Lance Stroll upstaged Formula One’s title-chasing Lewis Hamilton on Saturday when he grabbed the first pole position of his career at the Turkish Grand Prix, the Canadian saying “it feels actually good at this time”. The 22-year-old Racing Point driver made the most of drying conditions on a treacherous track to end Mercedes’ 13 race domination of qualifying this year. Stroll delivered a dazzling fastest lap in one minute and 47.765 seconds in the closing seconds to usurp his team-mate Sergio Perez and then face up to a final surge from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. The disappointed Dutchman was once second, three-tenths in the back of Stroll, but ahead of Mexican Perez who claimed his career-best starting position after finishing fourth nine times previously.
Stroll was once the first Canadian to take pole since Jacques Villeneuve at the 1997 European Grand Prix at Jerez and it was once the Silverstone-based Racing Point team’s first pole since, racing as Jordan, they did so at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.
The outcome left Mercedes well-beaten on the weekend when Lewis Hamilton bids to seal a record-equalling seventh drivers’ championship and draw level with seven-time champion Michael Schumacher.
The six-time champion wound up sixth in the back of Alex Albon in the second one Red Bull and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo whose team-mate Esteban Ocon qualified seventh.
“Yes, Yes, Yes boys,” Stroll screamed on the team radio.
“I will be able to’t actually put it into words,” he added.
“I’m shocked. I did not expect to be up here after FP3.
– ‘Feels good at this time’ –
“There were numerous things we weren’t certain approximately coming into qualifying. We didn’t look that competitive in Q3.”
His surprise qualifying performance comes after a difficult few weeks when he had to overlook the Eifel Grand Prix, testing positive for coronavirus day after today.
“It has been a pretty rough ride for me so it feels good. Feels actually good at this time.”
This is the first time this season that neither Hamilton (nine) nor Bottas (four) have topped qualifying.
Hamilton can seal a record-equalling seventh drivers’ world title on Sunday whether he prevents Bottas from outscoring him by eight points.
After Friday’s ice rink conditions on the resurfaced circuit, heavy rain ushered in even more treacherous challenges in which lots of the drivers slithered and spun.
The Q1 session was once interrupted twice for red flags, when Race Keep watch over declared the track was once unsafe – firstly because of the conditions and then, secondly, when Romain Grosjean spun into a gravel trap in his Haas.
The interruptions added 50 minutes to the schedule as daylight receded in the appalling conditions, but the brilliant car keep watch over of Verstappen and his Red Bull team-mat Albon was once on display as they topped the times, the Dutchman 1.9 seconds lucid.
In the drama, Leclerc slithered through to Q2 while Hamilton, his best lap cancelled for exceeding track limits, struggled through in 14th place.
Grosjean was once eliminated in conjunction with his Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen, the two Williams of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi and Alpha Tauri’s Daniil Kvyat.
In the severe conditions, the teams were making extreme use of their tyre-warming facilities to verify drivers could find no less than some minimal grip before the rain relented, encouraging some to check out intermediates.
In Q2, both Mercedes were clearly struggling to retain any heat in their tyres while Verstappen, oozing confidence, set the pace.
At the flag, the Dutchman was once two seconds lucid of Albon with Hamilton 2.4 down in third and Bottas seventh while both Ferraris failed to make the cut to the top-ten shootout.
In Q3 Verstappen went four seconds lucid of nearest rival Bottas before Perez, on intermediates, re-set expectations by topping the Dutchman and prompting a switch of tyres for everyone else for the last surprising runs.
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