in the dying moments of the session, securing a shock front row lock-out for the Williams team, its first since 2003.
Nico Rosberg was forced to settle for third in the lead Mercedes after he failed to improve on his final lap, but will take some comfort in the fact that his team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton will start just ninth, after the 2008 champion spun at turn two on his final run, having seen his earlier time deleted for exceeding the track limits at turn eight.
Fernando Alonso was fourth for Ferrari, some half a second adrift of Massa’s session topping time, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen. for Red Bull and McLaren respectively.
Daniil Kvyat impressed on his way to seventh for Toro Rosso, while Kimi Raikkonen was eighth.
The aforementioned Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg, who also saw his time deleted, rounded out the top 10.
Sergio Perez was 11th fastest overall, but the Mexican will be demoted five places on the grid owing to a penalty for his last lap clash with Felipe Massa in Canada
Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel were the two big scalps to miss out on Q3, the McLaren man struggling after missing the majority of final practice, while the four-time champion simply lacked the pace.
Pastor Maldonado was 14th for Lotus, after the Venezuelan progressed into the second part of qualifying for just the second time this year.
Jean-Eric Vergne, in the top 10 in both Friday practice session, ended the session 15th for Toro Rosso, ahead of his fellow compatriot Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus.
Adrian Sutil was 16th for Sauber, a victim of exceeding the track limits at turn eight, one spot ahead of his team-mate Esteban Gutierrez, as the Swiss team’s season long struggles continued on Saturday afternoon.
The two Marussias of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton were 19th and 21st fastest respectively, the Frenchman less than a tenth shy of Gutierrez’s Sauber despite having his best time deleted, with Kamui Kobayashi sandwiched in 20th in the first of the two Caterham cars.
His team-mate Marcus Ericsson propped up the time sheets in 22nd and last, the Swede an entire second down on the Japanese racer.
Qualifying – Provisional Classification
1. Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes – 1:08.759
2. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Mercedes – 1:08.846 +0.087
3. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:08.944 +0.185
4. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:09.285 +0.526
5. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull-Renault – 1:09.466 +0.707
6. Kevin Magnussen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:09.515 +0.756
7. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:09.619 +0.860
8. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:10.795 +2.036
9. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – No time set
10. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – No time set
11. Sergio Perez – Force India-Mercedes – 1:09.754 +0.780
12. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:09.780 +0.806
13. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:09.801 +0.827
14. Pastor Maldonado – Lotus-Renault – 1:09.939 +0.965
15. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:10.073 +1.099
16. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:10.642 +1.668
17. Adrian Sutil – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:10.825 +1.311
18. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:11.349 +1.835
19. Jules Bianchi – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:11.412 +1.898
20. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham-Renault – 1:11.673 +2.159
21. Max Chilton – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:11.775 +2.261
22. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham-Renault – 1:12.673 +3.159
Image courtesy of Williams F1 Team