Hulkenberg takes shock pole position at Interlagos

Nico Hulkenberg took pole position ahead of Vettel and Webber

Nico Hulkenberg took pole position ahead of Vettel and Webber

In an incredible twist that only Formula 1 could play host to, rookie driver Nico Hulkenberg has taken pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix, throwing the championship battle focus straight out of the window. He took top spot an entire second ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who led Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Jenson Button struggled, and will start 11th, with his championship aspirations now doomed. Here is today’s report:

Q1

The Force Indias battled to survive Q1

The Force Indias battled to survive Q1

Conditions were not optimal for the start of qualifying. Saturday Practice had been wet enough, then more rain fell between then and qualifying, meaning intermediate tyres were the way to go – for the time being.

The track wasn’t particularly wet though, so many cars stayed out for the entire session, hoping that the racing line would dry out, but it didn’t. The surprise of the session came from Force India, as both cars were struggling horribly in the damp conditions. Vitantonio Liuzzi spent some time in the knockout zone, before improving to 16th, while sending Adrian Sutil down to 18th. However, Adrian may have had a faster lap, ha he not been held up by Liuzzi during the session. Because of his 5-place penalty after his dangerous driving in Korea, he will start 23rd.

Timo Glock was easily the fastest of the new teams, setting a 1.22.130. He was followed by Trulli, Kovalainen, and Di Grassi. Christian Klien continued to beat Bruno Senna with apparent ease, this time by 0.7 seconds.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Adrian Sutil (Will start 23rd)

19) Timo Glock

20) Jarno Trulli

21) Heikki Kovalainen

22) Lucas di Grassi

23) Christian Klien

24) Bruno Senna

Q2

Jenson Button was knocked out of Q2

Jenson Button was knocked out of Q2

After being matched by Fernando Alonso in Q1, the Red Bulls led the way in Q2. The track continued to dry, but not quickly enough, as the fastest laps were still in the 1.19 range, well away from slick conditions.

The fun of the session came from the battle between Felipe Massa and Jenson Button to continue to Q3. Button could only manage 10th on his final lap, and Massa’s last effort knocked the McLaren back into 11th.

A surprise also came from Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Rosberg failing to get through, and they will start from 12th and 13th respectively. The Toro Rossos were 14th and 15th, Nick Heidfeld was annoyed to be back in 16th, while Vitantonio Liuzzi was well off the pace in 17th.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jenson Button

12) Kamui Kobayashi

13) Nico Rosberg

14) Jaime Alguersuari

15) Sebastien Buemi

16) Nick Heidfeld

17) Vitantonio Liuzzi

Q3

Hulkenberg is delighted, while the Red Bulls are downbeat

Hulkenberg is delighted, while the Red Bulls are downbeat

For the leaders’ first runs in Q3, they continued to stay on intermediates, although dry patches were becoming visible on the tarmac. When the inters began to wear far too much to be used effectively, Rubens Barrichello was the first driver to make the switch to dry tyres.

Lewis Hamilton initially took top spot on super-soft tyres, but then came the first of a series of shocks – Nico Hulkenberg knocked the McLaren off top spot with apparent ease. Fernando Alonso then went faster, but Hulkenberg simply came around a minute later even faster again.

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Hamilton and Alonso all took another lash at the Williams, but they all fell short by one tenth, as the paddock suddenly realised that a rookie was on pole position. But more was to come, as Hulkenberg had one more lap under his belt, and set a simply incredible lap: 1.14.470, an entire second faster than the rest of the field.

His team-mate Rubens Barrichello was 6th, ahead of Robert Kubica, Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa and Vitaly Petrov. However, these drivers were significantly overlooked, because of the simple fact that they were up to 2 or 3 seconds slower than Hulkenberg.

So, Nico takes his first ever pole position, the first for Williams since Nick Heidfeld in Germany in 2005, and the first for Cosworth since France in 1999 (Considering that that engine was actually marked as a Ford, you would have to go back to the 80′s to find the last time a Cosworth took pole).

Times from qualifying:

Pos  Driver         Team                   Q1        Q2        Q3
 1.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth      1:20.050  1:19.144  1:14.470
 2.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1:19.160  1:18.691  1:15.519
 3.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1:19.025  1:18.516  1:15.637
 4.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:19.931  1:18.921  1:15.747
 5.  Alonso         Ferrari                1:18.987  1:19.010  1:15.989
 6.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:19.799  1:18.925  1:16.203
 7.  Kubica         Renault                1:19.249  1:18.877  1:16.552
 8.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1:19.879  1:18.923  1:16.925
 9.  Massa          Ferrari                1:19.778  1:19.200  1:17.101
10.  Petrov         Renault                1:20.189  1:19.153  1:17.656
11.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:19.905  1:19.288
12.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1:19.741  1:19.385
13.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1:20.153  1:19.486
14.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:20.158  1:19.581
15.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:20.096  1:19.847
16.  Heidfeld       Sauber-Ferrari         1:20.174  1:19.899
17.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes   1:20.592  1:20.357
18.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:20.830
19.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1:22.130
20.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth         1:22.250
21.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth         1:22.378
22.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth        1:22.810
23.  Klien          HRT-Cosworth           1:23.083
24.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth           1:23.796
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