Lewis Hamilton had a scare when his first lap in the top-10 shootout was deleted for exceeding track limits.
The FIA told drivers in the pre-race briefing that track limits would be enforced with zero tolerance at Turns 9, 15 and 18 – Copse, Stowe and Club.
Hamilton’s first laptime in Q3 was erased after he exceeded the track limits at Copse Corner on his first flying lap, a TV replay clearly showing he picked up understeer and missed the apex.
On his second attempt, Hamilton lapped in 1m29.287s to take his sixth pole of the season, and the 55th of his career.
Teammate Nico Rosberg was three tenths slower and will start second, ahead of the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
Kimi Raikkonen will start fifth, with sixth-fastest Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel relegated to 11th when his five-place grid penalty is enforced for a gearbox change since it failed during FP3.
Story of Q3
Hamilton’s opening gambit was a 1m29.339s, not as quick as he went in Q2. But still his time was 0.267s faster than Rosberg’s 1m29.606s.
But Hamilton’s lap was delete for running wide and exceeding track limits at Copse.
Verstappen and Ricciardo were second and third at that point – over a second slower than Hamilton’s deleted time.
Hamilton went again early, to give him the chance for two laps, setting an even faster 1m29.287s.
Rosberg’s second attempt was a 1m29.715s, slower than his first run.
Niether Red Bull was able to improve at their second attempt, so Verstappen outqualifies Ricciardo for the first time.
Kimi Raikkonen qualified fifth, 1.5s off the Mercedes pace and two-tenths off a Red Bull, for Ferrari. Teammate Sebastian Vettel had a huge moment at Stowe on his first run, and only managed sixth.
Valtteri Bottas rises to sixth on the grid for Williams. He was half a second clear of Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso, who gained another place when Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India had its fastest time deleted.
So Sainz will start seventh, ahead of Hulkenberg.
Fernando Alonso, using Honda’s latest engine upgrade in his McLaren, had a time deleted for exceeding track limits and Stowe and will start ninth, as Force India’s Sergio Perez is promoted to 10th despite failing to make Q3.
Perez and Massa fall in Q2
The big scalps who failed to progress to the top-10 shootout were Perez and Felipe Massa. Perez was just over a tenth slower than Force India teammate Hulkenberg and will start 11th after Sainz made a last-gasp improvement.
Massa was half a second off Williams teammate Bottas, and starts 12th.
Romain Grosjean qualified 13th for Haas, ahead of teammate Esteban Gutierrez.
Daniil Kvyat was 15th for Toro Rosso, ahead of Renault’s Kevin Magnussen. Kvyat claimed Magnussen blocked him in the session.
Hamilton unleased a new circuit lap record of 1m29.243s, 0.7s faster than Rosberg.
Raikkonen suffered a big scare in this session when he spun at Club after running wide on to the kerbs on his out lap on his first lap, then locked up and went off at Village on his second run.
He regrouped and went sixth on his last effort.
Austria star Button eliminated in Q1
The big news in the first element of qualifying was Kvyat knocking McLaren’s Jenson Button out on the very last lap of the session, jumping to 15th and shoving Button down into the drop zone in 17th.
Button, who had a rear wing problem that cost him a second run, subsequently ran back to his car having alighted to go to the FIA weighing scales. But the pantomime was all in vain, as Magnussen was exonerated of having exceeded track limits on his quickest lap.
Fellow Brit Jolyon Palmer will start alongside him in 18th for Renault, ahead of the Manors of Rio Haryanto and Pascal Wehrlein.
Palmer’s first flying lap was deleted for running wide at Copse, and teammate Magnussen likewise at Abbey. But Magnussen escaped with his final flying lap which put him safely into Q2.
Sauber’s Felipe Nasr suffered a huge slide at Stowe and will start 21st. His teammate Marcus Ericsson did not take part in qualifying following his huge crash at the end of FP3.
Rosberg topped the session with a 1m30.724s, 0.015s quicker than Hamilton.