Hulkenberg ends Williams’ five-year pole drought

Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying

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

Nico H?‚??lkenberg took a shock pole position for Williams in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The rookie heads the Red Bull duo, Vettel ahead of Webber, with Hamilton fourth and Alonso fifth.

But Jenson Button faces a tough race after failing to reach Q3 and qualifying 11th.


More rain fell between the end of practice and the start of qualifying, meaning Q1 began on a wet track.

With more rain expected, all the drivers hit the track the moment the session began and most stayed out all the way through, some of them logging 15 laps.

But the rain held off until the final moments of the session and the usual six cars from the new teams were at the bottom of the times, headed by Timo Glock.

Once again Force India struggled for pace in Q1 and the battle to survive into Q2 was contested almost exclusively by their drivers.

Adrian Sutil, who already has a five-place grid penalty for the race, was beaten to 17th by team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi.

But he might have made it had he not been held up by Liuzzi when he rejoined the track after spinning off at Mergulho.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

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


The Red Bull drivers led the way as the track continued to dry in Q2. Webber led Vettel, Kubica, Hamilton and Schumacher.

But the drama of the session came as Felipe Massa and Jenson Button battled to avoid elimination.

A last-minute improvement by Massa got him into Q3 by just 0.088s.

Nico Rosberg also failed to make it into Q3, ending up 13th behind Kamui Kobayashi.

Team mate Michael Schumacher made it into the top ten shoot-out, as did both Williamses and both Renault.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’19.288
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’19.385
13 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’19.486
14 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’19.581
15 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’19.847
16 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’19.899
17 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’20.357


All the ten drivers in Q3 started off on intermediate tyres for banker laps before switching to super-softs.

Lewis Hamilton was quickest to begin with on intermediates and re-took the top spot after changing tyres.

But Nico H?‚??lkenberg produced a series of ultra-rapid laps on an ever-improving lap and incredibly moved the target time well beyond the reach of the championship contenders.

Fernando Alonso briefly took pole position back from him but H?‚??lkenberg took it back again.

He still had one lap to spare and he used that to set a 1’14.470, over a second faster than any other driver.

The Red Bull pair line up behind him with Hamilton in fourth ahead of Alonso.

Top ten in Q3

1 Nico H?‚??lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’14.470
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’15.519
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’15.637
4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’15.747
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’15.989
6 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’16.203
7 Robert Kubica Renault 1’16.552
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’16.925
9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’17.101
10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’17.656

2010 Brazilian Grand Prix

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110 comments on Hulkenberg ends Williams’ five-year pole drought

  1. Let’s not get carried away here. He wouldn’t have been anywhere near the front on a dry track and would have probably been behind Barrichello (as he has been for most of the season) on the grid.

    Still, you’ve got to make the most of the correct tyre, water, downforce and grip combination when it presents itself to you.

    • You’re acting like his setup was equivalent to some fluke gamble like going onto slicks in desperation and finding out the dry tires were good for an extra two seconds. He had a superior setup, but if he just got lucky he would have pipped the other guys by a tenth not a second. The way he was driving today, he probably would have been 4th or 5th conditions being equal. The Williams has been capable of top 8 for a while now. A great drive could easily put them up a couple spots on top of that.

  2. M Sakr said on 6th November 2010, 18:52

    Now Red Bull will NOT break McLaren’s and Williams’ record for most poles in a single season! :D

  3. DeanR said on 6th November 2010, 18:53

    Amazing qualifying… Congratulations to Nico H

  4. COJones said on 6th November 2010, 18:54

    The settings on the car by the crew, the settings on the steering wheel by the driver, the tire choice, the tire pressures, the track condition, all came together and matched the talent of the driver perfectly. Even though there were two spots where he got a tad sideways and lost a little time, he creamed the cream of F1.

    Oh, and IAN? If those drivers all got hit by lightning they’d all be dead too. Just as meaningless of a point.

  5. Chris said on 6th November 2010, 19:05

    If the Hulk is that good, he’d be an idiot to sign a five-year deal with a team like Williams. Maybe he can weasel his way into Red Bull, when they dump Webber.

    • Currently I don’t think the Hulk has any other realist chance other than Williams even he wins tomorrow. If Red Bull dumps Webber, there would not be a single top driver try to sit on that spot as one would be a destined No. 2 even before preseason testing starts…

  6. What’s interesting is that Patrick Head attributed H√ľlkenberg’s speed to him being on a fully dry setup. That should surely play into his hands come tomorrow afternoon, if everyone else is on a compromised setup? Should make for a riveting race.

  7. Apostolos said on 6th November 2010, 19:35

    So i guess no one predicted the pole sitter :p

  8. Felipe Bomeny (@portugoose) said on 6th November 2010, 20:39


    That’s all I have to say

  9. This will make the start of the race very interesting, he is more than 1.7 sec slower in the dry than SV, (see practice 2 in the dry) so there will be a train behind him from the start. the first person past him will have the advantage of pulling away by more than 2 seconds a lap (Hulk will be defending)An attempt of a too aggressive pass may also mean loosing your position!

  10. Felipe Bomeny (@portugoose) said on 6th November 2010, 21:58

    I have this horrible feeling Vettel and the Hulk will come together on the opening seconds of the race…

  11. Absolutely awesome quali session, can’t wait for the race ! This is shaping up to be one of the greats. All the more reason why Brazil should always be the season closer…

  12. Webber and Vettel were so effusive in their praise for Nico, one could almost be excused for thinking they were sucking up to him for the race, ‘we love you Nico just let the blue cars through easily when we come to pass, no more of those Monza antics.’

  13. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 7th November 2010, 2:52

    Great qualifying can’t wait for the race to start. Nice job by Nico, Schumacher showed some good pace today hope that continues in the race as well.

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