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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Felipe Massa heads shock all-Williams front row in Austria

Ian Parkes

Published 21/06/2014 | 14:24

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Williams Formula One driver Felipe Massa of Brazil pilots his car during the first free practice session of the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg June 20, 2014. REUTERS/David W Cerny (AUSTRIA - Tags: SPORT MOTORSPORT F1)
Williams Formula One driver Felipe Massa of Brazil pilots his car during the first free practice session of the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg

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.

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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 from 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 now 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 naturally thrilled Massa, whose 15 previous poles were all with Ferrari, said: "I'm so happy with what's happened today with us, our team.

"This is such a great moment. 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,.

"It's something I had the chance of throughout my career, but this has been a long time coming, so I hope it is the start of great possibilities to be here again.

"Williams have had a great career in the past and, although there is more work to do, hopefully we're on the right lines for that again."

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