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Incredible Hulk on pole by a second for Brazilian Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Nov 2010   |  7:57 pm GMT  |  161 comments

Today was one of those days that live long in the memory. On a rapidly drying track 23 year Nico Hulkenberg gave Williams its first pole position for 100 races ahead of the main championship protagonists. And he did so by a huge margin – over a second.

Sebastian Vettel was second with Mark Webber third. Lewis Hamilton starts fourth on the grid tomorrow, one place ahead of championship leader Fernando Alonso.

Hulenberg: First Williams pole for five years (Darren Heath)


It was a swashbuckling performance by Hulkenberg, who has been getting progressively stronger in the second half of the season. For a driver to take a pole position in his first season is pretty special. He and Williams team mate Rubens Barrichello looked good on intermediate tyres on a wet track, but when it came time to put on slicks for the final laps in Q3 he went into a different league, taking pole by over a second from the two Red Bull cars.

The Williams has often showed itself to be quick on a green track this year. In Suzuka on a green track after the heavy rain Hulkenberg was second fastest in Q1 behind Vettel and today he again used that characteristic of the Williams well. There was nothing flukey about this result. He got the tyres up to temperature quickly, which was the key to it and then kept them in, setting three laps progressively faster than each other.

“It is amazing. I still cannot believe that I have done it,” said Hulkenberg. “Since the second half of the season, since I am more familiar with Formula One, with the team, with myself and the car, everything comes a lot easier to me. I can push the car more, learn the circuits quicker. It is just a whole learning process I guess.”

Alonso paid tribute to Hulkenberg’s performance, “The surprise came from Hulkenberg, ” he said. “He was the only one to get a clean lap, everyone else, myself included, was not as clever. The dry line was really narrow and you only needed to get the tyres ten centimetres outside it and you lost a lot of time.”

Barrichello was the first to go to slicks and he made a mistake, going off and losing temperature which he was then unable to get back.

Hulkenberg has been under a lot of pressure lately, with stories that he would lose his seat to well funded Venezualan Pastor Maldonado. He clearly has a strong mentality as he has used that pressure to deliver a bravura performance. This weekend the picture at Williams seemed to have changed, even before Hulkenberg’s pole. It seemed that the driver situation was wide open with the possibility that Barrichello might be the one to make way as he is paid €5 million a year, while Hulkenberg is on less than a million. Williams’ sponsorship team are beavering away to replace the departing RBS, Philips and AT&T, with a lot of effort going into Qatar. It may be that the line up stays the same, it’s all to play for and that is why this result today is so critical to Hulkenberg’s future.

This result is also a huge boost to the team in that regeneration process and it’s hard to imagine how Hulkenberg could be allowed to leave after this.

For Vettel and Webber the overriding feeling was relief that they had come through a difficult session in second and third places. “It is very tricky in these conditions, very easy to make a mistake,” said Vettel. “We were targeting for pole, but Nico was better than all of us today.”

It will make for an interesting opening stint tomorrow, If Hulkenberg gets away in the lead. In dry conditions the Williams is a good half a second a lap slower than the Red Bulls, so he will hold them up, with Hamilton and Alonso right behind.

This battle will be interesting after what happened in Korea, where Hamilton got ahead of Alonso in the pit stops, but then made a mistake and gave the place back. He will be utterly determined to keep him behind tomorrow and it could have quite a bearing on the championship situation.

It rained hard in the morning and the free practice session was wet. However the sun was peeping through the clouds as the cars rolled out on track at the start of qualifying.

Adrian Sutil was the driver eliminated in Q1, along with the drivers from the new teams, the first time this season.

It was not raining at the start of Q2 either and the track steadily improved. It was all about being on the right tyre at the right time. Lap time wise it was at the changeover point, but the drivers were reluctant to go onto slicks. The fastest times inevitably came at the end of the session and the drivers who fell the wrong side of it were Jenson Button, Kamui Kobayashi, Nico Rosberg, Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi, Nick Heidfeld, Tonio Liuzzi.

The tyre management plan for Q3 was very difficult to judge; the racing line was drying, but there were still parts of the circuit where it was wet. The intermediate tyres were overheating and all of the top ten runners would be in real trouble if they needed to use their intermediates tomorrow as they have no new sets left. The forecast says that it will be dry, however.

Remember there is only one day left in the online auction to bid for the signed Kobayashi overalls in aid of Mechanics Trust FIND OUT MORE

BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX, Interlagos, Qualifying
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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161 Comments
  1. Aaron9 says:

    Universal pictures presents The Incredible Hulk 3: Strikes in Brazil….Well done Nico superbb!!!

    1. veeru says:

      ha ha…very funny

  2. Galapago555 says:

    No matter what happens tomorrow, right from this moment I do vote for The Incredible Hulk as “driver of the day” :-D

    The best way to defend his 2011 seat against Maldonado. Simply incredible.

    And it looks very possible that we will have still four drivers with chances to get the title on the very final race…

    Definetively, the most exciting F1 season as far as I can remember.

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Lewis is in a bad shape contrarily to what you might think. His only chance is to win.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Yep, you’re right Jo. Both Lewis and Seb need to win in order to book their tickets for the finals in Abu Dabi. And Fernando is the only one that even with a DNF in Sao Paulo will be fighting for the title on the last race.

      2. unoc says:

        True… but Lewis has only himself to worry about. Vettel has the team to play with, and taking a victory for himself rather than handing it over to webber could cost webber the championship for the sake of marginally increasing his own chances.

        Say Alonso picks up one place (hulk because of pace, or hamilton off the line due to dirty side).
        Vettel paces hulk for first.
        Alonso + 12
        Vettel + 25
        Webber + 18
        Deficit going into Abu dhabi 12 points to alonso.
        Deficit going into Abu dhabi 7 points to webber
        To win champion vettel needs:
        13 points to win WDC off alonso
        AND
        7 + victory or 8 to win off Webber

        Abu Dhabi may be more of a ferrari track. Vettel needs to win and have webber or hamilton 2nd to beat an inform Alonso.

        Should Webber gain the win over vettel. Alonso finishing 4th. Webber is 2 points up and its winner takes all, rather than requiring another drive to be able to to help.

        I believe that if webber don’t pass vettel off the line ‘due to the dirty side of the grid’, we could see webber taking a pit stop as vettel has a slightly slower lap and webber taking the lead OR, vettel taking a stop coming out in front while webber stops, vettel loses a couple of tenths (due to fuel of course) and webber comes out in front.

    2. RickeeBoy says:

      OK – Here’s hoping the Hulk leads into the first corner. This then produces the perfect Lewis scenario to bite at the RBR heels – and I can see him doing just that as he has to go for the big points. Don’t think the Hulk can stay in front for more than 1 lap ( if that ) so my prediction is fireworks in the first couple of laps from Lewis – Maybe Seb will get into the first corner on the inside …. but I’d give the new boy a big berth after seeing his aggressive fighting before….. Yeeee Haaa bring it on

  3. AdrianP says:

    It was a great achievement by Hulkenberg, but it’s also obvious that he went a different way from all the big boys. He’s on a high downforce (wet) set-up [1] which paid dividends today and will pay dividends tomorrow if the race is wet, but if (as is more likely) it is a wet race, he’ll be going backwards.

    [1] Watching the split times, the Hulk was losing time on the last sector (i.e. mainly the straight) but mega in the second and to a lesser extent first sectors.

    1. VV says:

      His engineer has confirmed that he was on a dry setup.

      (It’s an academic question, what would be the point in going wet, given as it’s going to be dry tomorrow?)

      1. AdrianP says:

        The point in going wet on set-up would obviously be to qualify ahead. For Williams a no-brained as they wouldn’t be troubling the to guys in normal circumstances. Maybe the engineer is technically right in what he’s said about it being a dry setup but it’s definitely a higher downforce setup than anyone else around him.

      2. Spencer says:

        Then why was he not as quick in Q1 and Q2? It was right place right time and bloody brilliant too.

