Qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix was put on hold as the result of rainstorm too torrential to safely compete at speed, but when the session kicked off once again, Racing Point driver Lance Stroll managed to secure his first-ever pole position.
“I love my job,” Stroll said after he got out of the car.
Before I go any further, I want to note: tomorrow’s race starts earlier than normal. We’re talking 5:10 a.m. ET early. So, if you’re keen on waking up early to catch the race—or you need to know what time to set the ol’ DVR for—keep that in mind.
It was another weekend of deleted lap times, this time in part because of the damp. Grip has been shoddy all weekend, with drivers like Lewis Hamilton proclaiming the track surface “shit.” A technician for McLaren tweeted a video of road cars hitting the circuit overnight, possibly to build up some level of grip, but it only took one storm to wash away their efforts.
In the first session, Kimi Raikkonen spun in the wet coming out onto the track for his warmup lap, but he managed to get the car pointed in the right direction and managed to overtake a Ferrari. He was one of the lucky ones: Daniil Kvyat and Nicholas Latifi both spun, too, which knocked them out in the first session.
16. Kevin Magnussen
17. Daniil Kvyat
18. George Russell
19. Romain Grosjean
20. Nicholas Latifi
The second qualifying session saw the sky clearing and several different drivers holding provisional pole, like Lance Stroll, Alex Albon, and Max Verstappen. The biggest surprise was the Alfa Romeo team. Normally a backmarker, it seems the team has a solid wet-weather cars, with Antonio Giovinazzi in fifth and Kimi Raikkonen finishing eighth in this session.
The Ferrari team wasn’t quite so lucky. Neither car made it through the second qualifying session. McLaren had a similar problem, with their gamble on intermediate tires failing to pay off.
11. Lando Norris
12. Sebastian Vettel
13. Carlos Sainz Jr.
14. Charles Leclerc
15. Pierre Gasly
The final qualifying session kicked off with a provisional pole position for Red Bull Racing, only for the Racing Point of Sergio Perez to snatch that spot from Verstappen.
It was once again a struggle to determine which tire to use, with some drivers having great laps on intermediates while others struggled. With Perez on provisional pole on intermediates, other drivers pitted to swap tires and see how they would fare. For Verstappen, the answer was “not well.” Meanwhile, Perez went even faster.
But it wasn’t to be Perez’s day. His teammate Lance Stroll managed to sneak by for his first-ever pole position. He’s the first Canadian to take pole since 1997—before Stroll was even born.
Meanwhile, Hamilton qualified in sixth place and Bottas in ninth. This is a crucial weekend for both drivers: Hamilton could secure his championship this weekend if he significantly outperforms his teammate. But if Bottas finishes ahead of Hamilton, he’ll manage to keep his fading championship hopes alive for another weekend.
1. Lance Stroll
2. Max Verstappen
3. Sergio Perez
4. Alex Albon
5. Daniel Ricciardo
6. Lewis Hamilton
7. Esteban Ocon
8. Kimi Raikkonen
9. Valtteri Bottas
10. Antonio Giovinazzi
“I’m shocked. I didn’t expect us to be up here,” Stroll said in a post-qualifying interview. There was a lot of things that weren’t sure of coming into qualifying. I’m so happy right now. I really put that lap together on the end. I only had that one lap because we stopped for inters. I had the confidence in the car, and I just nailed pretty much every corner.
“Once I got on the inters, I knew the car was in good shape.”
Stroll has been summoned to the stewards due to yellow flag infringements during qualifying. Whether he’ll still be polesitter after that remains to be seen.
Update 11/14/2020 at 11:25 a.m. EST: Stroll has been released from the stewards. He keeps pole position.