Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Ring, 2015

Mercedes pair spin their way to another front row

2015 Austrian Grand Prix qualifying

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Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Ring, 2015No one other than Mercedes has started a race from pole position in the past 12 months – but the manner in which they achieved their latest front row lock-out was most unusual.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both spun off on their final laps in Q3. But with no one able to beat them they will start the race from first and second, Hamilton on pole position for the seventh time this year.

However Kimi Raikkonen will start near the back of the grid after failing to make it beyond the first part of qualifying.


Qualifying began on a damp but drying track and intermediate tyres were the order of the day for the drivers at first. However it quickly became clear the track would be quick enough for slick tyres by the end of the session.

Williams initially took a punt on sending their drivers out on the soft tyres, but soon joined the rest in opting for the more aggressive super-soft compound. With the track improving with every passing lap, a frenzied battle to escape the clutches of the drop zone began.

Rosberg hovered perilously close to the cut-off point to begin with but escaped the bottom five with time to spare. So did Sebastian Vettel – but not the other Ferrari of Raikkonen. He had fallen to 17th as the final laps began but lost time in the middle sector of the lap and headed for the pits.

He was joined in elimination by Jenson Button, who had led the topsy-turvy session at one stage, and who now faces a penalty during the race as he will be unable to take much of his 25-place penalty.

Fernando Alonso, who faces the same penalty, made it through in his McLaren. However Sergio Perez, who was running behind him on the track, fell at the first hurdle.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’12.522
17 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1’12.632
18 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’12.867
19 Roberto Merhi Manor-Ferrari 1’14.071
20 Will Stevens Manor-Ferrari 1’15.368


With the track now largely dry, Q2 was a more straightforward affair, and ended with the two Mercedes drivers on top. However Rosberg looked by far the more comfortable of the two, and his lap of 1’08.634 was a good four-tenths of a second faster than Hamilton could manage.

The sole remaining Ferrari of Vettel was next, and two places behind him was another driver who reached Q3 after leaving his team mate behind in Q1: Nico Hulkenberg.

Unsurprisingly it was Alonso who propped up the table at the end of Q2. Ahead of him Ricciardo lost out in a close three-way contest for 12th place. He also appeared to caused his team amte some aggravation, but it didn’t prevent Daniil Kvyat from reaching the final ten.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Mercedes 1’10.374
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’10.426
13 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Renault 1’10.465
14 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1’10.482
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’10.736


Only one Lotus driver had made it through to Q3 but his involvement didn’t last long. Romain Grosjean reported a problem with his car’s brake-by-wire system, and despite telling his team he felt he could continue he was told to head for the pits.

The super-soft tyres were good for two flying runs at the beginning of the session, and after the first it seemed the status quo between the Mercedes drivers had been preserved – Rosberg was the best part of four-tenths of a second ahead. However on their second efforts Hamilton found the time he had been missing in the twisty middle sector, which moved him two-tenths of a second clear of his team mate.

The scene was set for a climactic battle between the two Mercedes drivers – but it was decided in the most unusual of circumstances. Hamilton’s car got away from him at the very beginning of the lap – he spun off at turn one as he hit the brakes.

That seemed to leave to door open for Rosberg to snatch pole position. But he ran wide in the penultimate corner, then skidded off at the final turn, losing a clear shot at beating his team mate.

Vettel did not quite have the pace to take advantage and had to settle for third place ahead of last year’s pole sitter Felipe Massa. Hulkenberg took fifth ahead of Bottas as the top six featured five Mercedes-powered cars.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’08.455
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’08.655
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’08.810
4 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’09.192
5 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’09.278
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’09.319
7 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Renault 1’09.612
8 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull-Renault 1’09.694
9 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1’09.713
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Mercedes

2015 Austrian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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150 comments on “Mercedes pair spin their way to another front row”

  1. anticlimax :D

    1. The Skeptic
      20th June 2015, 14:31

      What an excellent qualy!

      I think that the problem for Hamilton was that he was running to a system of a flying third lap (out lap, quick lap, flying lap), which is what achieved his fast time on the used super-softs in Q3. On the new tyres, his quick lap had to be a bit quicker than usual, because of the need to beat the clock. Then as he hooked it up for turn 1 on the flying lap – he lost it. With the damp track – no room for error!

      For Rosberg, he was consistently quicker than Lewis in the second sector…. so when Lewis beat him there, he amped it up even further, which caused him to overdrive the third sector.

      For Vettel, he simply came out too late to hit the rhythm properly.

      Bottas’ lap was ruined by Rosberg.

    2. Based on qualifying errors it’s going to be hard picking out a driver of the weekend

  2. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    20th June 2015, 14:09

    Needs many more grid penalties.

  3. Did Kimi have a mechanical issue?

    1. The team said no
      It might be traffic ?

      1. @malik Raikkonen was behind Perez who was behind Alonso on the last lap.

        1. @fastiesty: Thanks for the information. This might make the race more interesting :)

        2. @fastiety @erinha – Thanks

      2. Perez did say he was stuck behind ALO, with Kimi behind him again, so no space to take gap – must have worked against Kimi too. Still, Kimi didn’t look very good today at any moment.

  4. One Ferrari engineer set his timer wrong. This had to happen tomorrow…

  5. Lol, what a great ending. Shame Seb couldn’t quite get among the Mercs.

    As for Ferrari / Kimi / Hulk – case closed really.

    1. The Skeptic
      20th June 2015, 14:32

      Yep. Ferrari need to hire Ricciardo!

      1. Yeah, because he was mighty fast today,…

    2. Both Kimi and Perez wwere stuck in traffic, unless they could switch off collision like in F1 game, there was no chance for him to get through Alonso. Great job by hulk though.

      1. Yes, and people keep saying that we need to add more teams just to cause traffic.

    3. Shame Seb couldn’t quite get among the Mercs.

      But his pace looks good and the Ferrari seems to be steadier in the tricky conditions of the track. I have a feeling that Vettel could be more than among the Mercs tomorrow. I hope so anyway.

      1. OmarR-Pepper - Vettel 40 victories!!! (@)
        20th June 2015, 15:54

        @loup-garou I hope you are totally right!!!

      2. My expectation (as distinct from hope) is that the Ferraris will suffer more from cold graining and the Mercs will drive steadily away. Still, a mistake could come at any time.

        Though the interest will be in the midfield, most likely. Could be plenty of that anyway.

  6. They both screw up and they still get a front row. Where the heck was everybody else, pretty sure Rosberg’s off wrecked a lot of the last laps but come on that was the fields chance to have a laugh at Mercedes expense.

    1. Did Hamilton/Rosberg’s offs produce yellow flags then? I can’t really remember.

      1. Bottas’s lap is the only one im certain of by Rosberg, Hamilton was last man over the line so he didn’t affect anybody.

        1. Hulkenberg was last across the line – if he was going for another lap it would have been ruined immediately by Hamilton’s off.

    2. Well, you could say that it still turned out to be a good result :-)

      1. @bascb That’s a good spin on the situation.

    3. @addimaf1 They didn’t screw their banker laps.

  7. The look on Wolff and Lauda’s face when Lewis went out on 1st turn, is highlighted by the look on their faces when Rosberg went out on the last. It’s a funny situation but one wonders that both PR austrians have a much easier job when Lewis is happy.

  8. Looked like Rosberg’s lap would have been good enough for poll had the last 2 corners gone smoothly.

    Definitely an anti-climax but shows that even compared to last year at Austria the Mercs are further ahead than they were. Not even mistakes from both drivers prevented a 1-2.

    1. Rosberg said he was 2 tenths up on Lewis’ pole time, so it was going to be very close between them. However, I wonder on why they didn’t send out the Mercedes on 2 timed laps like the first run since it must have been down to tyre warmup the mistakes.

    2. Well @sparkyamg, in the press conference he said he was up 0,2s, ie. about the time HAM had on him, which meant he had to go for it – then lost that last corner. So might have been in the hundredths of second who got pole.

    3. but lewis probably would have gone even quicker on his final lap,considering he was also on fresh tyres.but he didnt even complete sector 1,so we’ll never know for sure

      1. Agreed, Lewis went too deep at turn 2 on his pole lap so without at least that mistake he would have been quicker than Rosberg on their last runs.

        1. @earmitage
          He didn’t go to deep.
          The lines were just wet that’s all.

  9. Amateurish stuff from the two Mercedes drivers, very frustrating for anyone who hoped to improve on their final lap. The best drivers are clearly not always the ones in the best car…

    1. Bottas lost his second attempt with the Rosberg yellow..

      1. But he needed it because he made two mistakes himself @fastiesty, hahostolze – maybe these cars weren’t so easy to drive on this track today. I don’t find it anticlimactic or amateurish, I just believe they were pushing to the limit. Which is great to see.

        1. @bosyber True, he said his first attempt wasn’t great and Sky showed he gave up one lap after a minor error.

    2. There you go!

    3. Everybody has good and bad moments.

      Your guy made a lot of mistakes in Bahrein. Then what?

      1. +1. Apparently Hamilton and Rosberg should NOT make mistakes under any circumstances because of the mighty W06. But Vettel is allowed. Even in Canada Vettel had alot of hairy moments but he is an exception.

        1. IIRC, the only “hairy moment” was Hulkenberg spinning himself off when already behind the Ferrari having unsuccessfully defended. Vettel also didn’t even need to make mistakes to be criticised, booed and accused of cheating when he was winning in the “mighty” Red Bulls.

          1. Indeed. I mean it’s not like Alonso showed up Vettel twice in that race in terms of racecraft. Is it just me or are you not able to accept any criticism of Vettel?

