Austrian GP qualifying: Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas claims pole

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas has qualified in pole position for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes
Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas qualified on pole position for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix with his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton down in eighth after a five-place grid penalty.

Hamilton was only quick enough to set the third fastest time in Q3 as his main title rival Sebastian Vettel took second for Ferrari to start alongside Bottas on the front row of the grid.

Vettel holds a 14-point lead heading into the race and will be hopeful of extending the gap to second-placed Hamilton, who drops down the field after an unscheduled gearbox change.

The two main title protagonists headed to the Red Bull Ring fresh from the controversial Azerbaijan Grand Prix a fortnight ago.

Vettel finished ahead of Hamilton to add to his title lead despite being hit with a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for deliberately driving his Ferrari into the Briton.

The four-time world champion escaped further punishment after a meeting with the FIA, motorsport's governing body, on Monday and the pair said earlier in the week that they are now fully focused on winning here.

As is protocol the top three drivers were interviewed on the grid after the qualifying session, with the host asking for Vettel and Hamilton to shake hands only for the latter to walk away.

Before that he congratulated his team-mate on just his second pole position in F1 and said he was aiming to share the top steps of Sunday's podium with the Finn.

"Firstly, congratulations to Valtteri - he did a fantastic job. He has been quick all weekend and Sebastian has been very quick," said Hamilton.

"It just wasn't meant to be today. I will do the best job I can, obviously I want to get up there and get a one-two with Valtteri."

With Hamilton displaced, Kimi Raikkonen will start behind Ferrari team-mate Vettel in third and will share the second row with Azerbaijan race-winner Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull's home race.

The sister Red Bull of Max Verstappen is fifth while Romain Grosjean will start sixth for Haas.

It is the equal-best starting position for Haas, although Grosjean struggled at the end of the session and pulled over to bring out yellow flags and ruin any last-gasp improvements.

Hamilton will slot in in eighth ahead of the Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

Nico Hulkenberg came within 0.010 seconds of making it into Q3 but dropped out and will start 11th for Renault.

Fernando Alonso beat McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne to 12th despite the latter running with a newer specification of the beleaguered Honda engine.

Daniil Kvyat was a disappointing 14th for Toro Rosso, with Kevin Magnussen's Haas 15th after the Dane suffered suspension failure in the first part of qualifying and was unable to post another time.

Jolyon Palmer's struggles continued as his Renault was knocked out of Q1 along with the Williams pair of Felipe Massa - pole-sitter here in 2014 - and Lance Stroll as the Sauber's of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein were left on the back row.