FELIPE Massa will spearhead a shock all-Williams front row for the Austrian Grand Prix as the Red Bull Ring threw up a major qualifying surprise.
Massa will start on pole position for the first time since his home race in Brazil in 2008 as the 33-year-old took full advantage of a double dose of mistakes by Lewis Hamilton.
The Briton twice appeared on course to post the fastest lap, only to make errors on both of his hot laps in the final part of qualifying and will now start ninth as he failed to set a time.
World championship leader Nico Rosberg, 22 points clear of Hamilton in the drivers’ standings, will start third behind the second Williams of Valtteri Bottas.
Following issues during practice, with virtually every driver running wide at turn eight, race director Charlie Whiting warned there would be a zero tolerance policy during qualifying.
Whiting was true to his word as every driver who ran with all four wheels over the white line at turn eight immediately had his lap time disallowed, and there were many in Q1.
Come Q3, and on his first flying lap that would have obliterated the time of Bottas on provisional pole at that time, Hamilton made a mistake on the approach to the notorious corner and was forced to take to the run-off area, immediately losing his time.
Hamilton insisted after making small errors in qualifying in Canada he would be more focused on this occasion, but that was far from the case.
Come his second run in Q3, and again setting a blistering time in the first sector, the 29-year-old overcooked it into turn two and spun.
That, in turn, had a knock-on effect for Rosberg following behind as he had to lift off, leaving him with no chance to attack Massa or Bottas.
The young Finn eventually lost out to Massa by 0.087secs, but second on the grid still represents the best grid slot of his career.
A thrilled Massa, whose 15 previous poles were all with Ferrari, said: “I’m so happy with what’s happened today with us, our team.
“It’s been a long time since my last pole in Brazil 2008, so such an incredible moment.
“For sure we need to concentrate on the race, but the best place is here, in first place.”
Behind the top three will be Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso followed by the lead Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, winner last time out in Canada. McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen starts sixth ahead of another good display by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, who claimed his best grid slot in his debut campaign of seventh.
Kimi Raikkonen starts eighth ahead of Hamilton, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg tenth as he also failed to set a time after exceeding track limits on his hot lap in Q3.
Sergio Perez missed out on a place in the top 10 by 0.091secs to Raikkonen, a fraction of a second that proved very costly for the Mexican.
With a five-place grid penalty to serve following his accident with Massa on the last lap in Canada, Perez will now drop to 16th.
It means Jenson Button, who suffered brake issues in final practice and was restricted to just four laps, moves up to 11th.
On a poor day for Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel will start 12th, followed by Lotus duo Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean in 13th and 15th either side of Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne.
Marussia wrote on Twitter before the start of qualifying that Sauber were in their sights as they targeted a leap up the grid. But come the conclusion to Q1, although both Saubers and Marussias exited proceedings, the former team just held sway.
Sauber duo Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez will start 17th and 18th, with Jules Bianchi 19th ahead of Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi.
In his Marussia, Max Chilton qualified 21st, but due to a three-place grid penalty for causing a collision with Bianchi in Canada, he drops to the back behind Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson.