The Brit had looked on course to challenge for pole position, but his first timed lap in the final segment of qualifying at the Red Bull Ring was disallowed as he exceeded the track limits at turn eight.
He returned to the track for a second lap but spun under braking for the tricky second corner after locking his rear tyres. He will start tomorrow’s race from ninth on the grid.
“We haven’t had the car back yet, so at the moment we don’t know exactly what happened,” he said when asked about the incident. “But I assume I just pressed the brake too hard.”
The 2008 world champion is still hopeful that he can fight for the Austrian Grand Prix victory, adding: “There is a long way to go so don’t rule me out just yet.”
His team-mate Nico Rosberg also missed out on the top spot on the grid, after he was forced to back off on his final lap due to the yellow flags for Hamilton’s spin.
“For sure, it stopped me from having a shot at it,” the German explained. “I am not sure if it would have worked out or not, I think so.”
He still believes Mercedes has the fastest car, but their advantage may be smaller than before. “We still had an advantage today but it was a lot smaller than usual.
“It is a shorter track and I think Williams have just been quick this weekend, the track suits them and maybe they have been more aggressive with their set-up, more towards qualifying. Maybe, this is all theories. But I still think we were the fastest car out there today.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic