Shock pole position

Nico Hulkenberg gave his chances of retaining his race seat at Williams in 2011 a huge boost at slippery Interlagos on Saturday.

Not only did the German rookie sensationally capture his first pole position, two of his laps in Q3 were good enough for the top spot -- with the final margin over the two Red Bulls incredibly more than a full second.

"Nico was better than all of us today," said fellow front row sitter Sebastian Vettel, and Mark Webber agreed that Hulkenberg's performance "made the rest of us look average".

One explanation for the 23-year-old's pace could be his engineer's early decision to change from intermediate to slick tyres, but his teammate Rubens Barrichello made the call first and qualified just sixth.

And all the other leading contenders were all also using dry tyres at the end.

"He put the hammer down and did the job fantastically," said team co-owner Patrick Head on BBC television, adding that Williams' first pole since 2005 will give team "fresh impetus" to further improve.

And with pay-driver Pastor Maldonado knocking on the door for 2011, Hulkenberg told reporters after qualifying that he is now "confident we'll have a positive end to that story".

Juan Pablo Montoya secured Williams' last grand prix win at Interlagos in 2004.

Championship leader Fernando Alonso qualified fifth, behind Hulkenberg, the two Red Bulls and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

Mathematically, the Ferrari driver could secure his third championship on Sunday but the Spaniard insisted that is "not really on my mind".

"You can get some strange results, but we are concentrating on increasing the gap and if we give away points, making sure it is not too many," he said.

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 10 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:20.050 1:19.144 1:14.470 35
2 5 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:19.160 1:18.691 1:15.519 27
3 6 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:19.025 1:18.516 1:15.637 28
4 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.931 1:18.921 1:15.747 32
5 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:18.987 1:19.010 1:15.989 34
6 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:19.799 1:18.925 1:16.203 32
7 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1:19.249 1:18.877 1:16.552 31
8 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:19.879 1:18.923 1:16.925 30
9 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:19.778 1:19.200 1:17.101 31
10 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:20.189 1:19.153 1:17.656 33
11 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.905 1:19.288   25
12 23 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:19.741 1:19.385   26
13 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:20.153 1:19.486   23
14 17 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:20.158 1:19.581   24
15 16 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:20.096 1:19.847   24
16 22 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:20.174 1:19.899   26
17 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:20.592 1:20.357   23
18 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:20.830     13
19 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:22.130     13
20 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:22.250     14
21 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:22.378     14
22 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:22.810     13
23 20 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1:23.083     15
24 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:23.796     15

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2010 Brazilian Grand Prix QUALIFYING - RESULTS