Formula One: Nico Hulkenberg Steps Out of the Shadows with Pole in Brazil
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It's official...and very surprising. Nico Hulkenberg is on pole position for the 2010 Brazillian Grand Prix.
And this is not just a title contender making a mistake—Vettel, in the Red Bull car, was over one second behind the Hulk.
One second: That's like a year in qualifying.
He has not even secured a place on the team next season; there are rumours swirling around about him being replaced by someone else with more money.
However, I think the majority of fans will want the young German to be at the top level of motorsport next season.
If we look at his results at other levels, he dominated the German Formula BMW Championship in 2005—also the year Williams got their last pole position in Formula One—and he became the most successful driver in A1 Grand Prix history for Team Germany.
Following a season in German Formula Three where he finished fifth, he joined the Formula Three Euroseries in 2007 and finished third, and won the Masters of Formula Three event that year.
In 2008, he came first in the Formula Three Euroseries and second in the Masters of Formula Three event.
In the 2008-09 GP2 Asia series, he finished sixth with one win, before winning the 2009 GP2 Series, once again with ART Grand Prix.
This left him with a drive in Formula One for 2010. In the first two races of the season, he was worse than teammate Barrichello, finishing 14th in Bahrain and retiring in Australia, though this was because he was hit by Kamui Kobayashi.
Malaysia saw him score his first points in F1, finishing in 10th place. He then had a run of finishing outside the points for six races before finishing 10th once again in Great Britain.
As the team's results improved, Hulkenberg also benefited, with a sixth place finish in Hungary.
After the Belgian Grand Prix where he finished 14th, he reached seventh place in Italy and 10th place in Singapore.
Vitaly Petrov, another high profile rookie, crashed into Hulkenberg before he even reached the first corner.
In Korea, he finished in 10th after overhauling Alguersuari in the final laps of the race.
And now he's got pole position after controlling the car on the wet track in Brazil, while more experienced drivers slid wide on the dry weather tyres.
He may have gained only 18 of Williams' 65 points this season—and he is behind fellow rookies Petrov and Kobayashi in the drivers championship—but he has impressed in qualifying sessions and races this season.
He might not win tomorrow, with the Red Bull drivers behind him on the grid, but he has definitely reminded us that he is in Formula One, and he is doing rather well.
From that, signing a F1 contract for next season might just come a little easier than it has in the past.
And who knows where his career could go from there.
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