          2. @blazz14 – I am able to accept criticism of Vettel, but you (and davej) must have been asleep for about 5 years you to claim Vettel is “allowed” to make mistakes and others not. Plus, is hahostolze even a Vettel fan?

    4. Becken Lima
      20th June 2015, 14:45

      How not to love F1 fans and social media these days?

      People complain that the drivers aren’t being push hard enough: “F1 is easy.”

      People complain when drivers push hard and go over the limit: “what a bunch of amateurs!”

      1. Exactly.

        1. Just absolutely amazes me frankly….

          And just shows how many ‘know it alls’ are willing to comment in the negative on today’s instant media, never of course having attempted anything as difficult as a simple licensed kart race qualy in changing conditions.

          There is nothing more chancy or difficult than getting the best lap in such conditions. But there is nothing easier than sitting with your ps4 and pretending you can do better and that its all about the engine… And that the best are in actual fact crap because they try hard enough to lose it in the dying moments of a changing grip track… Meanwhile adding to the it’s all ‘easy’ comments.

          Honestly annoys me – get out there, get a licence 2 or 4 wheel and go win some races in similar conditions even if it’s basic karts before making stupid ‘go with the current everything is crap because I say so crowd’ and then come back here and comment like that @Haho…..
          Everyone appears to want the impossible at the moment (5 winners of every race?!) but suggests no one is working hard to achieve a single win when it is clear they are right at the limit.

          How about a little praise for the fact they risked everything despite track conditions? Further anyone who has ever raced in the wet or similar conditions will happily tell you engine power has zero to do with it. Drive ability is everything. Some credit for the chassis beyond the pail?

          Or is your preferred driver/team not pole hence everyone else is an amateur?

          1. You tell’em buddy, this is real racing, the possibility of going from Hero to Zero in a nanosecond is what provides the “show”, even when the leader/s are half a lap ahead of the rest. Pity the tyres are only good for 2 laps though.

      2. +1
        I guess you can choose to see two professional drivers, including a 2-times world champion, pushing the car to its limit and beyond to get those extra tenths, or two ‘amateurs’ spoiling qualifying for the real drivers behind. It’s total nonsense and in the end just reduces everything interesting about the sport or any human endeavour to worthless irrelevance – nothing will ever disprove their ‘theory’ – but that’s their tiresome ‘right’.

    5. Bla bla bla.
      They got the front row because they made a good job on their first run. That’s it.
      Bash everything is the name of the game now.
      People raised their hopes for a Vettel pole and it didn’t work, so the first thing is to bash F1 on the internet.

      1. But don’t get sad, it’s really possible that Vettel can chalenge for the win tomorrow.

    6. All drivers made mistakes this weekend.

      I guess the whole grid is just a bunch of amateurs.

  10. Both drivers making mistakes when the track is at its fastest but still managing a 1,2!? That car is going to hand them lots of records.

    1. The yellow flags would have stopped anyone behind improving. Especially as I’m pretty sure the Mercs (with the exception of Vettel) were at the front of the pack.

      1. I think Hamilton was close to the back of the pack (he was behind Bottas anyway), but Rosberg was further ahead and his off spoiled at least Bottas’ lap – not sure if it spoiled other laps as well.

        1. It would have – it’s a shame but we also saw an awful lot of other laps spoiled in earlier parts of qualy which always makes it a lottery that the team need to try to three a needle through…

        2. DRS was disabled on the start/finish straight because of the yellow flag for Hamilton, so it did effect the end of other drivers Vetel, Hulkenberg etc., laps.

          1. Hamilton was the last driver. Vettel was amongst the first.

          2. Hamilton’s yellow flag did not effect the start of the lap but it did effect the end of the lap of drivers like Vettel who were ahead on the road, because they couldn’t use DRS from the last corner to the finish line as DRS had been disabled on the straight leading to the yellow flag incident in turn 1.

  11. It doesn’t feel right that the top 2 drivers are the ones who made the biggest mistakes. If only there were still one shot qualifying…

    1. @leftedf1

      I’m sure you’ll sleep much easier knowing Hamilton’s “mistake” wasn’t driver error.

      1. I still believe Merc should be punished. That’s the reason I want 1 shot quali. No room for error with team or driver

  12. Who is complaining the cars are too easy to handle?

    And look how hard these men have to push?

  13. Some statistics:
    * Despite being less than halfway through the season, Hamilton now has as many pole this year as he had in 2014 (7 poles).

    * Rosberg will need to get pole at 10 of the remaining 11 rounds if he wants to equal his pole count from last year (he had 11 poles in 2014).

    * Hamilton has started from pole at 22 different tracks. This means he has equalled the all-time record – Prost also started from pole at 22 different tracks. If Hamilton gets pole at Mexico he can break this record.

    1. @polo That last one is very interesting. With Baku on it’s way he can even surpass it.

      1. And perhaps Imola if that’s a thing.

    2. BTW, statsf1 shows different thing. Hamilton holds now the record.