German Nico Hulkenberg who led Porsche to the Le Mans crown recenty, is ranked fifth for Force India

Defending world champion and series leader Lewis Hamilton secured the 45th pole position of his career Saturday when he outpaced Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in a dramatic rain-affected qualifying for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

The 30-year-old Briton survived a last-gasp spin at the first corner of his final fast run to stay on top thanks to 29-year-old German Rosberg following suit by running off track at the final corner in his final push for pole.

For Rosberg, faced with a long trudge back to the pits, it was an ignominious end to a frustrating top-ten shootout after he had appeared to be fastest for most of the session.

Hamilton took his pole with a best lap of 1min 8.455sec, outpacing Rosberg by 0.2 seconds. Four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel was third fastest for Ferrari.

For Mercedes, it was a 19th successive pole position in a run of dominance that left their rivals, Vettel apart, in some disarray. Hamilton was the first Briton to take pole in Austria since James Hunt in his title winning season of 1976.

Brazilian Felipe Massa was fourth for Williams ahead of German Nico Hulkenberg, fifth for Force India, and Finn Valtteri Bottas in the second Williams. – Agence France-Presse

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