1990 Hungarian GP
"Forgive me Thierry, I was wrong," wrote AUTOSPORT's Nigel Roebuck. "I had my doubts you could ever win a race like this, from the front, in the dry, under pressure. In Hungary, though, you took pole, led from the start and - give or take a few hundred revs - made no mistakes."
Boutsen's great opportunity had come with a move to Williams in 1989 and he duly took two wet-weather wins. But at the Hungaroring the following season, the FW13B was strong in the dry.
Jean Alesi (Tyrrell) and Gerhard Berger's McLaren starred in qualifying initially, with times in the 1m18s, before Boutsen came out of nowhere to pip them with 1m17.919s.
"The car is a lot better here than it was at Hockenheim [the previous round]," said the Belgian at the time. "We made a big improvement with the chassis but also Renault has come up with some new things for the engine which has enabled us to have quite a bit more power for qualifying.
"The first time I drove out of the pits I could feel a big difference."
Team-mate Riccardo Patrese underlined the pace of the improving Williams-Renault combination by taking second. Even a late Ayrton Senna effort couldn't break the British squad's one-two.
"I can remember every second of that lap," recalls Boutsen now. "I knew the car wasn't so good on race tyres, but was very good on qualifiers.
"I started the lap slower than I could have done to keep the tyres fresh over the whole lap. I knew that was my chance to get pole. I took the first two corners easy and I think I was much faster than everyone in the final split.
"I knew I couldn't win the race if I didn't start from pole."
Boutsen duly made a decent getaway and withstood attacks from Berger, Alessandro Nannini and Senna to force that apology from our man on the ground.
1973 South African GP
Only one F1 world champion is on any of our 'One-Hit Wonder' lists and New Zealander Hulme is that man. The 1967 title winner scored eight wins and nine fastest laps in the world championship, but his 1973 effort at Kyalami was the only time he topped a qualifying session.
The event had even greater significance than that, though, for it was also the debut of one of F1's greatest designs: the McLaren M23.
"She's fast down the straight but really whips through the corners as well," Hulme said in South Africa and the M23 topped the speed traps in practice at 185.3mph.
Despite rumours of Ronnie Peterson's Lotus running a 1m16.1s lap, Hulme's 1m16.28s officially put him on pole, with McLaren new-boy Jody Scheckter third in the old M19C.
Hulme then comfortably led the race before debris from a multi-car accident punctured a tyre. He eventually came home fifth after suffering another deflation.
"A car with a future, a car to beat," reckoned Pete Lyons in his AUTOSPORT report...
1955 Belgian GP
Following the death of his team leader Alberto Ascari, Gianni Lancia gave up motorsport. But he did grant works driver Castellotti permission to race a D50 under his own name at the Belgian GP.
Incredibly for his first time at the old and fearsome 8.8-mile Spa, Castellotti went out for Friday afternoon practice and broke Juan Manuel Fangio's circuit record by
half a second. That proved enough for pole when rain arrived on Saturday.
Legendary journalist/racer Paul Frere described the effort as superhuman, perhaps incorporating the spirit of his late mentor Ascari, who had been laid to rest less than a week earlier.
Castellotti nevertheless believed the D50 was the key element. "I am not completely satisfied," he told Frere. "The Lancia is going marvellously enough to be slightly superior to the Mercedes. With his class and experience, Ascari would have been able to do much, much more."
Though he agrees Ascari was the greater driver, Stirling Moss thinks that's a tad harsh. "He was like a Peter Collins," he says. "He was very fast."
Nevertheless, Fangio and Moss quickly overcame Castellotti in the race and headed off to a Mercedes one-two in their W196s. Castellotti held third until the D50's gearbox broke, putting the Italian out, though decent results in Ferraris later in the year took him to third in the 1955 drivers' standings.
The D50 would go on to win the 1956 title, badged as a Ferrari, but Castellotti would never quite manage to win a GP before his death in a testing accident at Modena in 1957.
2010 Brazilian GP
Some ascribe Hulkenberg's sensational pole for unfancied Williams to good fortune and being the last man over the line in ever-improving conditions. Not so, for the German banged in two laps good enough for top spot.
Key to his success was a rapid out-lap, maintaining tyre temperature in a way his more cautious rivals couldn't match. Knowing he was facing the door at Williams, he
opted to go for broke.
On slicks and knowing it was treacherous if he put a wheel out of place, he laid it on the line. Several times he was on the verge of sliding off, particularly at the last corner, but he kept it together to take one of the most popular poles in F1 history.
It would be a surprise if it was his last.
1972 Canadian GP
Although perhaps not quite top drawer, American Peter Revson was a regular frontrunner in the 1970s. He won the 1971 Can-Am title, finished second in the Indy 500 the same year, and took two F1 wins in 1973 before losing his life in a testing crash early the following season.
Part of the family that owned the Revlon Cosmetics firm, Revson also managed an F1 pole - for McLaren at Mosport Park in 1972.
Early on Saturday, he and team-mate Denny Hulme went out on their soft-compound Goodyear rubber. Hulme managed 1m13.9s, but Revson stayed out and recorded 1m13.6s, the first official lap of the track at over 120mph.
"The M19s were obviously well suited to the circuit," wrote AUTOSPORT's Pete Lyons. "Their width combined with perhaps more wing angle than most helping them through the long swerves, and their suspensions set to give a distinctly smooth ride over the bumps."
Sticking throttles hampered both Revson and Hulme off the line, but they recovered to second and third respectively after battling drives behind a dominant Jackie Stewart.
1975 British GP
Welshman Pryce was really getting into his stride in 1975. He started the season with Shadow's old DN3B, while team-mate Jean-Pierre Jarier stunned F1 with a brace of poles with the new DN5A. Once he got his hands on the newer car, Pryce became a contender too.
He won the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch and then qualified on the front row at Monaco, second only to Niki Lauda's Ferrari.
He also broke the Silverstone lap record in testing and, come race weekend, Pryce continued his form, managing two laps good enough for pole.
"I was behind a couple of cars on those laps, so maybe I could shave off a tenth but it was pretty well the fastest I can go," Pryce told Pete Lyons in Autocourse.
Pryce got involved in a multi-car fight early in the race, then grabbed the lead, only to find a rain shower at Becketts and slide off.
Despite scoring a couple of podiums, Pryce would never again lead a world championship GP, and was killed in South Africa in 1977 when he drove into a marshal who had run across the track.
1980 United States GP
Alfa Romeo 179B
Giacomelli's 1980 season had been largely spoiled by unreliability, but he at least got to star at the Watkins Glen finale, taking pole and leading a points-paying GP for the first and last time. Until the Alfa broke again.
"After all the problems we had during the year, it all seemed to be coming good," says the 60-year-old today. "We'd had bad reliability, a car that was too soft for most of the circuits, and then we lost Patrick Depailler [in a testing crash]. We needed something to lift us up.
"Watkins Glen was a fantastic circuit with lots of long-radius, fast corners and lots of ups and downs. Because our car was so soft but had immense ground effect, it suited the circuit.
"Plus we'd found some solutions to the problems we'd been having and they totally transformed the car. The engine, in particular, was so useable; the power delivery was far less aggressive than it had been.
"From the first lap I could make the car do whatever I wanted. It was fast on the straights, handled neutrally in every corner and had fantastic traction and braking."
It all added up to give the Italian an advantage of three-quarters of a second in qualifying.
"It was the best car I ever drove in F1; so fast through the long corners that I managed to wear out a set of qualifying tyres in less than a lap, so I had to qualify on race tyres," he adds. "And I was still able to take the last corner in fourth gear on my pole lap. The rest were doing it in third!
"That day was a dream."
1974 Swedish GP
Four teams and five drivers had won races before the unpredictable 1974 season arrived at Anderstorp for round seven. And the trend continued as Tyrrell led the way.
Jody Scheckter generally had the upper hand over team-mate Depailler, but on this occasion the Frenchman proved quicker in practice.
Scheckter was faster initially, from Niki Lauda, but it was Depailler who broke the 1m25s barrier. And he wanted another go.
"There was the most amazing sight of him forcing the chisel nose of the car almost into Ken Tyrrell's ankles, creeping and creeping, obviously nearly beside himself with the desire that this obstacle would vanish like smoke," wrote AUTOSPORT's Pete Lyons.
The team boss won that fight, but Depailler's earlier time was easily enough, being 0.3s better than his team-mate and 0.4s ahead of Lauda.
Too much wheelspin hurt Depailler's start and that decided the race. The challenges of Ronnie Peterson and the Ferraris hit reliability problems and the rapid Hesketh of James Hunt lost too much time behind Lauda.
Although Depailler closed on Scheckter and set fastest lap, one of four in his F1 career, he had to stay put.
"The strategy was that the start had determined the outcome," added Lyons. "Although Patrick was pressing right up the back of Jody he was instructed firmly to 'STAY' in his place."
Neither Tyrrell would qualify in the top two for the rest of the season, but Scheckter would finish third in the standings. Depailler went on to take a win apiece for Tyrrell and Ligier before losing his life in an Alfa Romeo testing accident at Hockenheim in 1980.
POLE SKEWED BY RULE CHANGES
With the current F1 qualifying system being relatively popular, it's easy to forget how the sport tried various methods during the noughties. Qualifying with race fuel was one, and three of our one-hit wonders took their poles during the period when varying fuel loads masked people's true pace.
Nick Heidfeld's pole at the 2005 European GP, for example, was largely down to his Williams carrying less fuel than Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren and team-mate Mark Webber, both quicker on fuel-corrected times.
Heidfeld's 2008 team-mate Robert Kubica also owed his only top qualifying slot to carrying less fuel. His BMW Sauber was around 11kg lighter than Felipe Massa's Ferrari in Bahrain qualifying that year and lapped just 0.027s quicker.
Heikki Kovalainen's top spot at Silverstone the same year wasn't thanks to fuel load, but he was helped by a couple of mistakes by team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who turned the tables come raceday.
THE COMPLETE LIST
Excluding the 11 Indy 500s that counted for world championship points, just 20 drivers have scored a single pole...
Eugenio Castellotti Lancia D50
1955 Belgian GP (Spa)
Margin: 0.5s over Juan Manuel Fangio (Mercedes W196)
Jo Bonnier © LAT
Jo Bonnier BRM P25
1959 Dutch GP (Zandvoort)
Margin: 0.0s over Jack Brabham (Cooper T51)
Wolfgang von Trips Ferrari 156
1961 Italian GP (Monza)
Margin: 0.1s over Ricardo Rodriguez (Ferrari 156)
Lorenzo Bandini Ferrari 312
1966 French GP (Reims)
Margin: 0.6s over John Surtees (Cooper T81)
Mike Parkes Ferrari 312
1966 Italian GP (Monza)
Margin: 0.3s over Ludovico Scarfiotti (Ferrari 312)
Peter Revson McLaren M19C
1972 Canadian GP (Mosport Park)
Margin: 0.3s over Denny Hulme (McLaren M19C)
Denny Hulme McLaren M23
1973 South African GP (Kyalami)
Margin: 0.13s over Emerson Fittipaldi (Lotus 72D)
Patrick Depailler Tyrrell 007
1974 Swedish GP (Anderstorp)
Margin: 0.318s over Jody Scheckter (Tyrrell 007)
Carlos Pace © LAT
Carlos Pace Brabham BT44B
1975 South African GP (Kyalami)
Margin: 0.07s over Carlos Reutemann (Brabham BT44B)
Vittorio Brambilla March 751
1975 Swedish GP (Anderstorp)
Margin: 0.380s over Patrick Depailler (Tyrrell 007)
Tom Pryce Shadow DN5A
1975 British GP (Silverstone)
Margin: 0.14s over Carlos Pace (Brabham BT44B)
Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo 179B
1980 United States GP (Watkins Glen)
Margin: 0.789s over Nelson Piquet (Brabham BT49)
Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo 182
1982 Long Beach GP
Margin: 0.120s over Niki Lauda (McLaren MP4/1B)
Thierry Boutsen Williams FW13B
1990 Hungarian GP (Hungaroring)
Margin: 0.036s over Riccardo Patrese (Williams FW13B)
Nick Heidfeld Williams FW27
2005 European GP (Nurburgring)
Margin: 0.116s over Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren MP4/20)
Robert Kubica BMW Sauber F1.08
2008 Bahrain GP (Sakhir)
Margin: 0.027s over Felipe Massa (Ferrari F2008)
Heikki Kovalainen © LAT
Heikki Kovalainen McLaren MP4-23
2008 British GP (Silverstone)
Margin: 0.505s over Mark Webber (Red Bull RB4)
Nico Hulkenberg Williams FW32
2010 Brazilian GP (Interlagos)
Margin: 1.049s over Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB6)
Nico Rosberg Mercedes F1 W03
2012 Chinese GP (Shanghai)
Margin: 0.505s over Lewis Hamilton (McLaren MP4/27)
Pastor Maldonado Williams FW34
2012 Spanish GP (Barcelona)
Margin: 0.017s over Fernando Alonso (Ferrari F2012)
To continue reading this feature, subscribe to Autosport Plus today.
Are you an Autosport magazine subscriber? Activate your online account
- Your Autosport Plus subscription includes:
- Unlimited access to Autosport's news - no monthly cap.
- Read the best motorsport features, analysis and opinion.
- Explore Forix, our comprehensive motorsport stats database.
- Choose from a monthly or yearly membership.