Nico Hulkenberg upset the remaining F1 championship contenders by claiming Williams’ first pole position in five years ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.
The German, whose seat remains under threat for 2010, posted two laps better than anyone else could manage in the ten-minute shoot-out, after each of the contenders switched to slicks for their final assault on top spot.
Hulkenberg’s timing was best of all, first moving to provisional pole with enough time for a couple more flying laps where the rest of the field had just one.
In the end, however, he didn’t need the third effort, but used it to further lower the target time to 1min 14.470secs, opening out a gap of 1.1secs over countryman Sebastian Vettel.
The championship contenders were headed by the Red Bull drivers in second and third, after Fernando Alonso’s bid withered into fifth spot, behind McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. The inside line has a slight advantage at Interlagos, however, suggesting Webber and Alonso are not too badly off.
Rubens Barrichello put the second Williams into sixth place, ahead of Robert Kubica, Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa and Vitaly Petrov.