Unsurprising results after topping a rain-affected session that was also marred by Daniil Kvyat’s huge crash in Q1.
With rain at the end of Q2, the top-10 shootout was held in wet but drying conditions, and all switched to slicks for their final Q3 run.
Hamilton lapped the nine-turn Red Bull Ring in 1m07.922s, half a second clear of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
Rosberg drops five places due to his gearbox change following his hefty FP3 crash.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel qualified fourth, but drops five places after a gearbox change, and will start ninth.
The penalties elevated Nico Hulkenberg to second, although he was under investigation for failing to slow under yellows in Q2, and McLaren’s Jenson Button to third.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen qualified fourth, ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Story of the session
On a wet track, following the Q2 shower, the session was always going to come down to a late shootout as conditions improved.
Vettel set the early pace, as the cars were fuelled for longer runs than usual on intermediate tyres. Times tumbled, with Ricciardo fastest with five minutes to go.
Hulkenberg was the first to pit, rejoining on ultrasoft slicks and he was followed suit by Williams, Ferrari and Mercedes.
Rosberg was asked if it was ready for slicks and replied: “Negative, negative, negative.” But he too pitted for slicks.
Hulkenberg – who took P1 on slicks, beaten immediately by those running behind him – the top spot constantly changing as the track improved.
Hamilton took pole on his final lap, a 1m07.922s, with Rosberg 0.543s behind him. Hulkenberg grabbed the third-fastest time, which gives him a front row start, ahead of Vettel, Button, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas (whose Williams went off on his first flying lap on slicks but recovered), Max Verstappen (Red Bull) and Felipe Massa (Williams).
Werhlein stars in Q2
Rain hit the session with six minutes remaining in Q2, highlighted by Button going off at Turn 3 into the gravel.
Eliminated were Haas’s Esteban Gutierrez, along with the star of qualifying until this point – Pascal Wehrlein – who qualified a Manor in 12th.
He beat Romain Grosjean, who went off at Turn 6 after a big crossed-up moment sent him on a trip through the gravel.
Fernando Alonso suffered a disaster when his team put him out on the same tyres he’d used in Q1, and it rained before he could be switched to the new tyres. “We didn’t execute good enough, it was a bit of a surprise to qualify without tyres… We only had two Haases to beat [to get to Q3].”
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz didn’t take part in the session after an engine failure in Q1.
Hamilton set the pace in this session, which is set on the tyres they will start the race on.
Rosberg was 0.175s slower, ahead of Vettel and the Red Bulls.
Perhaps crucially for tomorrow, if it’s dry, the Mercedes duo will start on ultrasoft tyres, while their Ferrari and Red Bull rivals will begin on supersofts.
Kvyat’s huge crash interrupts Q1
The big news from this session was Daniil Kvyat’s wild accident that started at Turn 8 and ended in a mess at Turn 9 with only one wheel left on the car.
He ran wide over the kerbs, and the right-rear suspension failed, apparently from the frequency of the opposite side of the car running over the yellow ‘baguettes’, sending him into a wild trip across the inside of Turn 9 and gently nosing into the Turn 9 wall. “I’m sorry guys, I crashed,” he said.
More woe struck Toro Rosso as Carlos Sainz’s car expired in a cloud of smoke at the restart.
Like Rosberg in FP3, Perez suffered a broken right-rear wishbone breakage halfway through the session: “I have a suspension failure,” he reported.
Rosberg set the pace in this session, his 1m06.516s being 0.245s clear of Verstappen.
Eliminated were the Renaults of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer, as well as Rio Haryanto (Manor), Kvyat and the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr.