Felipe Massa ended his six-year pole position drought by claiming the top slot at the Red Bull Ring circuit.
The 2008 runner-up produced a well-timed Q3 lap to knock his Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas off top spot in the final moments of qualifying, giving him pole by just under a tenth of a second.
This was the Brazilian’s first pole since that championship deciding Brazilian Grand Prix back in 2008 and the first for Williams since Nico Hulkenberg at the same circuit four years ago.
World championship leader Nico Rosberg was third quickest for Mercedes after failing to improve on his final attempt, but while he missed out on top spot he will be happy to see his title rival Lewis Hamilton down in ninth position.
Hamilton’s first run in Q3, which would have been good enough for fifth, was disallowed for exceeding track limits at the exit of Turn 8 after the rear stepped out.
His second attempt was ruined by a spin at Turn 2, meaning that he did not set a Q3 time, putting him ahead of only the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was just over half-a-second off the pace in fourth position.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth quickest ahead of McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, with Daniil Kvyat a superb seventh for Toro Rosso.
Kimi Raikkonen was the slowest of those actually to register a lap time in Q2, ending up in eighth place.
Sergio Perez was P11 after being bumped out of a Q3 position late on, missing out by just under a tenth of a second.
But he will start the Austrian Grand Prix in P16 thanks to the five-place grid penalty he received for causing a collision with Massa in the Canadian Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
The Mexican’s former team-mate Jenson Button, whose practice session was ruined by a rear brake problem, and Sebastian Vettel, whose lack of pace in the final sector cost him, were just behind Perez.
This was a disappointing performance by the defending world champion. Yet again, Sebastian Vettel was out-qualified by his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. The defending champion will start in unlucky P13.
Pastor Maldonado out-qualified Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean for the first time this year, the pair sandwiching Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso.
Adrian Sutil was the fastest of those to be knocked out in Q1, ending up just four-thousandths slower than Maldonado.
He was comfortably ahead of Sauber team-mate Esteban Gutierrez, with Jules Bianchi P19.
Kamui Kobayashi did a good job to split the Marussias, a tenth quicker than Max Chilton, with Marcus Ericsson unable to improve on his second run and ending up last.
Numerous drivers had lap times automatically disallowed during the session for running wide beyond track limits at the exit of Turn 8 as the race stewards act tough on the drivers exploiting the circuit.
So a fantastic achievement by Williams. Their first front row lock-out since the 2003 German Grand Prix. Sunday’s race is going to be fascinating.
Qualifying positions, Red Bull Ring:
1. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m08.759s
2. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m08.846s
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m08.944s
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m09.285s
5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m09.466s
6. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m09.515s
7. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m09.619s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m10.795s
9. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes No time
10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes No time
11. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m09.780s
12. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m09.801s
13. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1m09.939s
14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m10.073s
15. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m10.642s
16. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m09.754s*
17. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m10.825s
18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m11.349s
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m11.412s
20. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m11.673s
21. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m11.775s
22. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m12.673s
107 per cent time: 1m14.379s
*Five-place grid penalty for causing a collision with Felipe Massa at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve