Stroll takes first ever pole position in dramatic qualifying session

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll scored his first ever pole position by beating Max Verstappen to take a shock maiden pole in a wet and dramatic qualifying session for Formula 1’s 2020 Turkish Grand Prix.

The session was heavily disrupted, with Q1 suspended for nearly 45-minutes after the rain intensified following the opening ten minutes, and when it did get going again it was quickly red-flagged for a second time when Romain Grosjean became stuck in the Turn 1 gravel after spinning off in his Haas.

Verstappen largely led the way throughout the qualifying session, with Esteban Ocon spending the long Q1 delay at the head of the times after impressing during the initial running, be he appeared to be caught out by a Q3 switch from wets to intermediates.

The Red Bull Racing driver’s first Q3 lap was a one minute, 52.326 seconds, which was over two seconds slower than Verstappen had gone to top Q2, but he looked to be going massively faster with two opening purple sectors on his next lap.

But Verstappen abandoned that run after Sergio Perez had shot to P1 with a one minute, 52.037 seconds using the green-walled inters, and so Verstappen came in to take that tyre.

But he although Verstappen found time at the very end of Q3, he was not in command as he had been before, with Perez and Racing Point suddenly looking to be the pole favourites.

But Perez, who had spun on his next lap after seizing P1, was eventually shuffled down to third after Stroll, who had headed out on the wets early on in Q3 in a different approach to his teammate, put in a one minute, 47.765 seconds to rise to the front.

Verstappen had to find a way past Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo before he final run, where he climbed from third to second, but wound up 0.29 seconds behind Stroll.

Alex Albon took fourth for Red Bull ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who stayed on the wet tyres throughout Q3.

Lewis Hamilton was the lead Mercedes in sixth, having trailed behind teammate Valtteri Bottas throughout the sessions leading up to Q3 and during their initial laps on the wets in the last session.

But after Mercedes called its drivers to take the inters, Hamilton was able to improve more, as Bottas set a personal best on his final run but still ended up down in ninth.

Ocon and Raikkonen ended up ahead of the Mercedes, with Antonio Giovinazzi rounding out the top ten.

Q2 ran uninterrupted throughout, with the drivers finding chunks of time with each lap they set.

Verstappen led the way, nearly two seconds clear of anyone else, while the Alfa Romeo cars reached Q3 for the first time in 2020.

All of the eliminated runners set personal bests on their final laps, but they could not improve by enough, headed by Lando Norris in P11.

Norris and teammate Carlos Sainz had run with the inters at the start of Q2, but came in for wets ahead of their final runs.

This took them inside the two-minute mark, but they were still big chunk behind the top 10 cutoff, as Norris finished nearly 0.7 seconds slower than Ricciardo.

Sebastian Vettel split the McLarens in P12, with Charles Leclerc also out in Q2 in P14, despite his strong pace in the dry practice sessions on Friday, and his P2 in FP3.

Pierre Gasly was knocked out in P15 despite a late visit to the AlphaTauri pits to take fresh wets, while Sainz faces a post-qualifying investigation after possibly impeding Perez during one run in Q2.

In Q1, Kevin Magnussen was eliminated in P16 as he was caught behind several incidents following the second red flag, one of which was Daniil Kvyat spinning at Turn 3, which cost him the chance to escape the opening segment as he complained about poor visibility.

Kvyat therefore ended up out in P17, ahead of George Russell, who also lost time running behind the incidents after the second restart – the second of which was Nicholas Latifi spinning off exiting the middle apex of Turn 8 and beaching his Williams in the gravel on the outside.

Russell will start last after his replacement power unit parts will drop him to the rear of field, which will boost Grosjean and Latifi a spot each from P19 and P20.

Verstappen and Albon headed Q1 with the only times under two minutes – as they lapped at the head of the field after the second restart, ahead of the two incidents taking place in their wake.

All laps completed by drivers passing the yellows flying for Kvyat’s spin and Latifi’s beached Williams will be investigated after the session, which could yet change the order for the grid.

The was also a strange incident at the start of Q2, where the session was allowed to get underway despite Latifi’s Williams still being craned away.

So such an exciting and dramatic qualifying session. Congratulations to Lance Stroll in scoring his first pole position in Formula 1 and to Racing Point with a top three thanks to Sergio Perez. As for Max Verstappen, he was unlucky to miss out on P1 but his speed was really impressive following the practice sessions and the two segments in qualifying.

Turkish Grand Prix qualifying positions:
1 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:47.765
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:48.055
3 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:49.321
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:50.448
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:51.595
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:52.560
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:52.622
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:52.745
9 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:53.258
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:57.226
11 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:54.945
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:55.169
13 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:55.410
14 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:56.696
15 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:58.556
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 2:08.007
17 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 2:09.070
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 2:12.909
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 2:21.611
20 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 2:10.017

6 thoughts to “Stroll takes first ever pole position in dramatic qualifying session”

  1. Turkish Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Lance Stroll produced the best lap of his career in wet and extremely challenging conditions to take a shock pole position for Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix, fending of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen as world champions Mercedes struggled…

    A resurfaced Istanbul Park was proving tricky in dry conditions, and the challenge became even harder when the rain fell ahead of and during qualifying, with drivers struggling to find grip and keep the car pointing in the right direction.

    Racing Point didn’t look too competitive in final practice and even as they moved through the first two segments of qualifying, they looked reasonable without being stellar, but when they bolted on intermediates in Q3, the cars came alive.

    Sergio Perez was the first man to set the time sheets on fire with a blistering lap on the intermediate tyres, that comfortably put him top. That inspired Red Bull to ask Verstappen to abort his lap on wets, even though the first two sectors were quickest of all, in favour of changing his full wets for intermediate tyres.

    Stroll headed in too and took the intermediates and after warming up the tyres, he pulled out an incredible lap to take the first pole position of his career, becoming the first Canadian to take P1 since Jacques Villeneuve in the 1997 European Grand Prix.

    Verstappen was struggling to get temperature into the intermediates as well as running close to Kimi Raikkonen, which hampered his lap time. And though he managed to improve on his final lap, he could only slot into second.

    Perez dropped down to third, as he failed to improve at the death, with Alex Albon equalling his best-career start with a strong fourth to ease the pressure. Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo slotted into fifth for the second consecutive race, ahead of championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

    Mercedes struggled throughout in the wet conditions, and never really looked like they were a threat for pole position. Hamilton’s sixth was his worst qualifying performance since Germany 2018 with team mate Valtteri Bottas ninth.

    Esteban Ocon was seventh, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who gave Alfa Romeo their best qualifying performance since Brazil 2019, with team mate Antonio Giovinazzi 10th to make it two Alfa Romeos in Q3 on the occasion of Sauber’s 500th Grand Prix.

    Q1 – Verstappen conquers tricky conditions, as Grosjean is caught out

    Overnight rain returned during final practice and then lingered through to qualifying, which meant intermediates and wet rubber were the compounds of choice as the cars headed out for the one-hour shoot-out.

    Conditions were treacherous, the slippery track surface made even trickier because of the persistent rain, with drivers really fighting the wheel just to keep the car inside the white lines and pointing the right way.

    Esteban Ocon set the early pace in the Renault, with seven seconds separating the entire field, but several drivers suffered spins, including the AlphaTauri duo of Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat, as the rain intensified.

    With seven minutes to go, and conditions worsening, FIA F1 Race Director Michael Masi threw out the red flag to halt the session. At that point Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly were in the drop zone with Verstappen on the bubble. Forty minutes later, with the rain having stopped and the track still wet but with little standing water, the action got going again.

    Within a few hundred metres, Kimi Raikkonen had a huge moment, running sideways before catching it and continuing – but Romain Grosjean wasn’t so lucky, the Haas driver losing the car at Turn 1 and beaching it in the gravel, bringing out the red flag.

    That heaped the pressure on those in and near the drop zone, as when the action got going again, there was just three minutes 30 seconds on the clock – and it took just over two minutes to do a lap in those conditions.

    Leclerc and Gasly hauled themselves out of the drop zone, as Verstappen went quicker, the conditions improving all the time, with Hamilton failing to improve on his final run after running well wide at Turn 1 but scraping through in 14th, one two places above the drop zone.

    Kevin Magnussen, Daniil Kvyat, George Russell, Grosjean and Nicholas Latifi, who spun into the gravel bringing out the double yellow flags in the closing minutes, failed to make the cut. Stewards said they would investigate all lap times set under yellow flags after the session.

    Knocked out: Magnussen, Kvyat, Russell, Grosjean, Latifi

    Q2 – Verstappen on song as McLaren and Ferrari miss out

    McLaren went bold for the start of Q2, sending out both Norris and Sainz on the intermediate tyres, with the rest of the field favouring the wet-weather rubber – but it soon became clear this was the wrong decision and they boxed after a few laps to take the wets.

    Up front, Verstappen looked at ease in the tricky conditions, the Red Bull driver comfortably going clear at the top, with team mate Albon slotting into second, albeit two seconds off the pace.

    As the session entered the final four minutes, the times started to tumble as a drier line started to appear, with Mercedes finally showing some pace, with Bottas and Hamilton moving into second and third. Alfa Romeo appeared to excel in the conditions with Antonio Giovinazzi a stunning fifth, and Kimi Raikkonen P8.

    It wasn’t so good for Ferrari and McLaren, mind, with neither getting a car into Q3, as they struggled to get the wet tyres to generate enough tyre temperatures, five seconds off the pace, with AlphaTauri losing their final car, too. Sainz was also summoned to the stewards for allegedly impeding Racing Point’s Perez.

    Knocked out: Norris, Vettel, Sainz, Leclerc, Gasly

    Q3 – Racing Point stuns the field, as Mercedes struggle

    Ocon and Perez went bold with the intermediate at the start of the final session, and initially it looked like the wrong move as Ocon struggled to switch the tyre on.

    But then Perez crossed the line and went quickest of all – and though he lost the car on his next timed lap, he got everything together to go even quicker next time around, three seconds clear of the field.

    At that point, it looked like the Mexican was on course for a stunning first career F1 pole position, however his team mate Stroll had other ideas.

    The Canadian, who has had a tough run of results of lap, kept his focus and put three sensational sectors together to take his first pole, becoming the fifth youngest person to do so, aged 22 years and 17 days.

    Racing Point also now have their first-ever pole under this banner, just four races before they become Aston Martin, and their first since Giancarlo Fisichella took P1 at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix when the team was racing as Force India.

  2. Kevin Magnussen slammed his fellow Formula 1 drivers for improving their lap times under yellow flags in Turkish Grand Prix qualifying, calling the situation “dangerous”.

    Magnussen was eliminated in 16th place in a messy Q1 that took over an hour to complete due to red flags called for rain and a spin for Haas teammate Romain Grosjean.

    Drivers had time to complete one final flying lap when the session resumed, only for yellow flags to be shown at Turn 3 following a spin for AlphaTauri driver Daniil Kvyat.

    Despite the yellow flags, the majority of drivers managed to improve their lap times, with Magnussen being shuffled back to 16th after abandoning his effort, leaving the Haas driver fuming.

    “I respected the rules, and I backed off and aborted the lap,” Magnussen said.

    “There was definitely a yellow flag. Someone is in the gravel in this corner in the outside, and the rules say you have to abort the lap, not just lift off or anything – it says abort the lap, which I did.

    “I was three seconds slower than my best lap, and the track was better, so everyone else pushed and improved their laps, and I’m now knocked out of Q1. At the time I was P7.

    “I’m pissed off.”

    The stewards confirmed at the end of Q1 that they would investigate all lap times set under the yellow flag once qualifying had been completed.

    But Magnussen remained frustrated, believing the penalties that would be handed out would not make up for his Q1 exit, and said in future he would simply break the rules.

    “These guys will get three or five positions,” Magnussen said. “That’s not going to make a difference for me.

    “Next time there’s this situation, I’m going to have to push, because I’d rather get three positions from P7 than now P-whatever I am.”

    Asked if he would speak to race director Michael Masi, Magnussen replied: “Of course, because if this is the norm, if this is normal, then I can’t justify backing off.

    “I’d rather get through and get a penalty after. So you know, it’s dangerous.”


  3. After scoring his first pole position, Lance Stroll was left feeling “shocked” with P1 for Racing Point. has the news story.

    Lance Stroll admitted he was “shocked” to secure his maiden Formula 1 pole position in the chaotic wet qualifying session for the Turkish Grand Prix.

    With Saturday afternoon’s action being hit by multiple red flags, Stroll kept his cool and a change on to intermediate tyre helped him claim the top spot in the final stages of Q3.

    The Canadian, who has not scored a point since he finished on the podium at the Italian Grand Prix in September, ended up 0.290 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen, who had looked in control of things earlier on.

    Speaking after the session, Stroll said he could not quite believe what had happened, especially because Racing Point had not looked so competitive in free practice.

    “I’m shocked,” said Stroll. “I didn’t expect us to be up here after P3.

    “There were a lot of things that we weren’t sure of coming into qualifying. We didn’t look too competitive in P3, but I’m so happy right now.

    “I really put that lap together at the end. I was under a lot of pressure and I only had one lap to do it there at the end, because we started on the wet tyre.

    “We boxed for inters and I had one lap where Valtteri [Bottas] spun in front of me, and then I had one lap at the end to do it. But I had the confidence in the car and I just nailed pretty much every corner, and pieced it together nicely.

    “It’s such a great way to bounce back after a few rough weeks and since Mugello really it’s been a rough ride for me so. Yeah. Feels good. Feels really good right now.”

    Stroll’s teammate Sergio Perez had topped the times in the early stages of Q3, but says he lost out on keeping in front as the track improved after being held up by Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi.

    “It is a great result for the team and something we weren’t really expecting,” said Perez, who ended up third behind Verstappen. “In the end, we were just unlucky.

    “My final lap, when the track was at its best, I had Giovinazzi in front and he simply didn’t move out of the way and then I lost my lap.

    “Obviously, track position was key today: to be able to maintain your temperature in the tyres. And I think we are in a good position. I definitely prefer P3 [on the grid] than P2. I think tomorrow that will make a difference.”

  4. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton commented that his Turkish Grand Prix qualifying was “the least enjoyable” of his Formula 1 career. has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton called qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix “the least enjoyable” of his Formula 1 career, but was happy to finish sixth in wet, low grip conditions.

    Heavy rain on the low-grip surface at Istanbul Park left drivers struggling for pace throughout qualifying, with a lengthy red flag due to the weather meaning that Q1 took over an hour to complete.

    Lance Stroll snatched a shock pole position for Racing Point ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, while Hamilton could only finish sixth in Q3, marking his worst qualifying result of the season.

    After calling the track surface “terrifying” following practice on Friday, Hamilton said qualifying stood out for being one of the least enjoyable of his F1 career.

    “It was definitely one of the least enjoyable, if not the least enjoyable that I’ve had,” Hamilton said.

    “This track, the layout is so great, but the grip is so poor that you can’t really generate the grip to go through the corners at the speed we would like.

    “But otherwise, it was a challenge, and challenges are always good.

    “The track surface grip is the worst I’ve ever experienced in any year of racing. Considering how much downforce we have, it’s been a challenge.

    “Going into the wet today made it even harder. So we were definitely limited by grip and temperature, but I’m pretty happy with the job I did.”

    Hamilton can secure a record-equalling seventh F1 drivers’ championship on Sunday by ensuring Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas – who qualified ninth – does not outscore him by eight points.

    But Hamilton said he was unsure how his car would perform in dry conditions after failing to do any set-up work through practice on Friday due to the struggles with the tyres.

    “I have no idea what car I’ve got underneath me tomorrow,” Hamilton said. “We made some set-ups going into today, and then it’s been wet.

    “If it’s dry, I have no idea how it is going to feel, if it’s wet, I know it’s going to be, it could feel as bad as today. We’ll just go with it. We’re all in the same boat out there, we’re all struggling. It’s really cool.

    “Congrats to Lance on the pole, that’s pretty awesome. We look forward to a fight with them tomorrow.”

  5. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was “so upset” in missing out on taking pole position for the Turkish Grand Prix after dominating every practice session and the two segments of qualifying. has the news story.

    Max Verstappen says he feels “upset” to have qualified second for Formula 1’s Turkish Grand Prix because he “looked very comfortable” at the head of the pack before Q3.

    The Red Bull driver had topped all three practice sessions – the two in the dry, but low-grip conditions on Friday and then again in the wet FP3 running on Saturday – and had topped the times in Q1 and Q2 by massive margins.

    He also led the way after the first runs in Q3 and looked set to improve the provisional pole time before he pitted to switch to the intermediates after Racing Point’s Sergio Perez had gained considerably on that compound.

    Verstappen eventually finished second behind Perez’s teammate, Lance Stroll, who became the first non-Mercedes driver to take pole in 2020,

    The Dutchman struggled on the inters, not finding the grip and balance he had previously enjoyed on the extreme wets despite lapping faster.

    “I’m just upset because the whole weekend we are actually first, and it looked very comfortable, and then you lose out in Q3,” Verstappen said in the post-qualifying press conference.

    “At the end of the day, I don’t care where the Mercedes is [Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, Verstappen’s regular top three companions in 2020, qualified sixth and ninth] – I just look at our performance.

    “And that’s just not good in Q3. That’s why I’m so upset.

    “You can’t look at other people’s performance to judge your performance, you have to look at yourself. And clearly in Q3 it was not good.”

    Verstappen’s second place on the grid for the first F1 race in Turkey since 2011 will be his equal-best grid spot of 2020 – assuming Stroll’s pole survives a post-session investigation over the way he drove past yellow flags for Perez’s spun car late in Q3.

    But despite equalling his season-best result in qualifying, Verstappen said “it’s the first time I sit here upset” in the post-session press conference.

    He added: “I think that says it all. It was all going quite well on the wet tyres, but already in Q1 when I tried to go on the inters [they] were just not working at all, even compared to other people on inters around me.

    “So in Q3 I was not very sure to go on inters because I felt really comfortable on the extreme tyres.

    “So once we boxed and we went out, I had no grip at all compared to the laps I was doing before. Just very disappointing to be second.

    ‘[I had] no grip, no front grip. Especially where there was a little bit more standing water, I was struggling a lot.

    “Through the fast corners was alright, but I just felt the shattering [in high gears] – so the front tyres were not gripping up.”

    When asked if starting his late-Q3 laps on the intermediates behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo had impacted his final attempts to get back to P1, Verstappen said: “Possibly a bit, but I don’t want to blame it on that.

    “For us that tyre was just not working, so we just need to look into that.”

  6. Carlos Sainz has been given a three-place grid penalty for the Turkish Grand Prix after stewards adjudged that the McLaren Formula 1 driver had impeded Sergio Perez in qualifying.

    Sainz had qualified 13th after McLaren’s gamble to use the intermediate tyre in Q2 didn’t pay off, with teammate Lando Norris also missing the cut for Q3 in 11th position.

    However the Spaniard is set to start the race from 16th position having held up Perez in Q2 when he rejoined the track after swapping his intermediates for extreme wets.

    In a bulletin detailing the penalty, the stewards noted: “Car 55 [Sainz] was exiting the pits as Car 11 [Perez] passed through Turn 1.

    “Car 11 caught up to Car 55 in Turn 2/3 and was unnecessarily impeded by Car 55 at that point and through several subsequent turns.

    “While extraordinary track conditions clearly impacted the situation, radio communications from the team clearly warned Car 55 that Car 11 was behind him.”

    Racing Point driver Perez narrowly squeezed through Q2 in ninth position before setting the third-quickest time in Q3, as one of few drivers to select intermediates from the outset.

    Speaking to Movistar before the ruling, Sainz said that he had hoped the stewards would take the poor visibility into account.

    “I cannot see, you try to leave the pits and warm up tyres and I hope that the stewards take all this into account,” he said.

    The Spaniard, who was third in F1’s last wet qualifying session for the Styrian GP in July, explained that the car felt much better after switching intermediates for extreme wets, but wasn’t able to bring the tyre up to sufficient temperature to improve on his earlier time.

    “We spent the whole qualifying trying to figure out which tire was the right one,” he said.

    “In the end, I realised in the middle of the session that we had made a mistake with the intermediate and when I put the extreme I went much better, but I could not improve.

    “If we could have done a third lap, I would have gone much faster. But well, that’s what it is.

    “We had not been able to warm up the tyre as much as we would have liked.”

    Sainz added that McLaren had “expected” to struggle in qualifying when conditions deteriorated on Saturday and said he hoped that conditions would improve tomorrow.

    “We expected that in rain it would be complicated,” he said. “We expected this negative result after FP3 so we have to see tomorrow if it is dry and we can recover a little.”


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