      3. Mark V says:

        Qualifying ahead with a wet setup means nothing if you’re way slower than the people behind you on a dry track. Even if he could somehow manage to keep them behind him, all they have to do is bide their time a few tenths back and then put in either a fast in lap or out lap depending on who pits first and they would gain track position.

      4. ChrisG says:

        totally disagree, this is harping back to “he only won because he was in a better car” he did a fantastic job, using the car to his full when like JA points out the Williams has been good in green conditions, his gap is slightly extenuation as not only did do a good job on his last but one lap to get pole by a smallish margin .. he timed it to perfection and got another lap in, when the others didn’t, also I think you will find that the difference between wet and dry set is minimal now, they don’t get to drop a new set of wings on anymore

  4. Tomorrow’s race is gonna be a classic. Great display by Nico well done son

    1. Rafael L says:

      As usual, for the epic Interlagos circuit.

  5. Chris Orr says:

    I think Williams cant do anything but not keep him on.
    What a great story that a rookie arises amongst all of this title deciding moves.

    Senna is 7 tenths down on his teammate Klien at home?

    1. Richard M says:

      Senna has never driven at Interlagos, but he still outpaced Klein all weekend up to halfway into Q1 when HRT pitted Klein for a fresh set of inters and did not pit Bruno.

    2. Andy C says:

      Look at the gap to Rubens from nico. Now that is a gap.

      Bruno has never raced in brazil before this weekend (I was surprised by that too).

  6. mtb says:

    Great drive from Hulkenberg – over 1 sec per lap faster than anyone else!

    The other big issue from the session was the performance of Jenson Button. Once again the “silky smooth” driver’s intermediate tyres experienced excessive wear in conditions that he supposedly excels in.

    Hopefully the hyperbole about the latter will finally die down, and journalists and avid fans alike will except him for the middle-of-the-road driver that he is – but I am not counting on it!

    1. Stephen F says:

      You can’t call him a middle of the road driver mate, for some reason his car hasn’t been performing in the latter half of the season, if you look at his early season form it speaks volumes. Also, a middle of the road driver doesn’t win a World Championship, if you bring up the fastest car argument then hell you might as well belittle every WDC. I respect Jenson more than any other driver because he WORKED his way to the top, he earned his title

      1. Phil says:

        Only modern history says “middle of the road” drivers don’t win wdc’s. K Rosberg, A Jones, P Hill. They are greats because of their championships, but they fit into the “average” driver group. There are 20 “average” gp drivers out there.

    2. Paul says:

      3 tenths off a team mate supposed to be killing him in a car and team built around that team mate resulted in Button being out in Q2. Not altogether that middle of the road. And when Nico Hulkenberg collides with overeager and unintelligent Vettel & Hamilton tommorrow we’ll see who’s laughing

      1. mtb says:

        “And when Nico Hulkenberg collides with overeager and unintelligent Vettel & Hamilton tommorrow we’ll see who’s laughing”

        Yep, my trousers are soaked!

        No doubt Button’s “great drive through the field” will be discussed ad infinitum, just as it was last year. On that occasion Vettel put in a superior performance, and this year Rosberg was more impressive – but Rosberg’s drive will undoubtedly be ignored, just as Vettel’s was.

        Button ended up on Hamilton’s tail after the first round of pit stops, but couldn’t keep up.

      2. Carl Craven says:

        What you failed to notice was that despite not keeping up with Lewis initially, Jenson started to reel Hamilton back in at .5 sec per lap before the safety came out as Lewis had killed his tyres. Lucky for Lewis the safety car ensured that he had a chance to pit without losing a place otherwise he’d have a had Button back on his tail on much much older tyres.

        Button and Hamilton crossed the line less than 1 second apart.

      3. mtb says:

        CARL CRAVEN

        Whether or not Button would have caught Hamilton is open to question.

        After the safety car period, Hamilton knew that he wasn’t going to catch the first three drivers and that Button was not going to launch an attack. Could that explain the 1 sec margin at the end of the race?

    3. Daniel Hoyes says:

      Sounds like you’ve been waiting for a screw-up from Jenson for a while now. Problem is, he has done far better than expected throughout the season and could yet beat Hamilton, though his weakness is being unable to drive around car problems and that is showing in the last couple of races (and unfortunately that weakness is exaggerated in comparison with his team-mate as it’s one of Lewis’s strengths).

      Amazing drive from the Hulk though. Truly brilliant. And James – how Eddie Jordan got a job with BBC and you didn’t is beyond belief. The suggestion that the pole was all down to Patrick Head was an absolute joke.

      1. mtb says:

        After his fortuitous results early in the season he has been a beacon of mediocrity. I have consistently pointed this out throughout the season.

        Some people have trouble accepting that he is just another driver and latch on to his handful of successes as proof that he is something special. At other times these same people dig deep to look for excuses for his incredibly average performances.

        If Jenson really is the cerebral driver that his fans claim then surely after almost 11 seasons in F1 he could figure out how to resolve the tyre heating issues that he allegedly hinder his performances.

      2. Daniel Hoyes says:

        If you have a less aggressive driving style you’re going to have more issues with tyre heating. It’s quite simple. The problem is, he isn’t an agressive driver which also gives the impression that he isn’t driving as fast those that are. And he’s better in races than qualifying, but a lot of fans don’t seem to realise that qualifying doesn’t count for anything.

        You don’t become world champion by being an average driver, and if Lewis beats him this year, that will be the first time in over 8 years he has been beaten by a team mate. And even that would be in a team which many people think is heavily biassed towards one driver, and many thought he would be severely embarrased. Ok, some team mates of Jensons over the years have definitely been “average”, but your team mate is the only realistic yardstick we can use. I’m not saying he’s the best driver – but he is in the top 5 or so, which in a field of 24 drivers is ABOVE average. (Would you really place him 12th or less? Who are the better 11 drivers?)

      3. mtb says:

        Thirteen better drivers, in no particular order, are as follows.

        Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Webber, Massa, Kubica, Heidfeld, Kobayashi, Rosberg, Schumacher, Sutil, Trulli, Hulkenberg

    4. Mark V says:

      Nobody, and I mean NOBODY wins the F1 championship by being a “middle of the road” driver. Any couch expert who says that about any champion (and it seems very common these days to say so), has an axe to grind. Period. In 60 years there have been only 31 champions, and yet there have been OVER 800 drivers in F1, (according to Wikipedia, Britain alone has produced 157), and there have been many “greats” who never won it. Sure you need a good car, but they don’t put just anyone in a championship contending car. What would be the point in that?

    5. For Sure says:

      A lot of defensive comments for Jenson and I am not surprised. Only his country men thinks he is a great driver. The whole knows that he is one of the weakest champions in the history.
      Yes, everybody wins with a top car, BUT there are cases where some decent drivers won with MASSIVELY superior cars such as Brawn GP or 96/97 Williams.

      1. Axu says:

        There will be at least one exception to the “anybody wins in a top car”: Vettel or Webber.
        They had the fastest car all season and they still didn’t win it until now. They even may be losing in one week’s time.
        With the fastest car for only half a season, Jenson was in a position to win the WDC at Interlagos (which he did).

      2. mtb says:

        Button benefited from Barrichello’s failure to perform in the first half of the season. Once Barrichello got his act together, he was generally too much for Button to handle – to deny that is to deny reality.

      3. Andy C says:

        Nobody is claiming jenson is the best driver ever.

        What annoys me is those claiming all of his wins and his wdc were due to better cars or flukes.

        Are you telling me Lewis, Fernando and Michael didn’t win their championships in the top one or two cars. The car is a big factor in f1, and on rare occasions amazing drivers achieve more than the car should.

        I personally like jenson and think he’s a good driver. I don’t for a moment blindly believe he is better than Lewis or Fernando. But implying he is rubbish is just plain nonsense.

