Q1 began in somewhat uncertain fashion with the first laps being conducted on the intermediate tyre on a track that was drying out after the rain of FP3. In these conditions it was the final minutes of session when cars got super-soft Pirelli tyres and tried to claim Q2 pass. Kimi Räikkönen could not!!!
Q2 saw Le Mans winner Hulkenberg set the early pace with a time of 1:10.207 and the order soon formed up around the German with Verstappen second ahead of Rosberg and Sainz. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was finding the going tough though and complained of feeling “something strange on braking”. The issues appeared to affect the Australian’s attempts top progress and he eventually could only manage a best time of 1:10.482, which put him in P14 just over two tenths clear of Fernando Alonso. Both Ricciardo and Alonso are facing grid penalties due to power unit changes.
Ricciardo’s Red Bull team-mate, Kvyat, made it through to the final segment, however, his lap of 1:10.187 being good enough, by almost two tenths of a second, to push Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado out of the session. The Venezuelan slotted into P11 ahead of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and the unfortunate Sainz, who couldn’t claw his way back into the top 10 despite being something of a pacesetter in the session to that point. Rosberg again headed the order with a time of 1:08.634, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton taking P2, though almost half a second adrift of the German. Vettel was third 0.758 behind Rosberg, with Bottas fourth for Williams and two tenths further back.
The first runs in Q3 saw Hamilton seize the initiative. His opening laps saw him take provisional pole with a best time of 1:08.455, exactly two tenths quicker than Rosberg. Vettel continued to hold third, this time a tenth ahead of the second Williams of Massa, while Bottas was fifth.
In the end neither Mercedes driver completed their final runs. Hamilton blew his chance of an improvement early in his final run as the back end of his Mercedes snapped out under braking into Turn Two. That left the field clear for Rosberg and the German began his run well, setting a personal best in the first sector and then recording a purple, session-best time in sector two. His chance of stealing pole ended, however, when he made a mistake into the final corner and he arrowed off track and into the gravel trap. Behind them Vettel stayed third ahead of Massa.
Bottas, however, was dropped to fifth by a good lap from Hulkenberg. Verstappen was an excellent seventh for Toro Rosso. Kvyat, who will take a 10-place grid drop for use of a fifth engine, was eighth ahead of Nasr and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean who did not set a time during Q3.
2015 AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX
P. DRIVER TEAM TIME GAP 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG 1:08.455 2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG 1:08.655 + 0.200 3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrarri 1:08.810 + 0.355 4. Felipe Massa Williams 1:09.192 + 0.737 5. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:09.278 + 0.823 6. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:09.319 + 0.864 7. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:09.612 + 1.157 8. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:09.694 + 1.239 9. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:09.715 + 1.258 10. Romain Grosjean Lotus no time Q2 Fastest time: Nico Rosberg 1:08.634 11. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:09.754 + 1.553 12. Marcus Ericcson Sauber 1:09.780 + 1.740 13. Carlos Sainz JR. Toro Rosso 1:09.801 + 1.792 14. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:09.939 + 1.831 15. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:10.073 + 2.102 Q1 Fastest time: Nico Rosberg 1:10.976 16. Sergio Perez Force India 1:12.522 + 1.546 17. Jenson Button McLaren 1:12.632 + 1.656 18. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:12.867 + 1.891 19. Roberto Merhi Manor 1:14.071 + 3.095 20. Will Stevens Manor 1:15.368 + 4.392 107% time: 1:15.944