TURKISH GP – Lance Stroll takes surprise pole position in slippery conditions as Mercedes has worst qualifying of the season

Testing & Race Reports

Lance Stroll has taken pole position in a wet qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix. The Canadian took Racing Points first pole position since Spa 2009, when they were Force India, after finding time on the intermediates to go almost three tenths faster than Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Throughout the session, it became clear that being on track on the right time was key, as well as being on the right tyres at the track at the right time. The teams struggled to get the tyre to work and that compounded the problems with the new track surface.

Stroll took pole with his final lap in a treacherous afternoon where the session was red-flagged three times, as Mercedes appeared to really struggle on the slippery and low grip circuit with Lewis Hamilton only sixth fastest.

Verstappen looked as if he was going to be the fastest driver before Racing Point took a gamble on intermediates midway through Q3. Stroll first went second then improved to go fastest, this prompted others including Hamilton onto inters, but no one could match Stroll.

Despite taking pole, Stroll has been placed under investigation for failing to slow under yellow flags, as have many drivers.

Going into the session it had looked as if Verstappen was the man to beat, he was fastest in all the sessions up to Q3 but got caught out when conditions at the end of the session allowed drivers to go onto the inters rather than the full wets.

Stroll’s pole stopped Mercedes claiming their fourteen of the season, they have struggled all weekend. Sergio Perez was third fastest a second and a half behind teammate Stroll, but the Mexican out-qualified the second Red Bull of Alex Albon by over a second.

Stroll said, “We didn’t look too competitive in final practice but I’m so happy right now, I really put that lap together at the end, I only had one lap to do it on the inters.”

Verstappen added “Already in Q1 when we tried to go out on the inters we had no grip. The track was a lot better in Q3 but for us the inters were horrible. The extreme tyres were good and was very comfortable. Not good.”

Wet conditions normally give teams a leveller playing field and show what drivers can do. Daniel Ricciardo was fifth fastest going nearly a second faster than Lewis Hamilton, who can become a seven-time champion if he outscores Valtteri Bottas by seven points.

Ricciardo sticking with full wet tyres throughout the session and secured fifth for Renault.

Hamilton had trailed Bottas for much of the session, but as always pulled his best lap together at the end of the session. Mercedes have taken pole for every race this season, but have struggled throughout the weekend for grip and tyre temperature, leaving them four seconds off the pace.

Mercedes worst qualifying of the season could be key in deciding the outcome of the championship, Bottas was ninth and it looks unlikely that in normal racing conditions he will be able to keep his slim title hopes alive. The Finn starts behind Esteban Ocon and Kimi Raikkonen.

It was a strong session for Alfa Romeo, getting both Raikkonen and teammate Antonio Giovinazzi into Q3, they are the highest Ferrari powered team. The Italian-Swiss team getting both cars through to Q3 for the first time this season, as well as out-qualifying Bottas.

Lando Norris was fastest of the drivers knocked out in Q2, the McLaren driver was knocked out by his future teammate Ricciardo who went seven-tenths faster to get through to the final part of the session. The Englishman caught out as conditions improved.

Carlos Sainz starts thirteenth but is under investigation for impeding Perez at the end of the session.

This could be costly in the battle for third in the constructors with both Racing Point and Renault through to Q3.

Sebastian Vettel managed to out-qualify teammate Charles Leclerc, but Ferrari still remained several seconds behind Mercedes. It is the first time the four times has out-qualified Leclerc in recent races, Ferrari had looked set for one of their stronger weekends after practice.

Pierre Gasly couldn’t make the best out of a switch to new tyres at the end of Q2 leaving him fifteenth. His gamble to go to the fresh full wets not paying off.

Kevin Magnussen starts sixteenth, the Haas driver was caught out by the second red flag when Daniil Kvyat spun at the end of Q1. The Alpha Tauri driver was seventeenth, after complaining about poor visibility. George Russell was eighteenth but lost time because of yellow flags.

One caused by teammate Nicolas Latifi who beached his Williams at Turn Eight ‘Diabolica,’ causing a red flag. However, Russell starts from the back of the grid for exceeding his quota of power unit parts. Romain Grosjean spilt the Williams going nine tenths faster than Nicolas Latifi.

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.