Massa on pole as Williams celebrate Austrian sweep

Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:52am EDT
 
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By Michael Shields

SPIELBERG Austria (Reuters) - Brazilian Felipe Massa celebrated his first Formula One pole position since 2008 as Williams stunned leaders Mercedes on Saturday and swept the front row of the Austrian Grand Prix starting grid.

Finland's Valtteri Bottas qualified in second place for the Mercedes-powered former champions with championship leader Nico Rosberg only third fastest for the Mercedes factory team.

It was the first time this season that Mercedes had failed to take pole and Sunday's race will be Williams's first start from the front of the grid since Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado in Spain in 2012.

"Williams are back to the top, they are back to fight. I am pleased for me and the team as well," declared an emotional Massa whose last pole was with Ferrari at his home grand prix before finishing that season as runner-up.

"After a long time I hope this is just the beginning of great possibilities. I hope to be in this position again," added the Brazilian who suffered near-fatal head injuries in a freak accident in Hungary in 2009.

Britain's Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg's team mate and closest championship rival who is 22 points behind the German after seven races, had a nightmare session.

The 2008 world champion will have to fight back from ninth place after his first flying lap of the revamped Red Bull Ring was disallowed because he exceeded track limits and he then spun on his final attempt.

"It was just two not very good laps. Or one-and-a-quarter-laps - I didn't finish my second one," he told the BBC. "My first lap was looking good and I went wide in the second to last corner - I think that lap would have done it.   Continued...

 
Williams Formula One driver Felipe Massa (L) of Brazil pilots his car during the qualification for the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg June 21, 2014.         REUTERS/David W Cerny