        Let’s get away from these playground my driver is brilliant and your driver is rubbish stuff.

        I support all British drivers as I always have done, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate other drivers.

      4. For Sure says:

        For the record, I can’t stand Alonso more than I can stand Button and I am not here for childish “My fav driver is better than yours” sort of stuff.
        And I am not arguing that he car doesn’t play a huge role.
        And to me, rating Jenson among the top 10 is hardly calling him “rubbish”.
        I simply feel that he is not a championship material, I am sure it will upset some people, but that is the truth. Just like Schumacher, my all time favorite driver, isn’t a championship material at the moment. It’s a matter of fact.

        While I think that it is important to support your own country men, I feel that there is a lack of equality in the world of F1 politics, which I think is a bigger problem.

        English journalists were not hesitant to point out how Massa has been performing poorly and they never mention about Button who didn’t prove that he is a worthy champion.

      5. Jo Torrent says:

        “For Sure” is absolutely spot on. I think that nobody here dislikes Jenson relaxed behavior and his relaxed manners. I find him really perfect outside his car.

        As for his driving, he’s absolutely no world champion material. A great driver has to work around the car’s shortcomings and mishandling. He is absolutely unable to do that and even last year he struggled so much in the 2nd half of the season.
        When Schumi moved to Ferrari and Berger went to Benetton the austrian tested Schumi’s car and was stunned by how bad was it was handling and how did Schumacher managed to fly away to the title with that car. Brawn also stressed that Michael was able to post similar times with a bad handling car compared to an enhanced setyp.
        When you compare Lewis and Jenson, you see that Lewis is able to push a reluctant car whereas Jenson is stuck there looking for a better set up to save him. What stikes me even more is that he wasn’t able to make his tyres last more than Lewis. Whenever the tyres were suffring this year, it was the same for Lewis and Jenson.

        Final point, the British Journalist behavior which irritates me to the highest point and shows Jenson’s mastery in that respect. These journalists were pointing to Massa’s shortcoming on the 1st occasion and discussed whether he might keep his seat for many years. Now, Jenson is showing performances worst than Felipe and we here absolutely nothing but the usual “Jenson struggled today”.
        This week-end, Jenson invited – a yearly habit – all the British media to a dinner (James must have been there I guess) and these kind of attentions take their toll on the journalists objectivity. It is always easier to criticize those you’re less entitled to meet frequently.
        I think that the flaw is the same with the journalists in every country, I suspect that the German media finds it difficult to criticize Schumi or Vettel the same way.

        We’re here to remind them of their duty The OBJECTIVITY and let Felipe and Britney alone !

      6. James Allen says:

        I was not at Button’s dinner. I was invited but I was at the Senna movie premiere instead

      7. Peter C says:

        Of course, you know which country this blog comes from, but all you want to do is criticise the British press.

        Please can we get back to some sensible debate?

      8. For Sure says:

        First of all, James Allen is my most respected journalist and I admire his work, his accessibility platform here and I am sure he would welcome constructive criticism.
        And secondly, F1 shouldn’t be divided by territories or countries and the fans have every right to criticize constructively.
        There is nothing insensible about it.

  7. Endre Friedmann says:

    Bravo Hulkenberg! we need youngsters like him in the Sport. Looks like a great race tomorrow.

    1. Pinball says:

      Agreed. I’m sick of all those oldies that are getting around like Vetel, Kobayashi, Buemi, and Alguersuari.

      1. Endre Friedmann says:

        I am all for Kobayashi, Buemi and specially Alguersuari making into the poole of drivers that can fight for a pole, specially when not gifted the best car. The closer the drivers are, the better the show.

  8. Really exciting qualifying session. Tomorrow’s race will be fascinating.

    1. GP says:

      Interesting argument.

      Jenson is a talented driver without being the best by any stretch of the imagination. On a more personal level, he has a pleasant and likable personality.

      However, what has been grating lately is his numerous complaints about the car, brakes and tyres. The fact that he can’t bring his tyres to temperature is not a reason but a weakness. This is F1 and as an F1 driver his job is to get those tyres working, period. His team mate does. It is the same for Massa, his team mate gets the job done in the same car.

      This is a good example of the difference between good drivers and great ones.

      1. Peter C says:

        And what was Hamilton saying today……”No grip, tyres not lasting”

        When JB says it it makes him a poor driver?

        “That’s the difference between good drivers and great ones”.

        Had you thought perhaps the McLaren has been lacking this season?

      2. GP says:

        Of course McLaren is lacking, but my point is that Hamilton is able to get more out of the car than Button. Same for Alonso over Massa.

  9. Jo Torrent says:

    On the Hulk
    ***********

    I read something saying that Williams want a 5 year contract with the Hulk with 15 million he has to pay if he leaves before. They want transfer fees like in Football.

    I think that he made a great argument today and even before really. He clearly will be in F1 next year whether Williams keeps him or not. Willi Webber his manager isn’t a new kid on the block and Williams won’t get what they want for sure. I hope for them that they keep him with Barrichello as he’s maybe too green for being able to lead a team. Afterall, it was Barrichello who made the decision to go for slicks and he followed after insistence from his engineer.
    Another asset with him is his personality, he’s a very confident guy (arrogant to tell the truth) and very relaxed. When he was interviewed by the BBC in KOREA after the Redflag, the BBC commentator was asking telling him it was high time to go back to the car and he didn’t seem to mind (no stress whatsoever). Looking forward to having him among the big boys, great personality and a good talent so far.

    1. jmv says:

      arrogant?? that is really the wrong word.
      did you see him after he stepped out of the car? …not jumping like a nut… just calmly processing this big moment.

      well, anyway: good to see him growing! and great for williams, they can really use this now

      1. James Allen says:

        He’s certainly not arrogant. He’s quite an introvert, but that’s common with racing drivers.

      2. Mark V says:

        It’s nice that you say that since introversion is so often mistaken for arrogance by the extroverted majority. Just to add to that, many introverts tend to be very intense, a quality that a driver obviously needs in abundance.

      3. Tim Horton says:

        James, at the start of the season on BBC, an interview between Lee Mckenzie and Nico Hulkenburg was aired in which they participated in clay pigeon shooting. It may have been nerves, because it was perhaps his first really big international interview as an F1 driver, but Hulkenburg came across as supremely arrogant, to the point where it was almost like he was trying to pull off the whole ‘arrogant F1 driver act.’ Really put me off him, despite the fact that the first half of the interview revolved around him learning the ropes in the composites lab at the Williams factory.

      4. James Allen says:

        I’ve met a lot of arrogant racing drivers and he is not one of them, that’s all I can say. He’s very reserved

      5. Mario says:

        I saw that interview back then. He was not arrogant, but he was definitely dis-respective towards Lee who greatly outperformed him in shooting. Since then I have not seen any such behaviour from him. May be he changed. Maybe it was just the case when things got out of him despite his intentions.

        Anyway great performance from him this time. He left all the other top ten drivers scratching heads. To tell the truth he was taken by surprise himself, he definitely did not spend too much time celebrating. All eyes on him seem to make him hide a little, but he is destined to learn how to deal with it.

  10. phil says:

    Was his car set up to take advantage of the damp conditions or was it just pure speed?

    1. James Allen says:

      Forecast is dry tomorrow, so you go for dry set up

      1. Ibrahim Patel says:

        another interesting factor is that if it is dry, the top 10 will have all done a few more laps than usual out, fast, in on the softer tyre…and with the track being green, im guessing they will grain up quick.

        Maybe therefore, jenson should go hard, and try something different. Even if i doesnt work for him, he will hold up the RBR’s for hamilton

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        you’re dreaming mate. Jenson will be way down the field.

  11. Reg says:

    At least Webber can keep boasting that none of his teammates have outqualified him at Interlagos.
    Oh wait…

    1. PaulL says:

      What mate?

