Hello, this is Sidepodcast's F1 Advent Calendar 2010, and we are on Day 23. Just a few short episodes left in this series now, and we are racing towards the end of the season as well. Yesterday we talked about the inaugural Korean race, today we're moving on. Day 23 - Unexpected speed.
Just two races to go in the 2010 F1 season. Five drivers with a chance at the title and the ever popular Brazilian GP.
Last year in Brazil, qualifying took three hours to complete thanks to some serious rain conditions. With memories of the Korean GP's wet and delayed start, we were slightly concerned that this qualifying was again going to drag on for hours and hours. It did not and it even offered up the surprise of the year.
Saturday had seen some rain, but ahead of qualifying the track was drying out with no more rain expected. In the first session, Sutil was the guy who joined the new teams and dropped out of the session. It was a tough one for Force India, as Sutil was getting a five place grid drop as well.
Towards the end of Q2, the track was beginning to dry, and there were questions about whether it was time to change to intermediate tyres or not. Hamilton did and was easily through to the third session. Button was struggling, and a battle between him and Massa for the final places in the top ten saw Jenson out, finishing 11th.
The final ten minutes of qualifying saw such a dry track that after a quick banker lap on intermediate tyres, most drivers bolted on the slick tyres. Nico Hülkenberg put in a fast lap, which raised some eyebrows, but we were mostly concentrating on Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and Webber. There were tyre issues, and a few slips and slides around, and for a worrying moment it looked as though Schumacher was going to be able to slip into pole position. It wasn't Schumacher we should have kept an eye on though. Hülkenberg improved on his time for another P1 lap. Hamilton beat him slightly, whilst Webber could only manage P6. Then, Hülkenberg went even faster.
We were stunned.
The Williams driver had taken the team's first pole position since the middle of 2005, and not just scraped into the lead. He was an entire second faster than the rest of the field, with Vettel picking up second and Webber improving to third. A whole second!
These are the kind of moments that come along in F1 only occasionally, and are beautiful to watch. We knew it wasn't going to last come race day but for the rest of Saturday we all celebrated along with Hülkenberg - fan of Williams or not.
On Sunday, Vettel passed Hülkenberg on the first corner, and Webber was past him a few corners later. The dream was shortlived. Eventually Hülkenberg came home in 8th place, which meant a couple of points but must have been a little disappointing. We assumed this would be enough for Williams to sign him on the spot for next year - what kind of rookie driver can spring a surprise like this at the end of the year - one second faster than the fastest car on the grid? Post-season, though, Nico confirmed he wouldn't be at the team, and Williams have their line-up of Barrichello and new boy Pastor Maldonado. Hülkenberg remains without a race seat for now, but he says he's determined to be on the grid in 2011.
Back to Brazil though, and Vettel won the race, with Webber and Alonso joining him on the podium. Alonso retained his lead in the championship, with Webber closing up in second, and Vettel jumping Hamilton to sit in third place. The 1-2 finish was enough for Red Bull to take the constructor's title with one race still to go. There were celebrations in the garage, but there was still some hard work to be done.
That's all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2010. What are your thoughts on Hülkenberg's surprise pole position? Let us know in the comments on Sidepodcast.com. I will be back tomorrow with our penultimate advent episode so I hope you will join me then for Day 24.
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Filed under Mini Series
References Nico Hülkenberg, Pastor Maldonado
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