How H???lkenberg snatched pole position

Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying analysisPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nico H???lkenberg, Williams, Interlagos, 2010

Timing was crucial in qualifying and Nico H???lkenberg exploited it to perfection.

Qualifying times in full

As the track dried with every passing lap in Q3, not only was the circuit offering more grip, but it was also becoming easier for drivers to keep their tyre temperatures up.

H???lkenberg began his final lap with just a few seconds left on the clock. But the remarkable thing is his penultimate lap of 1’15.462 was also good enough for pole position.

The perfectly-timed last lap goes some way to explaining his colossal 1.1 second advantage (in a car which had been off the pace by the same margin in dry practice).

It’s likely that the championship contenders couldn’t afford to risk cutting it as fine as H???lkenberg did. Had they got it wrong they might have ended up in the second half of the top ten.

But none of this detracts from what was an absolutely top-drawer performance from H???lkenberg. After all, his team mate was a huge 1.8 seconds slower.

Was it all down to a wet weather set-up? It seems very unlikely – if that were the case he would surely have been much quicker in Q1 and Q2, which were far wetter than Q3.

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’20.050 1’19.144 (-0.906) 1’14.470 (-4.674)
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’19.160 1’18.691 (-0.469) 1’15.519 (-3.172)
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’19.025 1’18.516 (-0.509) 1’15.637 (-2.879)
4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’19.931 1’18.921 (-1.010) 1’15.747 (-3.174)
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’18.987 1’19.010 (+0.023) 1’15.989 (-3.021)
6 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’19.799 1’18.925 (-0.874) 1’16.203 (-2.722)
7 Robert Kubica Renault 1’19.249 1’18.877 (-0.372) 1’16.552 (-2.325)
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’19.879 1’18.923 (-0.956) 1’16.925 (-1.998)
9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’19.778 1’19.200 (-0.578) 1’17.101 (-2.099)
10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’20.189 1’19.153 (-1.036) 1’17.656 (-1.497)
11 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’19.905 1’19.288 (-0.617)
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’19.741 1’19.385 (-0.356)
13 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’20.153 1’19.486 (-0.667)
14 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’20.158 1’19.581 (-0.577)
15 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’20.096 1’19.847 (-0.249)
16 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’20.174 1’19.899 (-0.275)
17 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’20.592 1’20.357 (-0.235)
18 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’20.830
19 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’22.130
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’22.250
21 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’22.378
22 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’22.810
23 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1’23.083
24 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’23.796

Driver comparisons

The balance of power at Mercedes tipped in Michael Schumacher’s favour for a change – although an unhappy Nico Rosberg said he was blocked by Sebastien buemi in Q2.

Felipe Massa should thank his lucky stars Rosberg was held up or he might not have made it into Q3. Even so the huge gap between the Ferrari drivers makes grim reading for Massa at his home race.

Christian Klien out-qualified Bruno Senna on his return to HRT. But Senna said he did not use a new set of intermediate tyres later in Q1, which seems strange. Tomorrow’s race is expected to be dry, so there’s no need for the team to save a set of intermediates.

Team Driver Lap time Gap Lap time Driver Round
McLaren Jenson Button 1’19.288 +0.367 1’18.921 Lewis Hamilton Q2
Mercedes Michael Schumacher 1’18.923 -0.563 1’19.486 Nico Rosberg Q2
Red Bull Sebastian Vettel 1’15.519 -0.118 1’15.637 Mark Webber Q3
Ferrari Felipe Massa 1’17.101 +1.112 1’15.989 Fernando Alonso Q3
Williams Rubens Barrichello 1’16.203 +1.733 1’14.470 Nico H???lkenberg Q3
Renault Robert Kubica 1’16.552 -1.104 1’17.656 Vitaly Petrov Q3
Force India Adrian Sutil 1’20.830 +0.238 1’20.592 Vitantonio Liuzzi Q1
Toro Rosso Sebastien Buemi 1’19.847 +0.266 1’19.581 Jaime Alguersuari Q2
Lotus Jarno Trulli 1’22.250 -0.128 1’22.378 Heikki Kovalainen Q1
HRT Christian Klien 1’23.083 -0.713 1’23.796 Bruno Senna Q1
Sauber Nick Heidfeld 1’19.899 +0.514 1’19.385 Kamui Kobayashi Q2
Virgin Timo Glock 1’22.130 -0.680 1’22.810 Lucas di Grassi Q1

Ultimate laps

An ultimate lap is a driver’s best time in each of the three sectors that make up a lap combined.

Another key aspect of H???lkenberg’s performance was that all his three sector times were either his best or very close to it.

His fastest time was within a hundredth or so of the best he was capable of – the championship contenders behind him were all capable of quicker times.

1’14.4541’14.7631’14.8661’15.1421’15.6291’15.9271’16.0471’16.3481’16.6161’17.0741’18.9361’19.2461’19.2461’19.4941’19.5451’19.5571’19.9391’20.6851’21.9581’22.1341’22.2811’22.7811’23.0071’23.527
Driver Car Ultimate lap Gap Deficit to best Actual position
1 10 Nico H???lkenberg 0.016 1
2 5 Sebastian Vettel 0.309 0.756 2
3 6 Mark Webber 0.412 0.771 3
4 2 Lewis Hamilton 0.688 0.605 4
5 8 Fernando Alonso 1.175 0.360 5
6 9 Rubens Barrichello 1.473 0.276 6
7 11 Robert Kubica 1.593 0.505 7
8 3 Michael Schumacher 1.894 0.577 8
9 7 Felipe Massa 2.162 0.485 9
10 12 Vitaly Petrov 2.620 0.582 10
11 4 Nico Rosberg 4.482 0.550 13
12 1 Jenson Button 4.792 0.042 11
13 23 Kamui Kobayashi 4.792 0.139 12
14 22 Nick Heidfeld 5.040 0.405 16
15 16 Sebastien Buemi 5.091 0.302 15
16 17 Jaime Alguersuari 5.103 0.024 14
17 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi 5.485 0.418 17
18 14 Adrian Sutil 6.231 0.145 18
19 24 Timo Glock 7.504 0.172 19
20 18 Jarno Trulli 7.680 0.116 20
21 19 Heikki Kovalainen 7.827 0.097 21
22 25 Lucas di Grassi 8.327 0.029 22
23 20 Christian Klien 8.553 0.076 23
24 21 Bruno Senna 9.073 0.269 24

2010 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Image ?? Williams/LAT