  12. onyx says:

    Been saying how good the Hulk is for ages!Get this man in a top car,he’s wasted at Williams.Agree with comment about Button-absolute Rubbish today as was Massa!

    1. LJ says:

      Button wasn’t amazing granted, but he wasn’t as rubbish as you let on. If you were paying attention the margin between 1st and 12th was like 3 tenths. Which is incredible considering the Redbulls are easily 1/2 a second to a second faster on a dry track.

      1. onyx says:

        ‘If i was paying attention’-dont be so patronising!Button has been very poor in the last few races particularly in qualifying-as many people say above he’s surely one of the least talented wdc ever!(see also D.Hill)-has he beaten Hamilton once for pace this yr bar Monza?

      2. mtb says:

        He deserved his victory in Shanghai – I can’t deny that. But otherwise, he has almost always been out-driven by Hamilton.

        Based on comments that Whitmarsh made to BBC RAdio 5 Live in Singapore, Button’s “intelligent” decision to use the rear wing with the larger elements in Monza was the only logical choice. i.e. Hamilton made a serious set-up blunder.

        As you point out, he has been very poor in the last few races. But I would go slightly further, and say that he has generally been very poor in the second half of the season.

        Of course, his fans in the media and the general public constantly produce excuses for his average performances – “the track temperature was too hot”, “his tyres were too cold”.

        I don’t have anything against Button personally, but I can’t stand the garbage that people who are desperate for a world-beating hero say and write about him. If the twaddle were to stop, I would comment on his performances as frequently as I comment on Timo Glock’s performances.

        You made an excellent point about the other mediocre WDC who was blindly worshipped by so many people!

  13. Jo Torrent says:

    On the race to the title
    ************************

    RedBull were the winners of this qualifying session in my view. They put their cars where they had to which is demoralizing for the opposition as they seem to out qualify the others whether it’s dry or wet. And they have Hamilton who might act as a hurdle against Alonso.

    If the race first lap unfolds like the qualifying order, once Hulk is overtaken by the title chasers it’ll be a RedBull 1-2 (unless new catastrophy).
    For Lewis Hamilton, it will be over then as he will reduce only slightly the gap to Alonso at best and loose to the RedBull guys.
    For Alonso, if he doesn’t manage to overtake Lewis in the pits, the gap will be so reduced to Mark that he will be in a very delicate situation in Abu Dhabi.

    If the race unfolds normally, Webber will be the great winner but you never now with the RedBulls and with this year crazy races.

    The steady performer among the title chasers is Jenson Button. He’s not even on the level of Massa. It seems that he looses speed as the season progresses for the 2nd year in succession. Today’s showing was absolutely catastrophic with the now usual comment “lack of grip” and “brakes lock up”. I must reckon that Withmarsh was smart by not asking him too early to help Lewis, he won’t have to discuss team orders with him. That’s at least one problem less to handle. Next year Hamilton will destroy him and he will retire afterwards.

    Felipe MASSA really surprised me in a bad way. I really thought he would behave in Brazil as he always does. I don’t know whether he didn’t find enough motivation to help Alonso or maybe he did find enough motivation not to help Alonso. I hope for him that this year’s form is due to the tyres and the accident because if he keeps his form next year, it’ll be his last at Ferrari.

    1. Paul says:

      “Next year Hamilton will destroy him and he will retire afterwards”

      I thought that was going happen this season Hamilton was head and shoulders better etc etc.

      Instead Button steps into a car and team built around Hamilton and out races and out smarts him for the majority of the season. Next year when the car is built around Jenson & Lewis driving style we will truly see.

      And when Nico Hulkenberg collides with overeager and unintelligent Vettel & Hamilton tommorrow we’ll see who’s laughing

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        You can keep hoping Paul but Jenson and Lewis aren’t in the same league. Jenson was never quicker than Lewis in race trim and only gambles paid for him at the season’s start.
        If your dream of seeing Vettel and Hamilton colliding with the Hulk happens, the title is for Webber or Alonso and Jenson is still he weakest of the 5.

        Look for someone else to support. Otherwise, you’re not going to enjoy next championship.

      2. mtb says:

        “…only gambles paid for him at the season’s start.”

        And they really were GAMBLES – fhere was nothing intelligent about his decisions.

        to be fair to him, i think that his victory in China was thoroughly deserved, but Melbourne was pure luck. With the exception of Shanghai, he has been average.

        To be honest, I don’t think that he has ever recovered from being re-passed by Hamilton in Turkey. That was the moment when Hamilton effectively said to him, “I’m the man and you are my no. 2.”

      3. Andy C says:

        Jo,

        care to vary your comment after jenson finished less than a second behind Lewis?

      4. Jonny White says:

        Andy,

        pre safety car, both on primes, having pitted and just got back out in front of Button, Hamilton pulled out 10 seconds or so over him in circa. 20-25 laps.

        Post safety car, the fact that Button managed to keep the gap at circa. one second until the end of the race was less meaningful in terms of their respective pace as IMO as:

        (1) they were both on different compounds;
        (2) they were both badly held up at different points by lapped backmarkers;
        (3) With a few laps to go and Alonso not being catchable, it’s debateable whether they were both going full pelt.

      5. Jonny White says:

        “out races and out smarts him for the majority of the season”

        Button outrace Hamilton? Really, where and when?

        I must have missed that. Button gambled in Australia having shot his intermediates and already been overtaken by Hamilton. He made an, admittedly smart, choice in China to stay out when the majority of the field chose to pit but he was still pushed to his limit at the end of the race by Hamilton who had both started behind Button and pitted on several occasions. The only race where Button has genuinely had the better of Hamilton was Monza and that was down to a completely different choice of set-up and Hamilton’s mistake. The only other occasions Button has finished in front of his teamate (Spain, Hungary, Singapore and Japan), Hamilton was comfortably infront and suffered either a mechanical failure that was not his fault or an, overeager Aussie!

        I don’t have a downer on Button, he is clearly one of the top 10 or so drivers in the world. However, I cannot fathom people that argue that he is at Hamilton’s level or, as you put it, has regularly outraced him.

        IMO, Hamilton is at least a few tenths quicker in terms of raw speed, is a far better racer, and has a much wider window of performance.

        Hamilton and Alonso are clearly the class acts of the field!

      6. mtb says:

        The difference between Australia and Korea is that in the latter race other factors did not work to Button’s benefit after he was forced to pit earlier than his rivals in order to replace his worn intermediates.

        As you point out, there are very few occasions when Button has had the measure of his team-mate.

        Based on comments that Martin Whitmarsh made to Radio 5 Live in Singapore, Button chose the most logical set-up for Monza and Hamilton chose not to. That suggests that Button’s decision was not the stroke of genius that some would have us believe.

      7. Phil says:

        Another Button fan in denial.

      8. mtb says:

        Thankfully there are some people who can look at the issue in a rational manner!

    2. Adam Tate says:

      I don’t know Jo, that’s a lot of If’s. I can just as easily see Webber having his usual poor start and Hamilton knicking 3rd off him. I think after lap 1 it’ll be The Hulk with Vettel hot on his tail, a small gap to Hamilton, who will have Webber and Alonso right up his gear box and then Kubica, Shumi, Massa all cruising around, waiting for an opportunity, while Button will be killing himself just to catch up with those guys.

      But if we’re going for out there predictions/hopes,

      a Massa, Hamilton, Hulk podium would be my dream come true.

      1. Nando says:

        Going to be interesting whether the fast starting Schumacher can take advantage, with Webber’s starting problems he’s almost a road-block for his side of the grid and can see him putting the chop on Alonso. My prediction for first-lap 1st Hulk, 2nd Vettel, 3rd Hamilton, 4th Schumacher, 5th Barrichello.

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        100% agree with you, my comments where build on a BIG IF. It all depends on the 1st few laps actually and how the Hulk will behave. Will he be an easy target or will he keep them behind for a few laps ?

