Racing Point's Lance Stroll beat Max Verstappen to take his first caree pole pole position in a wet qualifying session for Formula 1's 2020 Turkish Grand Prix that was twice delayed by red flags. Stroll’s pole position is a first for Racing Point and the first for the team that was Force India since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.
Sergio Pérez added to the team’s celebrations by taking third place ahead of the second Red Bull of Alex Albon as Mercedes saw Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas qualify in sixth and ninth places respectively.
Q1 got underway with a steady drizzle falling across the track. Verstappen was one of the first on track, on intermediate tyres. That choice looked ambitious as grip proved almost impossible to find, and the Dutchman had a nervous moment in Turn 10, losing the rear end of his RB16 and sliding down the track before regaining control.
Meanwhile, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas jumped to the top of the timesheet on wet tyres before being quickly eclipsed by Renault’s Esteban Ocon who set the pace with a lap of 2:06.115.
Then with just under seven minutes left on the clock, and with the c onditions being deemed too treacherous, the red flags were shown and the session was halted.
After a 45-minute delay the session was re-started and Albon was the first out on track with Verstappen third in the queue. There was another nervous moment when at the start of their out laps Kimi Räikkönen spun ahead of Verstappen, but the Dutchman was just able to see the Alfa Romeo and avoided a collision.
Behind them, however, Haas’ Romain Grosjean spun on the way into Turn 1. With the Frenchman beached, the red flags were shown again. The Haas was quickly recovered but with just over three and a half minutes left on the clock there was just enough time for an out lap and a flying lap.
Verstappen vaulted from P15 to P1, almost nine seconds quicker than Ocon’s earlier P1, while Albon progressed in P2. Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen went through in third ahead of the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
It was a nervous finale to Q1 for Lewis Hamilton, too, with the championship leader scraping through in P14 ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez. Eliminated, though, were Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, Williams’ George Russell, Grosjean and the second Williams of Nicholas Latifi. The Canadian spun off in the final laps and double waved yellow were shown, leading race control to report that it would investigate possible failures to heed those flags after the session.
Under gradually clearing skies, Verstappen set blistering pace in Q2 and eventually sailed through to Q3 in P1 thanks to a lap of 1:50.393. That was just under two seconds ahead of Albon who took P2. Further back Mercedes began to find a level of comfort in the conditions and Hamilton went through in fourth place, though he was 2.5s behind Verstappen. Bottas was seventh, almost 3.5s off the pace. Eliminated at the end of Q2 were Norris, Vettel, Sainz, Leclerc and Gasly.
In Q3, though, the conditions changed in the final minutes and after Verstappen had set the pace early in the session Pérez suddenly jumped to the top of the timesheet on the intermediate tyre.
Red Bull responded by pitting Verstappen for inters, but when he tried to take the fight to the Racing Points he could find no grip on the inters and was forced to watch as Stroll stole pole with a lap of 1:47.685. Verstappen managed to push Pérez to P3 to take his 14th career front row start.
Albon will start fourth, while fifth place in the session went to Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, with the Australian finishing ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. Esteban Ocon was sixth in the second Renault, with Kimi Räikkönen an excellent seventh for Alfa Romeo ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Alfa team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi.
2020 FIA Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1:47.765 7 178.321
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:48.055 0.290 8 177.842
3 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 1:49.321 1.556 6 175.783
4 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1:50.448 2.683 8 173.989
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:51.595 3.830 7 172.201
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:52.560 4.795 7 170.724
7 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:52.622 4.857 7 170.630
8 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:52.745 4.980 7 170.444
9 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:53.258 5.493 7 169.672
10 AntonioGiovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:57.226 9.461 7 163.929
11 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1:54.945 4.652 9 167.182
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:55.169 4.876 9 166.857
13 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 1:55.410 5.117 8 166.508
14 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:56.696 6.403 9 164.674
15 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:58.556 8.263 8 162.090
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 2:08.007 10.522 10 150.123
17 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 2:09.070 11.585 8 148.886
18 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 2:10.017 12.532 9 147.802
19 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 2:12.909 15.424 7 144.586
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 2:21.611 24.126 9 135.701