S o it hasn't had a lead in the long term Formula 1 given. The sensational fastest in training, Nico Hülkenberg, left Sebastian Vettel by 1.049 seconds. This is a world. Teammate Rubens Barrichello was 1.733 seconds slower. And the Brazilian is an Interlagos specialist. The panel of experts in the paddock asked themselves: Did everything go right?
It worked. The losers initially speculated that Williams would have gambled with a rain setup, but technology guru Patrick Head disagreed: 'Our cars are set up for a dry race.' The top speeds prove it. Hülkenberg and Barrichello were in the top ten on the home straight, only two km /h slower than front runner Robert Kubica.
Barrichello announces switch to slicks
Nico Hülkenberg has a secret three fathers. Barrichello, the warm-up lap and his trick on the last corner. Rubens Barrichello provided the initial spark for Hülkenberg's switch from intermediates to slicks. The Formula 1 oldie is an old tire fox who has often had the right nose for the ideal time to switch to slicks. 'Rubens was out with used intermediates and almost spun. Nevertheless, he says on the radio that the track can handle slicks,' says Patrick Head.
Hülkenberg's race engineer Tom McCollough is listening attentively. At the same time, his husband reports on the radio: 'It's still too wet for slicks.' Which McCollough flashes back to. 'Nico watch out, Rubens is about to pick up dry tires.' Patrick Head is amused: 'We couldn't look that fast, Nico was already there. He knows that Rubens has a good hand there.'
Hülkenberg keeps rubbers up to temperature
From then on, the Pole man from Interlagos did everything right. 'My race engineer told me to push so that the slicks got up to temperature. I drove like crazy, stood sideways, let the rear wheels spin, braked hard and late. The tires were there from the first lap. '
Hülkenberg's warm-up lap was 14 seconds faster than that of his team-mate Barrichello. He complained: 'I wanted to drive faster, but Hamilton dawdled around in front of me. Tire temperature was the key today. I never really got into the window, and once I was in, I flew out again. Hats off to Nico that he did it so well. '
Three faultless laps
When Hülkenberg was once in motion, he put three faultless laps on the asphalt. Not once next to the piste, not once through puddles of water, not once braking to make room for the person in front. 'That is incredibly important to keep the temperature in the tire. Something was constant with me, I never really got into my rhythm,' complained Vettel. Barrichello confirms the importance of tire temperature in semi-wet conditions with slicks. 'Five degrees make a huge difference. For me it was clearly more than that compared to Nico.'
At the very end, the sensation man from Saturday unpacked another trick. He was the only one who drove significantly faster with slicks in the last sector than before with the intermediates. 'It was wetter there than on the other parts of the track. The last corner in particular was difficult,' said Hulkenberg. But that's exactly where the speed for the miserably long home straight was determined. The Rhinelander came out of the curve worlds faster than the rest. 'I braked 15 meters earlier, concentrated on not hitting any wet spots, hit the gas very early and had a great pull into the straight.'
Hulkenberg can't believe his eyes
Then he grins all over his face as he recapitulates the last few meters of the lap of his life: 'I saw the exit of the target curve on my display that I was seven tenths below the best time. I could hardly believe it. Then I just stared at this display on the whole straight to the finish line. From minus 7 to minus 8, minus 9, then minus one second , and I think: It doesn't exist. '
Even if Patrick Head doesn't want to come out with the truth, the fact is that the Williams FW32 is a car that takes tires hard and accordingly brings it up to temperature quickly. 'Remember Suzuka, the first knockout lap. The track was still green after all the rain, and we were immediately quick. We were only two tenths short of the Red Bull,' said Hülkenberg looking back. What is an advantage in training can be a disadvantage in a race. 'We sometimes have problems with wear and tear,' the blond boy frowns.
Hülkenberg hopes for a good start
The Hülkenberg show may continue in the first few laps , although the Williams produce more bad than good starts on average. The German has taken precautions: 'In terms of the gear ratio, I took a different path than Rubens. That gives me advantages at the start and traction, but small disadvantages in terms of lap time. I'll win the start and try to stay up there as long as possible stay.