Sport Motorsport Ricciardo qualifies fifth, again eclipses Vettel

Ricciardo qualifies fifth, again eclipses Vettel

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Daniel Ricciardo will start from fifth in the Austrian F1 Grand Prix while Sebastian Vettel struggled again in qualifying despite being on their Red Bull team’s home circuit.

Australian Ricciardo was unable to maintain the momentum from his last start breakthrough victory in the Canadian Grand Prix and four-time world champion Vettel, who was third in Montreal, is a distant 13th on the grid at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

Williams driver Felipe Massa took his 16th career pole position, and first for six years, setting up a duel with the runway championship-leading Mercedes team.

The 33-year-old Brazilian clocked a fastest lap of one minute and 08.759 seconds to finish 0.087 seconds ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

He deprived the Mercedes team’s current leader Nico Rosberg of a third successive pole position, leaving the German to trail by 0.185 seconds with the third fastest time.

Ricciardo admitted qualifying fifth was as good as the team could hope for.

“It was tough out there. It’s been tough all weekend to be honest and it’s felt like we’ve had to squeeze everything out of the car to get into the top five, which we just managed to do today,” Ricciardo said.

“All weekend we’ve been on the back foot and I think respect to the other teams, they managed to get their cars dialled in well for this weekend and we’ve just got to keep pushing.”

Mercedes and Williams had already dominated the three practice sessions at the Red Bull Ring this weekend.

But Rosberg and 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton had to watch Massa and Bottas speed ahead on the 4.3-kilometre track.

Hamilton, a four-time race winner this season, eventually finished in ninth place.

“I definitely didn’t expect Williams to be ahead of me today but they did a good job,” Rosberg conceded.

Still, he remained in fighting spirit ahead of Sunday’s race, which sees the return of the Austrian Grand Prix after an 11-year absence.

“Third place is OK. I have a cool car for the race tomorrow so everything’s possible,” said this year’s Australian and Monaco Grand Prix winner.

Except for Montreal two weeks ago, Mercedes have enjoyed a near-perfect season, winning the first six races, allowing them to build a 119-point lead in the constructors’ standings ahead of Red Bull.

Several drivers, including Hamilton and Alonso, saw times disallowed on Saturday after going too far off a track that included some tricky turns.

The last Austrian Grand Prix winner in 2003 was seven-time champion Michael Schumacher.