Right, hands up who had Nico Hulkenberg as their pick for pole. By a second.
Today’s qualifying was one of the best of the season, with a flurry of laps late in the session keeping us guessing what the order would be until the final seconds. Here’s how it happened.
Despite the damp track there were no real surprises in Q1. Slowest were the two Hispanias, with Bruno Senna out-qualified by Christian Klien again – not what the Brazilian wanted at his first home Grand Prix. Ahead of them were Lucas di Grassi, Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock. Well done to Virgin for winning the battle of the new teams, beating the team we currently call Lotus but probably won’t next year. Confusing times for Tony Fernandes’ squad.
The final driver eliminated was Adrian Sutil. The German couldn’t better 18th, and with a five-place grid penalty following his manic performance in Korea the Force India driver will start on the back row of the grid.
Q2 provided some proper drama. The track dried throughout – though not enough for slicks – meaning the final few laps were something of a lottery. The man without a winning ticket was Jenson Button, the McLaren driver pipped late on and ending up 11th quickest. His world championship hopes are pretty much over.
Also eliminated were Kobayashi, Rosberg and Alguersuari – they’ll fill positions 12 through 14 on the grid. Buemi was 15th quickest but takes a five-place grid drop for his torpedoing of Glock in Korea, with Heidfeld 16th and Liuzzi 17th.
And on to the brilliant final session. The times tumbled throughout and we were treated to the biggest qualifying shock of 2010: Nico Hulkenberg sealed Williams’ first pole position since the European Grand Prix of 2005.
The young German was quick throughout the ten-minute shootout and, having already secured pole, went nearly a second quicker than his best on the final lap of the day. The team got on the dry tires early and Nico was simply mega. Is that enough to secure his race seat for 2011? You’d hope so.
But with Hulkenberg unlikely to challenge for the win tomorrow the crucial factor is the order of the drivers behind him. Sebastian Vettel sealed second ahead of team-mate Mark Webber, with Lewis Hamilton fourth and Fernando Alonso fifth. The tension is unbearable.
It’s shaping up to be a fantastic Grand Prix with a surprise polesitter and the four main title protagonists right behind him. Whether you’ll be attending Badger’s Brazilian GP Bash at the Sports Cafe in London or watching at home it looks like you’ll be in for a treat tomorrow afternoon.