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Qualifying analysis - Hulkenberg ahead, but for how long? 06 Nov 2010

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Williams FW32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, 5 November 2010 Fans. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 6 November 2010 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 6 November 2010 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Renault. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 6 November 2010 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Lotus T127.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 6 November 2010

Everyone expected the fight for pole position at Interlagos to be dominated by this season’s five title contenders. Instead it was the strategic nous of Williams and the cool head of the team’s rookie driver Nico Hulkenberg that eventually triumphed, with the young German taking his maiden pole position. However, with a championship at stake and a dry race expected, Hulkenberg will have his work cut out to stay in front on Sunday. We take a team-by-team look at qualifying…

Williams
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 14.470s, P1
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 16.203s, P6

Hulkenberg had trouble taking in the magnitude of his achievement - clinching Williams’ first pole position since Nurburgring 2005 and the first for a Williams-Cosworth since Rio in 1983, courtesy of Nick Heidfeld and Keke Rosberg respectively - by more than a second from the men fighting over the 2010 world championship. He and the team had the FW32 working well all weekend, and he used his tyres with great confidence to lay down a marker by getting the job done. Barrichello was desperately disappointed to be so completely overshadowed on his home ground.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 15.519s, P2
Mark Webber, 1m 15.637s, P3

Like everyone else the Red Bull drivers were surprised to see Hulkenberg’s domination, but you sensed both were very happy with their ability to deal with him on a dry track come the race. Both raised their caps to the young German, and doubtless hope that once they have overtaken him he will provide some tough opposition for Hamilton and Alonso.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 15.747s, P4
Jenson Button, 1m 19.288s, P11

Hamilton was reasonably happy even though he doesn’t like starting from fourth place here, but said that somebody backing up in the final run to the finish line slightly compromised his best lap. He said his MP4-25 wasn’t brilliant in the wet, but felt pretty good in the dry so is optimistic for the race. Button had another torrid time, troubled by poor balance and front wheel locking. He did, however, think his car was better in qualifying than it had been all through practice. In the end, he damaged his intermediates before making his final run in Q2, and got bumped by Massa.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 15.989s, P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 17.101s, P9

Alonso was philosophical about his failure to do as good a job as Hulkenberg in making his tyres work in the tricky final conditions in Q3, and said that starting fifth is hardly the end of the world. Massa said his F10 felt okay on intermediates but that with slicks on the damp track he experienced yet again his personal problem generating sufficient heat in the rubber to get the best from it.

Renault
Robert Kubica, 1m 16.552s, P7
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 17.656s, P10

Kubica made a mistake! Yes, that was how tricky conditions were in Q3. He was happy with the switch to slicks, but said he was happy simply to finish his best lap because the R30 was such a handful in the changing conditions. Petrov kept it all together in his rebuilt car, and impressed on his way to a ‘safe’ 10th place.

Mercedes GP
Michael Schumacher, 1m 16.925s, P8
Nico Rosberg, 1m 19.486s, P13

Schumacher was second fastest to Hamilton after the first runs in Q3, on intermediate tyres, but he said that making way for the Red Bull drivers in the final runs took the edge out of his slicks’ temperatures and prevented him from making the best use of them thereafter. A pity, as this was the first time all season he had really looked like his old self. Rosberg was not happy and said he was blocked by Buemi on his best lap in Q2.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 19.385s, P12
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 19.899s, P16, will start P15

Kobayashi believed he was very close to making Q3, but admitted that he knew by his last lap that his tyres were past their peak. Heidfeld was angry with the timing of his tyre change in Q2, believing it came two laps too soon so that his rubber was past its best when track conditions were at theirs.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari 1m 19.581s, P14
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 19.847s, P15, will start P19

Alguersuari thought he got pretty close to his Toro Rosso’s maximum in Q2 in the tricky conditions, but Buemi, who had been very quick at times in the morning practice, said he was disappointed with how things worked out for him. After qualifying 15th, he will drop to 19th because of the grid penalty he earned in Korea.

Force India
Vitantonio Liuzzi, 1m 20.357s, P17, will start P16
Adrian Sutil, 1m 20.830s, P18, will start P22

Liuzzi was bemused that the morning’s fine balance had turned to lack of grip in the afternoon, and that a brake issue had also arisen, particularly in the second sector when the VJM03 was sliding all over the place. But at least he made it through to Q2, whereas Sutil struggled and by his own admission had a messy Q1. The German will start from 23rd once his five-place grid penalty from Korea is applied.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 22.130s, P19, will start P17
Lucas di Grassi, 1m 22.810s, P22, will start P21

Glock was happy with his first run in Q1 but switched to a third set of tyres on his second after a problem with the replacements, and was only able to do one timed lap on them and didn’t get them fully up to temperature. Nevertheless, he remained the fastest new team runner, ahead of the Lotuses. Di Grassi thought he wasn’t on track when conditions were at their best, and thus felt that he had more to offer.

Lotus
Jarno Trulli, 1m 22.250s, P20, will start P18
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 22.378s, P21, will start P20

Neither Trulli nor Kovalainen felt they got the best out of their Lotus T127s, mainly because of traffic. But they expect to be strong if the race is dry.

HRT
Christian Klien, 1m 23.083s, P23
Bruno Senna, 1m 23.796s, P24

Klien was reasonably happy with his first experience of the F110 on a wet track, but Senna felt a tyre change towards the end of Q1 could have made a difference to his lap time.

David Tremayne

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