  14. michael grievson says:

    What a session. Was brilliant. I don’t think he’ll hold the redbulls up. Once they’re on the final straight with the F duct they steam past

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      I hope that he’ll hold the 4 mad dogs for 10 laps or so. That will be fun to watch having them so close to each other.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        If that happens I will probably have a heart attack! :-D

        Fingers crossed for a (unusual this year) great start by Fernando!

  15. guy says:

    Well done Hulk. However James the key for the race tomoorow will be if the hulk splits the red bulls after the first corner.

  16. Jo Torrent says:

    Brazilians Misery
    *****************

    I posted a few days ago to say how rubbish is Bruno Senna because he was in Singapore 1s behind Klien who barely tested the HRT car before. Someone answered that he suffered a snap oversteer. Today he was 7 tenths behind Klien in Bruno’s own country and own home city. Maybe the emotion of seeing the movie on his uncle was getting to him.

    I think that Mr Nephew gave us the proof today of his true level.

    By the way, what’s going on with these Brazilians ? Every single one is being crushed by his team-mate in Sao Paolo.

    Gap Alonso/Massa : 1.112
    Gap Hulk/Barrichello : 1.733
    Gap Klien/Senna : 0.713

    1. sixtenths says:

      I am not sure if the original Despair Squid was actually this bad …

      1. Richard M says:

        Bruno has never raced at Interlagos so in P1 was learning the track and in P2 and P3 he was quicker than Klein and he was quicker in Q1 than Klein up to the point when HRT pitted Klein for a new set of Inters and did not pit Bruno.

      2. brendan says:

        he could of pitted himself.

        klien has alot of experience so perhaps thats has a bearing.

        klein clearly is quicker and overall better. should be in F1 full time for sure.

      3. Jo Torrent says:

        Formula 1 and any sport is about delivering when it matters and the gap here is awesome. FP speed is worthless.

      4. MR says:

        Senna was delivering when it mattered I was looking at the F1 timing screen, in Q1 he was quicker the Klein and the HRT pitted Klien for a new set of inters and that is when he posted the lap times that was faster than Bruno’s, who was left out on the same set of inters the enitre session.
        I don’t think you can expect a rookie driver to pit themselves I think they rely on their teams for that, just look at Hulkenberg who relied on his team to make the call to go on dry tyres. Senna is quicket the Klein.

    2. Rafael L says:

      Completely agree

      1. christos pallis says:

        This playground opinion of Klien’s talent is getting totally uninterlectual. Armchair critic’s please look at the facts;

        1. Bruno was faster in every practice session

        2. Bruno has never raced at Interlagos before this weekend

        3. Klien was given a second set of fresh intermidiate tyres in conditions that would have benefitted from such a tactic.

        Yes you make you’re own luck in F1 but to ignore these FACTS is just plain ignorant. Does anyone remember how Klien performed in his first F1 season in a better car than this…………answer is ‘expletive’ aweful.

        much love

      2. unoc says:

        disagree. Senna is alot faster than he showing.

        We know fro teh start of the year, and James could clarify if I get this slightly wrong, but Chandhok started the year with the lighter chassis (great since senna is the bigger driver), the faster gearbox and something else.. can’t quite remember. WE know the car hasn’t been developed, so I’m guessing, Senna hasn’t magically got a lighter chassis when the team can’t afford even to run there best drivers.

        Senna nad CHandhok were close in HRTs, yet in 2008, when Senna last raced in single seaters, doing GP2, Senna came 2nd, while in the sister car, CHandhok came down in 10th on less than half the points.

        Now, if we had 1 + 1 here, we can realise that Senna’s car is several tenths slower than it’s sister car (whoever it is drive by).

        More fun to add to this is. Between the end of 2008 honda and 2009 brawn, Senna did some testing for honda/brawn. By the end Senna has 2 tenths off World Champion to be Jenson Button’s time.

        So Senna is quite quick according to that.

        Now 7 tenths off Klien, if the cars are reliable means that Klien is half a second faster than Button, and infact even faster Lewis Hamilton!!!

        So either, I was wrong and Klien does deserve a seat, probably pathetically slow driver Lewis Hamilton… or maybe Senna hasn’t been given a fair chance and combined with lack of experience, and being faster than Klien before K got new tyres nad Senna didn’t in Q1.

        WE can say that Senna is faster and looking at the time difference is uselss

    3. Jonathan De Andrade says:

      Hey Jo,

      I am from Brazil, and to be honest since Senna we have being waiting for a new champion who has not come yet! once we had three ina a row (emerson, piquet, senna) now we are almost 20 years without a title. Almost had it with Massa 2008, but after that the competition has being very tough! this generation of drivers is incredible (Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and others). these following years are to be great as it was back in the 80′s. hopefully Massa will be back on the chalenge next year, and the new generations (Di Grassi, B.Senna) will have a go some day in the future!

  17. VV says:

    One of my favourite F1 moments in years and years. Bravo Nico!

  18. Paul says:

    Stunning performance from Hulkenberg. Forget about Williams, Mercedes and Renault really ought to sign him for next year.

    1. Adam Tate says:

      Mercedes and Renault (Lotus Renault or whatever they will be called) seem pretty set on their line ups for next year. There is always the Petrov question. But I’d rather see the Incredible Hulk and Rubens develop Williams into a race winning team again. It would be a great story.

  19. Stephen F says:

    Well done Nico, a great way to ram the critics words right back down their throat, maybe Maldonado isn’t such a great idea now to Williams. In a field against 4 world champions in a vastly inferior car compared to the big guns I’d rate this as my highlight of the season.

    From a die hard Button fan, outstanding Hulk!

    1. **Paul** says:

      Agreed. It’s apt that it is in Brazil that I see the first bit of senna-esq driving for years. To take such a moderate car and put it on pole by 1.1s in a straight like for like fight with others who are often given massive praise in their very very fast cars is just incredible. An awesome display from the Hulk, this was no fluke, no lucky gamble on different tyres or setup, it was a series of fabulous laps. Kudos to Hulkenberg.

    2. Adam Tate says:

      Stephen F, Nice name, the name of my university.
      Anyway, I agree, Hulkenbergs’ pole is the highlight of my season as well.

      And from a die hard Massa fan, which has been hard this year.

      Well done Nico!

  20. jmv says:

    saw the press conference… what struck me was that the red bull drivers seem to be totally disconnected from eachother.. no glancing at eachother, no eye contact… when one spoke the other looked rather annoyed… like thinking “oh it’s him again”

    i can only wonder how driver briefings are not a nice place to be at the moment.

    1. Adam Tate says:

      Can’t wait to see what Webber does at season’s end. Even if he doesn’t win the championship he’ll probably go elsewhere. Or, it may be rather Webber like for him to stay put at Redbull, they will still have a good car for next year, and it would be fascinating to watch a team where the teammates hated eachother in a fury not seen since the days of Senna V Prost.

    2. S. Butts says:

      First season of F1, i take it?

  21. Sufyaan Patel says:

    A superb performance by the other Nico today! He just kept going faster and faster whilst the others struggled to find time. That Williams isn’t too shabby in a straight line either so if he can keep it together, he may be able to keep those Bulls at bay… but maybe not for long. Hamilton will pose a threat as the Mclarens quick in a straight. And as for Fernando, he will be trying to make sure the Red Bulls don’t get too far ahead.

    James (or anyone for that matter), how has ‘The Hulk’ faired off the line this year?

    Oh and I can’t help but think of fireworks going off at turn one between the top four title contenders going into turn one… and onwards. I hope none of them are taken out of the race or lose any bodywork though :)

    Can’t wait!!

    1. Ibrahim Patel says:

      cant wait indeed…alonso will be watching his mirrors close as his best mate from spa is behind him. Rubens “dont forget to brake” barichello.

