Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
Incredible Hulk on pole by a second for Brazilian Grand Prix
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

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

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.


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”


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.



Good point.


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 ?


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….

matthew cheshire

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!


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!


“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.


‘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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Viva Hulk


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.


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?


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.


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


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


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


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


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.

michael grievson

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


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.


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.


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


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.


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? 🙂


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


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


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?


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

Top Tags