Nico Hulkenberg deserves the full credit for his shock pole position in the Brazilian Grand Prix, claims his team, after it was revealed his performance had nothing to do with a pure wet weather setup gamble.
The German ended a five-year pole position drought for his Williams team at Interlagos as he upstaged the championship contenders in a wet qualifying for the penultimate race of the season. Although it was initially suspected that the advantage that Hulkenberg enjoyed had been because he had opted for a wet-weather setup due to the conditions, his squad has made it clear that that was not the case.
Hulkenberg had opted for a fully dry weather setup and the pace he delivered was down to making the switch to slicks at the right time because of input from Rubens Barrichello, plus getting his tires into the perfect operating window by some aggressive driving.
Williams co-owner Patrick Head said: "Rubens was doing a lap on scrubbed inters and had a moment on one of the corners, so he didn't get a decent lap on scrubbed inters but said, 'The track is dry, I am coming in.'
"He was in putting dries in and Tom McCullough [Hulkenberg's race engineer] said, 'Is the track ready for dries?' and Nico said 'No, it was too wet for dries.' Tom then said, 'Well, Rubens is in the pits putting on dries,' to which Nico nipped straight into the pits and put on dries.
"If you look at the times and sector times you will see for Nico he had a hard out lap and was able to do three consecutive hard laps. I don't think Nico would claim yet that the combination of Nico and Williams is quicker than Sebastian Vettel and a Red Bull in the dry.
"What he was able to do was get his tires in the right temperature window better than anybody else and that was partly Nico's driving, toughness and determination, and partly the fact that he was able to do a hard out-lap and three consecutive hard laps.
"Rubens was out on his dries and was behind Lewis Hamilton and Lewis was droning around on dries but incredibly slowly, while the temps went down and down and down. Rubens was not able to find a way past him so his tires got very cold."
Barrichello backed up Head's views that Hulkenberg's form was down to the way he got his tires up to temperature.
"To be fairly honest, like I mentioned before, situations like this are there for you to grab them," explained the Brazilian. "I think he [Nico] grabbed it harder than anybody else.
"For me, if you look at him first and me sixth it is a bit of a disappointment, but in any case we are much better than what we could do if it was completely dry or completely wet.
"He was very good in keeping the temperatures on the tires. We could see it on the data, he was fantastic. He went out, he was nailing every lap and unfortunately I don't know what happened but Hamilton was very slow on the out-lap and then I had to create a gap to him.
"My temperatures went down and I knew I had to keep on fighting. But I got to Turn 4 and went straight on so my temperatures went right down. I was fighting the machine for all those laps but it was still a good lap with all we saw. From a 14.4 to a 16.2 is a different level of grip altogether."