      1. Sufyaan Patel says:

        Haha. But to be fair, quite a few outbroke themselves for that chicane. Alonso managed to slow it down and got walloped. I have confidence in Alonso that he’ll deliver a good result tomorrow :)

      2. mo kahn says:

        hahaha.. a precarious position for Alonso indeed with cry-chello behind him with Spa memory firing up :)

  22. Andy C says:

    As someone who grew up in the era of Williams success I have always kept an eye on them, even if no drivers I follow are with them.

    Today I was punching the air when he started to put in those laps.

    You can consider the arguments about his last lap being just the right time (but he got his timing brilliantly today). But to beat the red bulls and Fernando on that lap by at least 2 tenths was brilliant.

    Excellent day for nico and for Williams. Let’s hope this helps the sponsorship situation. From what I hear nico is becoming less under threat for next year than Rubens. Let’s hope they keep them both.

    1. Adam Tate says:

      Yes! Money by damned, they should keep both drivers at all costs.

    2. S. Butts says:

      After today, I think signing Maldonado would leave a really bitter taste in F1 fans’ mouths. Whoever he replaced.

      It was Rubens who said it was time for slicks and Niko who delivered on that recommendation.

      I like their driver line-up. It’s fascinating.

  23. Ben says:

    Hukenberg has certainly secured his place in F1 for next season, and his performance today is worth more for the Williams team than the sponsorship money for Maldonado. However, it might have given Williams an additional headache; his stock value will have risen that the front running teams will have taken notice. With Massa and Webber’s contracts running out next year, and Schumacher’s future constantly in question, and Petrov’s costs to the Renault team beginning to outweigh his sponsorship income, you can be sure that all those teams will be looking at him now – and they have bigger pockets than the cash strapped Williams team,

    However, it must be pointed out that he is not ready to lead a team yet. Rubens made the call to go on slicks and Hulkenberg said no. It was only at the team’s instruction that he switched and that decision came from the team leadership of Barrichello.

    This time next year I believe that Hulkenberg will be ready to make the step up – but at the moment he still needs a mentor to guide him. If Williams ditch Barrichello for a pay driver it will be the worst thing for both Hulkenberg’s development and the long term future of one of Formula 1′s most successful teams.

  24. Adam Taylor says:

    One word … ridiculous

  25. Lilla My says:

    It seems that we get one surprising pole sitter each year lately (Vettel in Italy 2008, Fisichella in Belgium 2009 and now Hulkenberg). I’m curious to see if he can hold his position through the first corners (remembering how he was cutting the chicanes with Webber just behind, I doubt it, especially that he’ll have a whole bunch of angry title contenders right behind him. But then again – I thought Vettel couldn’t stay in P1 in Monza 2008 for the entire race…).

    However, the thing that really shocked me was the gap between Hulkenberg and the Red Bulls. Is it possible that he had strictly qualifying set up that won’t be that good for the race?
    As for the race itself: I think Vettel and Hamilton will attack fiercely as they have nothing to loose. I don’t know about Webber – he’s not good at starts so he might get overtaken by the rest of the contenders. Alonso takes it calmly lately, so I expect him to wait patiently for some opportunity to attack. But then again – who knows – I would love to see his straightforward fight with Hamilton. I know that some people would like to see some drivers crash at the beginning or get a DNF later, but I personally hope they will all be fine. I’d love to see some real racing. That can be interesting especially if none of the contenders overtakes Hulkenberg at the start so they get all packed right behind him. As Red Bulls, Ferraris and McLarens are much faster than Williams that could make for some ineteresting battles.

    Apart from that – I’m quite disappointed with Button (didn’t expect him to be extraordinary, but I thought he would get into Q3 at least) and very disappointed with Massa (I really hoped he could do well here).

    Anyway, can’t wait for the race – it can be really exciting!

    1. Maxime Labelle says:

      I think Hülkenberg was the only one able to make an extra lap. This partly explains why he managed such a lap time. However, the fact that he managed his tyres is a great achievement on his part.

      1. Andy C says:

        Correct, but nico was .25 quicker on his penultimate lap that nobody could match.

      2. Lilla My says:

        That’s only partly true as I think he would have still got P1 even without the extra lap (correct me if I’m wrong) only with a smaller gap. Kudos to him for not making any mistakes where the others weren’t able to be faultless.
        However, I still have an impression that there must be something in the set up and he will pay for it in the race. Though he will probably still do better than he would do if he had opted for a standard set up. We’ll see in 6 hours :).

      3. Jo Torrent says:

        He would’ve been in pole even without that extra lap. He has a couple of laps better than anybody else.

    2. JohnBt says:

      “he’ll have a whole bunch of ANGRY title contenders right behind him”

      LOL. But you’re spot on there Lilla. Nice post.

  26. Debb says:

    Well that I was not expecting! fair play to Hulkenberg though he put in the laps when they were needed. The race tommorow is going to be fantastic. Will Hulkenberg split the red bulls? can Button make his way up through the field? If Hulkenberg gets a great start will Vettel come under pressure from Hamilton and Webber? I cannot wait for tommorows race- it has the makings to be a classic!

  27. Jey says:

    James,
    Any word on Michael.Until the pitstops on Q3 to get the slicks ON,he looked very very strong.

    Couple of posts ago you mentioned that he seems to be 2 tenths down on Nico.Do you still think thats the case?

  28. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    I have a funny feeling that Webber is goung to crash into someone at the start tomorrow. He looks quite flustered and his Red Bull dream is basically over.

    Hulkenburg will be slower in the dry and Webber will certainly not yield for the wunderkid Vettel.

    I think we’re in for fireworks tomorrow.

    1. Rafael L says:

      I was thinking something similar, to be honest.

      I do hope that Webber does well though…

      1. BMG says:

        He is on the clean side of the track, with a slower car in front. It will be interesting to see who Hulkenberg tries to defend the racing line against, Vettel or Webber.

        I’ve been a Williams fan since AJ drove for them, so it was great to see them back on top even if it’s just qualifying.

        It’s funny how a driver lifts when he is looking for a drive for the next season. We saw it with Webber and Redbull, Kubica when Kimi was looking to sign with Renualt and Massa with Ferrari early on in the season.

    2. Lilla My says:

      I have a simmilar impression. Because of the latest events people somehow stopped concidering Vettel as the crash kid and expect Webber to do something of that kind.
      The beginning can be thrilling! Then again – it can somehow also be boring… you never know with F1.

  29. MR says:

    Really happy for Williams and The Hulk made the session much less disappointing after Button failed to get into Q3.

    On a different note I have heard that the two HRT chassis are not the same, the musical chair one is newer and lighter than Senna’s, do you know if thats true James?

  30. Lewis says:

    Apparently he was running on a dry setup, so how was he so fast? Raw pace?

  31. mo kahn says:

    A wonderful wonderful wonderful performance by The Hulk. My earlier comment I told you that he is best retained.

    I think RB and Ferrari can closely look at Hulk now, since Massa is not firing up due to the tire situation and must be given 2011 to reassert his position with the Ferrari. Webber in Redbull offers not much of a future to RB. Vetel and Hulk will be the most lethal combination on the grid. Mclaren still has the best driver line-up. Mercedes will be difficult to beat with Michael coming good in Korea and in Qualifying, which means his performance deficit is strictly coz’ of tires and with Pirelli coming next year, I logical that Michael will be unbeatable, and I was right when I forewarned everyone to watch Mercedes for 2011.. they were testing single diffuser in FP1… rest I’ll leave to your individual judgements. :)

    1. Adam Tate says:

      I don’t know mo. If Massa has tires more to his liking next year, I think an On Massa and Alonso is easily the best line up on the grid. Yes the McLaren duo is good, but Jenson historically isn’t as good as Felipe, and though I actually think Hamilton has more potential than Alonso, they are pretty even. Mercedes will need to improve if they want Nico and Schumi to win, and though Redbull’s line up is good (for now) If Alonso and Massa were in the RB6 this championship would be over by now.

      Another thought: Anyone fancy a Kubica and Hulkenberg line up. Could be fantastic I’d wager.

