Hamilton on pole in Austria, Rosberg sixth

Sat Jul 2, 2016 4:34pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton made the most of tricky conditions to take pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday, with Mercedes team mate and overall leader Nico Rosberg sixth after a grid penalty.

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg joined the Briton on the front row, only his second career top-two start, after stewards cleared the German of a possible flag infringement.

In a qualifying session marked by rain and dramatic suspension failures, with the finger of blame pointed at new kerbs, Hamilton made no mistake for his 54th career pole and second in a row in Austria.

"It was a really fun session," he told reporters. "Here it dries up so quickly, it’s like driving through fog at some stages. I think it just added to the excitement.

"And being a new surface as well, it was very, very slippery, but it was drying up corner by corner. At the end it was just about getting that last lap."

Britain's Jenson Button will start a remarkable third for misfiring McLaren, with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen fourth.

Although Button qualified fifth, the 2009 champion moved up thanks to five-place penalties for Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel ahead of him.

Rosberg, who has won in Austria for the past two years and leads Hamilton by 24 points ahead of Sunday's race, crashed in final practice and needed a hurried gearbox change, triggering the penalty.   Continued...

Formula One - Grand Prix of Austria - Spielberg, Austria - 2/7/16 -  Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives during the qualifying session. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler