Hamilton defies rain to claim pole in Austria


Lewis Hamilton claimed his 54th career pole on a rain-interrupted day of qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.

The British driver took full advantage of Mercedes team-mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg being handed a five-place grid penalty imposed for replacing his gearbox following a crash in practice earlier on Saturday.

The German recorded the second quickest time in qualifying, but will start from seventh as he looks to defend his 24-point lead over Hamilton in the championship standings.

"[It was] a really unbelievable job by my team; even Lewis's mechanics came to my car," Rosberg told the BBC.

"It was really tight and awesome. Lewis did a good job there in the end. Second not first, but it's OK. 

"The five places will be very costly, but I'll make the best of it anyways."

 Sebastian Vettel was another to be hit with a five-place grid penalty and the Ferrari driver will have to try and maintain his championship challenge from ninth place.

A sharp rain shower made for a challenging final qualification session at the Red Bull Ring, but failed to trouble McLaren's Jenson Button who took advantage of Rosberg and Vettel's demotion to claim a place on the second row, having scraped into Q3 for the first time in 2016.

"I love those conditions, can't we have those every race!" he said.

"That's mega. It was an enjoyable session. We were quick on the wets, and then we weren't too bad on the slicks either.

"It's easy from here isn't it? I've seen it on TV!"

Nico Hulkenberg is likely to start second on the grid, having gone third-fastest, despite a steward's investigation to determine whether he failed to slow behind yellow flags.

Kimi Raikkonen will aim to end his three-year winless streak from fourth place, while Australian Daniel Ricciardo will go in search of his first victory of the season from fifth.