      1. mo kahn says:

        Ah Adam,

        FIRSTLY:
        Kubica and Hulkenberg would be a lethal combination. The last two couple of races Hulk has shown that any team he goes to will be a lethal in terms of driver line up. Hypothetical Combinations:

        Nico (Ros) Nico (Hulk) – Mercedes (this driver line-up would have driver experience deficit).

        Alonso and Hulk – Ferrari. (Absolute Lethal, They can re-create a certain degree of Schuey Magic by conditioning Hulk into a world champion, like Redbull is doing with Vetel which I feel every team should do and its a brilliant strategic investment, both for the team as well as F1)

        Vetel and Hulk – Redbull.(experience doesn’t count since Vetel lately seemed to have come of age and they have Adrian Newey, even a lesser talented driver can win in Adrian’s car)

        Hamilton and Hulk – Mclaren (would be a mistake since they are all for Hamilton- Hamlaren).

        Kubica and Hulk – If Renault (Lotus next year I presume) delivers a good car and we are all witnessing some interesting aero innovations from Renault this year.

        SECONDLY:

        I’ve been saying this since six months that Mercedes is already working on a 2011 car, Ross Brawn and Schuey’s combination will not be sitting idle and letting things come to them, they are go getters, so its evident what they are up to and they have made it rather public about their 2011 intentions and running a single diffuser FP1 in Brazil this year which is a requisite next year is a clear indication they are already developing the components needed to attack next year. And there has been a significant improvement in Schuey’s performances in Korea and in Qualifying in Brazil.

        THIRDLY:
        I had earlier questioned the ability of RB drivers ability to wrap up championships. I had asked a simple basic question:

        How many races would Schuey, Alonso, Hamilton would have taken to wrap up the championship if they were in a RB. I seemed to have touched a wrong nerve in a lot of people. And now I feel they are eating their own words.

  32. James says:

    Massa would always want to do well for his home race, but at least from where he’s starting, it pretty much removes the chance of him having to move out of Alonso’s way in front of a passionate crowd.

  33. NJoy says:

    First of all, kudos to Hulk, stunning performance in qualy whilst being quite strong all weekend so far. It’s beautiful when newcomers shine

    What I would really like to know, is what tyres each of the top 10 will start the race with? How worn are softs on leaders’ cars? Those who has set their best on inters will get a fresh set of softs, i guess. But I can’t find information on tyres used for each driver’s best… Would there be any notable benefit in having a bit freshier tyres at all?

    1. NJoy says:

      And another thing that puzzles me – on the video we can see Petrov coming out of pits behind Kubica, then a bit later Robert goes off the track and falls behind. But in the last seconds Vitaly’s car flashes before RedBull of Webber, which means he was behind his team-mate. Does Robert have a pocket teleport or something, coz if Petrov went off the track too it wouldn’t escape attention of TV. Did he let Kubica through on his fast lap, and who’s decision was that if my guess is correct? That’s just plain stupid

      Anyways, i’m looking forward to see an epic race tomorrow, this season is amazing

  34. Malcom says:

    Superb performance today by Nico…..if Williams don’t resign him…..look for the Hulk to be Kubica’s teammate at Renault next year.

  35. James says:

    Were the Red Bulls running the F-Duct? Because there wasn’t any sign of it on Webber’s onboard footage (again).

  36. Paul says:

    Absolutely fantastic pole by nico! As a proud Williams fan this is a great day. Surely Williams can’t justify replacing nico with a semi-pro pay-driver next year – out qualifying the field by a whole second, including your massively experienced team-mate on his home soil. It was of course Rubens call to initially switch to slicks, but nico drove the nuts off it, with incredible maturity. Best pole of the year, no doubt – who’s with me? :-)

  37. Baktru says:

    Well done by Hulk obviously. I didn’t see it as it was at a very late hour here though.

    And I can’t help but feel disappointed by F1 today. This weekend has the last rally of the Belgian Championship as well and I was just watching some images of the first day there. F1 just doesn’t have the grit and true spirit of foghting cars and circumstances that rally does.

    Greasy roads, torrential rain? Sure why not!

    Except for F1 where rain stops races, a badly laid curb needs to be relaid, bumpy asfalt gets resurfaced…

    I bet tonight will be a great race, but it still doesn’t beat seeing race cars navigate greasy slippery narrow roads with no run-offs at all though.

    Too bad Rally doesn’t translate to TV as well as F1 does.

  38. F1cam says:

    Can anyone tell me if the “dirty side of the track” will be an issue for some off the starting line?

  39. rossetto says:

    Nico, Webber and Alonso starting from the clean side and Vettel and Hamilton on the dirty side.
    If Webber passe Vettel at the start, what is Horner going to say to Vettel?
    Something will happens.

  40. JohnBt says:

    Highlight of the year for F1 and Hulk.

    Turn 1 will shuffle the order and how many laps will Hulk hold the contenders.

    Another good race lined up, hope for a damp track drying out.
    But forecast predicts a dry race, hope not.

  41. michael grievson says:

    After reading the news I’m glad jenson and everyone else is ok.

  42. theothercoldone says:

    It was interesting to read the general comments on the official f1 site after qualifying. Tony Fernandes appears to have used this as a vehicle to both mention the Air Asia name (in connection with Williams), and also that a statement will be made regarding the ‘off-track situation’.

    Any leads, and is this mention a little bit of a move towards the possible name change for next year? I don’t remember Air Asia figuring much in his comments earlier – it has been more about Lotus and the heritage aspect.

  43. Syed says:

    Looks like Massa is not going to jail after all! lol

  44. sammy says:

    I’m wondering what will happen if Vettel will be in the lead with Webber right behind and Alonso being in P5 or worse…
    Regarding the first corner, there will be no incidents in the front -see previous year(s).

    My prediction for this race is:
    1 Vettel
    2 Webber
    3 Hamilton
    4 Hulk
    5 Alonso

    Massa DNF

    1. James Allen says:

      Team strategist I spoke to says RBR 1 & 2, Ham 3rd, Alo 4th, Hulk 5th

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      I don’t know how you see Hulk behind everyone and ahead of Alonso.

  45. Justin says:

    Hi James,

    I’ve been meaning to have a [mod] post about pay drivers in F1 for a while, and this seems like an excellent opportunity to do so.
    I know pay drivers have been around forever, but how can the sport really claim to have the best drivers in the world when a proportion of the field are only there because they can show a bit of talent however their father’s play golf with some multi-billionaire South American oil baron?
    HRT has been an embarrassment this year swapping out to whichever driver has the most cash in their wallet at the start of each Grand Prix weekend. Virgin little better, I am a big fan of the Virgin brand, however I feel their brand has only been diminished with the half hearted attempt to enter F1 along with constant chatter about next years driver being a pay driver.
    Renault has carried Petrov through the year, I’m sure someone could actually calculate how much revenue he has cost them if he were able to compete any where near the level of Kubica. No one expects a rookie to be as good as Kubica who is one of the sports great talents, but the difference should be more like that of Barichello to Hulkenberg. The old guard at Renault has moved on so Petrov can hardly cry that he is being bullied by Briatore like previous drivers. It’s a simple matter that Renault got greedy and it has cost them. They need a Hulkenberg; if they want a sponsor get them to put a sticker on the car not the driver.
    Finally Williams, sure they need some cash, but in my opinion they have possibly the ideal driver combination for an emerging team (or re-emerging rather). Barichello is known to be one of the best set-up guys in the business (how much did he help Jenson last year?), he is also contributing hugely to future development and I would put money on him being a good mentor for Hulkenberg. Speaking of Hulkenberg he has just proven exactly my point that a truly gifted driver can give more to the team in results (well OK I know it was only Saturday) and kudos that a pay driver could never do. That Williams are considering getting rid of either driver to grab a bit of revenue is a crime. To do this is incredibly short sighted and almost guarantees their continued languish in the mid-field.
    Anyway James, I would love to hear your onion on this, I know you’ve posted comments on pay divers in previous articles, but your insights into pay drivers would be most interesting to hear?

