OK... Didn't See That One Coming!
Coming to Brazil, hosting the penultimate round of the 2010 F1 Championship everyone’s attention was focused on the title contenders – Alonso, Webber, Vettel and Hamilton. Everyone thought it would be one of them that would claim Pole Position. We were looking at another Red Bull demonstration run to lock out of the front row, given the pace they displayed in Practice, or maybe even Alonso who is riding high on his impressive late season form.
Even with the wet weather thrown into the mix adding a bit of spice to the qualifying session, I might have even considered one of the homeboys Massa or Rubens giving us a strong show. But nowhere did I even think; whilst I was at work on a Saturday missing the session (anger), that Nico Hulkenberg would claim the covered No 1 spot on the grid.
I really didn’t see that one coming!
Surprise of Qualifying
Well I think the clue is in the title Tim, my surprise of quali has to go to Nico ‘The Hulk’ Hulkenberg for a sensational qualifying performance. There is simply no other word for it! He was in a class of 1 - himself. While all the other championship contenders and top drivers were slipping, sliding, falling off the track and generally making an ass of themselves. Hulkenberg drove a stunning session and just put in some amazing lap times to get the job done.
He was fast in all the qualifying sessions, his second flying lap in Q3 was fast enough for Pole position and wasn’t beaten by any of the other drivers. He didn’t need to go again, yet he did do another lap and blew the competition away by over a second! It was incredible to watch (admittedly on the iPlayer!), the others just couldn’t match him.
It marks Williams' first pole position since 2005, when Nick Heidfeld then took P1 at the European Grand Prix, and it is well deserved. The team has been making steady steps forward all season and this is showing really positive signs for a good finish to 2010 and even better prospects for 2011. At the very least Nico (not just on the basis of this performance, but all season) has shown that he has the quality to remain in F1. Ok he’s made a few mistakes, but he’s a rookie, that’s to be expected, which is why this Pole Position is all the more special.
Disappointment of Qualifying
On to the disappointments of qualifying and I find myself torn between two this time.
My first disappointment has to be Jenson Button. He came into this weekend knowing that he had realistically no chance of retaining his title, but admitted himself that the pressure was off. So that meant we could expect fireworks and some great exciting driving, Jenson back to his best Yes!… No, putting his car 11th on the grid just isn’t good enough. He has struggled massively in the latter part of this season and has just not seemed to be able to get a grip of this McLaren as well as teammate Hamilton has. He is being well and truly out classed and needs to do better.
My second disappointment is Nico Rosberg. All season he has shown that he has been the top dog at Mercedes and he has been putting Michael Schumacher well into the shade. Yet here in Brazil, Schumacher trounced Rosberg by over half a second in Q2 allowing him to get into Q3, whilst Nico was lumbered in a dismal 13th. I may be being a little hard on Rosberg here, but like Button, I have just come to expect a little bit more from him and this just isn’t it.
Prediction for the Race
After the events of recent races, I have to admit I don’t have a clue who will come out on top in Brazil. You would have to favour Red Bull, given their starting position and pace, but after the result in Korea that is not a certainty. The weather is most likely going to play a big part in the race and that could so easily flip things on their heads.
Not to show my colours too much, but I would like to see Mark Webber come out on top. At least that way it would take the championship down to the last race in Abu Dhabi.
However, my sneaky suspicion for the race tomorrow is Schumacher. He has looked solid and has been fast all weekend. He’s coming off the back of his best result since he returned, a 4th place in Korea. I think he could have a good race and I can see him repeating that result this weekend.
Stranger things have happened in F1 and people will remember that Williams last victory in F1 was here in Brazil back in 2004 with Montoya. Could Hulkenberg do a Vettel and sensationally steal a victory in his rookie season? Some how I doubt it but let's wait and see if I can be dumbfounded twice in the space of 24 hours.
|2||S Vettel||Red Bull||1:15.519|
|3||M Webber||Red Bull||1:15.637|
|12||K Kobayashi||BMW Sauber||1:19.385|
|14||J Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||1:19.581|
|15||S Buemi||Toro Rosso||1:19.847|
|16||N Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||1:19.899|
|17||V Liuzzi||Force India||1:20.357|
|18||A Sutil||Force India||1:20.830|
|22||L Di Grassi||Virgin||1:22.810|
|1||M Webber||Red Bull||1:32:23.081|
|2||R Kubica||BMW Sauber||+7.6 secs|
|3||L Hamilton||McLaren||+18.9 secs|
|4||S Vettel||Red Bull||+19.6 secs|
|6||K Raikkonen||Ferrari||+33.3 secs|
|7||S Buemi||Toro Rosso||+35.9 secs|
|8||R Barrichello||Brawn||+45.4 secs|
|9||K Kobayashi||Toyota||+63.3 secs|
|10||G Fisichella||Ferrari||+70.6 secs|
|11||V Liuzzi||Force India||+71.3 secs|
|12||H Kovalainen||McLaren||+73.4 secs|
|13||R Grosjean||Renault||+1 Lap|
|14||J Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||+1 Lap|
|DNF||K Nakajima||Williams||+41 Laps|
|DNF||N Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||+50 Laps|
|DNF||N Rosberg||Williams||+44 Laps|
|DNF||A Sutil||Force India||+71 Laps|
|DNF||J Trulli||Toyota||+71 Laps|
|DNF||F Alonso||Renault||+71 Laps|
|2||F Alonso||Renault||+13.2 secs|
|3||K Raikkonen||Ferrari||+16.2 secs|
|4||S Vettel||Toro Rosso||+38.0 secs|
|5||L Hamilton||McLaren||+38.9 secs|
|6||T Glock||Toyota||+44.3 secs|
|7||H Kovalainen||McLaren||+55.0 secs|
|8||J Trulli||Toyota||+68.4 secs|
|9||M Webber||Red Bull||+79.6 secs|
|10||N Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||+1 Lap|
|11||R Kubica||BMW Sauber||+1 Lap|
|12||N Rosberg||Williams||+1 Lap|
|13||J Button||Honda||+1 Lap|
|14||S Bourdais||Toro Rosso||+1 Lap|
|15||R Barrichello||Honda||+1 Lap|
|16||A Sutil||Force India||+2 Laps|
|17||K Nakajima||Williams||+2 Laps|
|18||G Fisichella||Force India||+2 Laps|
|DNF||N Piquet Jnr||Renault||+71 Laps|
|DNF||D Coulthard||Red Bull||+71 Laps|