    1. benny boy says:

      Good post, however if williams have two choices take a pay driver or continue with there current line up and then cut jobs and developments and fall to the back of the grid due to a poor car, which do you think they should choose?

      to be sucessfull they need good drivers and money to build a competive car. Maybe one pay driver and one talented driver is the best compromise to keep the team going.

  46. Rob says:

    Great qually from Nico, adds extra intrigue to the race today. I do think the tyres are going to make quite a difference today – the top ten are all starting on Softs that have done a few hard laps on what is a very green track – they could well burn then up quite quickly, and if Hulkenburg stays in front the top few guys will struggle to build up much of a gap before having to inevtiabley pit. This will bring some of the hard tyre runners into play, albeit not for a result, but to influence the race, i’m thinking Button, Rosberg and Kobyashi, if they can make the hard tyres last for a good chunk of the race they could really get in the mix.

  47. rolo.cz says:

    Viva Hulk

  48. DC Mann says:

    I do not wish to take anything away from the brilliance of Hulkenberg’s run, but I think a few points are being missed.

    The first is that Hulkenberg had nothing to lose. In fact he had the most to gain by driving at the aboslute limit possible. If he had binned his car in doing so he would not have lost much, nor would he have been pilloried for it.

    He should however be proud of the fact that of all the non-title contenders he was able and prepared to take the risks to deliver such a drive in those conditions.

    If Vettel, Webber, Alonso or Hamilton had binned their car they would have been absolutely crucified. They had it all to lose, so were therefore not inclined to take the risks that Hulkenberg was able to ignore.

    The Williams is by no way over 1 second faster that the RB6, (it has not been anyway close to it all season), so its obvious that Vettel and
    the other tiltle contenders were taking minimal risks in the circumstances.

    The other significant point to note here is Jenson Button’s performance. Of all the main contenders he was the one who should have been inclined to drive on the limit as Hulkenberg did, yet he did not even make Q3. I bet if Alonso or Hamilton had been in Jenson’s position i.e. 42 points off the leader, they would have absolutely rung the car on its hinges to get pole.

    It is noticeable that Hamilton states he was held up on his last lap and was a little disappointed with his performance, as he maybe realised he could have taken a few more risks.

    It will be interesting to see if Hulkenberg can build on this run in future. It should give him a lot of confidence going forward, but the performance itself should be judged
    in its proper context, i.e. the risks he was able to ignore the main contenders could not. They had to be more prudent.

  49. Jo Torrent says:

    About Jenson Attack by thieves
    ******************************

    James, it’s horrible the way Brazil major cities are so unsafe. Jenson misadventure put emphasis on it and it’s not the 1st time it happens as Toyota crew were victims of an attack years ago.

    I want to ask about how do you manage your safety you journalists and do you feel safe leaving for and from the track ?

    Bernie criticized Brazil recently and I don’t know if Formula1 sees it necessary to have a GrandPrix in south america but if not this one with his poor facilities added to the security issues won’t stay long enough.

    Another matter outside F1. We know Brazil is organizing the worldcup and the olympics. It’ll be a nightmare in security matters particularly for the latter competition. There are so many athletes in the olympics and the competition facilities are so much spread that it’ll be a nightmare. I’m not even discussing the spectators safety here.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well we don’t wear branded clothing, of course. I take the car park pass of the windscreen (the biggest giveaway) and hide my pass under my shirt. Lock the doors, that’s all you can do really.

  50. For Sure says:

    Now, I know exactly, why I watch F1 and enjoyed Schumacher best moments. I watch to see the quality, absolute quality and Nico did it in a fashion that we have been missing for along time.
    I jumped out of the sofa and went crazy after I saw what happened in qualifying session.
    I mean there are very few people who can make a bunch of multimillionaires look like they don’t know what they are doing and it’s a luxury to see that in F1.
    I mean we are talking about guys like Alonso, Vettle, Lewis who are easily the rain masters of their generation and Nico should be arrested for out-smarting and out-driving them in an inferior car which is sick haha.

  51. For Sure says:

    “Button said: “We were going back from the track and were outside a shanty town and moving slowly on a busy road.

    “I saw a dog come out, which was very cute. The next thing I saw was a man with a gun. I said ‘isn’t that a gun?’ and as soon as I said that, the driver angled the car and floored it.

    “That’s when we saw six men, all of them brandishing machine guns. My driver was a legend. He bounced off about five cars. We were driving over the top of them. It was very scary.”

    James, did that actually happened? Sounds like a James Bond movie…
    On a serious note, that is worrying.

    1. unoc says:

      ‘He bounced off about five cars.’

      Was the drive Vettel by any chance?

      Jokes aside, this reminds me of somewhere I read, that back around 50 years ago one of the first world champions was kidnapped, but released after befriending them or somesuch. Fangio I think it was, but could be wrong. It’s nice to know even those driving at 200mph inbetween concrete walls feel scared.

      1. Kedar says:

        It was the Cuban GP, when Fangio was kidnapped. Fangio supported the cause of the rebels and was in touch with his kidnappers till the day he died.
        I think this will be the problem in most of the developing world the gap between the haves and the havenots is huge, India where F1 is headed next is also similar where you have some of the 10 most richest people in the world and also people living in abject poverty.

      2. For Sure says:

        Haha yes may be it was Vettle.
        They would’ve been caught if Jense was driving.
        Or may be they were probably fans who saw his performance in qualifying
        LOL just joking

  52. Kedar says:

    Its amazing what a financial crisis in the team can do, Last time the Brawn team was in trouble they won both the world championships. Just now we learn that all the sponsors of the williams team have pulled out and Hulk sticks the car on pole!

  53. matthew cheshire says:

    If that’s true Webber should win if he can beat Vettel once. Otherwise Vettel should win tied on 256 with most victories . Alonso could snatch it then with a third place- but Brazil has already shown he’s by himself and his engines really are fragile.

    But we need a dozen topics covered by then-

    Massa has dissapeared?
    Alonso’s engine problem is real
    McLaren still flounder with upgrades- is the car flawed?
    What did Webber get from his outburst(s)?
    Button knows Hamilton is the better performer-what are his options?
    Has Hulkenburg revealed the contenders are all driving conservatively? If so, can Kubica, Schumacher or the rest of the middle order drivers shake things up?
    Is Williams back?
    Barrichello’s seat is under threat, he’s at home and his teammate has proven the car can compete. A massive dark horse?

    Use both sides of page if necessary!

  54. Lady Snowcat says:

    Well if he doesn’t get the Williams drive perhaps Ferrari will come for him, or Mercedes or McLaren….

    This one special moment has certainly redeemed F1 for me this year as I was very tired of the “Famous (and error strewn)Five” trading mistakes, sulks and generally giving us all the “same old, same old”…

    A bravura performance that gave him pole even before he did his final stunning lap (on a dry setting and the same tyres as all the others) making it the standout drive of the entire season….

    Well done Nico… good luck for today….

  55. Grabyrdy says:

    On a different note : tyres. You say James that the top teams wouldn’t have any new inters left today of they needed them. Very amusing. What exctly are they supposed to do if it’s inter weather for Prac 1, 2, 3, qualy and the race ?

  56. James says:

    James, why are no points awarded for pole position? When someone like Nico and Williams score a rare pole, a single point seems a just reward.
    Thanks.

  57. Carl Craven says:

    Wow some real Button hating on this thread.

    Just so you know, in the second half of the season last year, Rubens scored 13 points more than Button and beat him on about two or three occasions only.

    In today’s race, Button’s drive made Massa look a little bit ordinary, Massa who hit or nudged about 5 cars while attempting overtaking manouvers.

    1. Peter C says:

      You’re right, a great deal of Button-hating. It’s a shame that so many want to reduce everything to personalities, often without constructive things to say. “One eyed”

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