Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Istanbul Park, 2020

Shock pole for Stroll in rain-hit Istanbul qualifying

2020 Turkish Grand Prix qualifying

Posted on

| Written by

Lance Stroll took a shock pole position in a qualifying session which was disrupted by rain at Istanbul.

The first stage of qualifying was red-flagged twice, including a lengthy break due to heavy rain at the Istanbul Park circuit.

Stroll switched to intermediate tyres for his final run in Q3 and beat Max Verstappen by less than three-tenths of a second to claim an unexpected pole position.


Following the rain-affected final practice session, little rain fell in the two-hour gap before qualifying. But the first drops were already falling as the session began, and knowing how gripless the track had been earlier, most drivers opted for full wet weather tyres.

There were a few exceptions, including the McLaren and Red Bull drivers. Max Verstappen ran wide and then spun at turns nine and 10, and resumed behind Carlos Sainz Jnr. To his surprise, much as had been the case at the start in Portugal, he noticed the McLaren had better grip in the adverse conditions.

Alexander Albon in the other Red Bull did one lap on the intermediates, then swapped them for wets, and set the eighth-fastest time. Verstappen persevered with the intermediates and it almost cost him – he fell to 15th, one place above the drop zone, seven-thousandths of a second ahead of Charles Leclerc.

The rain fell harder and harder as the session wore on, until poor visibility and increasing levels of standing water forced a halt to proceedings. “It’s chucking down in five and six,” reported Sebastian Vettel on his radio. “They should red flag it really because it’s undriveable. It’s more than aquaplaning.” Carlos Sainz Jnr was among others warning about the conditions, and race control soon decided to halt proceedings.

When the session was stopped with just under seven minutes remaining, Esteban Ocon headed the times in his Renault, followed by Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll. Leclerc headed the drop zone, followed by Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly and the Williams pair. Nicholas Latifi was a massive 15 seconds off the pace after spinning at turn eight in front of Bottas.

The session was suspended for nearly three-quarters of an hour, finally resuming shortly before 1pm local time. It didn’t stay green for long. First Kimi Raikkonen spun his Alfa Romeo a few corners after leaving the pits, but gathered his car up again. Then Grosjean understeered off at turn one and beached his Haas in a gravel trap, triggering a second interruption to Q1.

“I don’t know why we picked up so much front locking suddenly,” he told his team on the radio. “The rears were better but obviously the front not.”

“I’m sorry boys, you deserved better,” added Grosjean, who has only three races left at Haas, and possible in F1. “I just drove shit.”

No one had been able to improve their times during the brief window opportunity between red flags, and the final restart left just three minutes for anyone to set a better time. But when Verstappen jumped to the top of the timing screens with his first run, almost nine seconds quicker than Ocon, it became immediately clear the track was now much quicker.

However halfway around the lap Latifi spun off again, this time at turn eight, where he came to a stop. Yellow flags were waved at the scene, and several drivers passed them, as they set their lap times. Race control announced their driving would be investigated after the session had concluded.

Among those who lost out were Kevin Magnussen, who backed off and fell into the drop zone along with his team mate. Latifi’s spin ended his session and his team mate George Russell also went no further.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free


The second stage of qualifying brought some respite from the steadily deteriorating conditions. But the track had not yet dried enough for intermediate tyres to be the appropriate option. McLaren discovered this to their cost, and both Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jnr went no further after starting the session on intermediates.

Verstappen blew the rest of the field away, parking his Red Bull on top of the times sheets by two seconds. The Mercedes pair seemingly had nothing for the Red Bulls, though both made it through to Q3.

The Ferrari pair went no further, but to their dismay both cars from customer team Alfa Romeo made the cut for the pole position shoot-out.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free


Verstappen looked set to end Mercedes’ unbroken run of pole positions during 2020. It did come to an end – but not at the Red Bull driver’s hands.

Following the early runs Verstappen was on top but the track conditions were clearly beginning to improve. The Racing Point drivers opted for intermediate tyres and found superior grip from them.

Sergio Perez set the top time and Stroll joined him in a provisional one-two for the pink cars. Verstappen, meanwhile, was struggling to extract the most from his intermediate rubber.

On his final run Perez encountered Giovinazzi and was unable to improve his time. But Stroll lowered the mark further, finding huge chunks of time as his tyres warmed, pulling 1.5s clear of his team mate.

Verstappen had one run left in hand, but despite improving his time through the first two sectors it wasn’t enough. He split the Racing Points, but fell short of Stroll by less than three tenths of a second.

Albon backed him up in fourth place, followed by Daniel Ricciardo. Surprisingly the first of the Mercedes, in Lewis Hamilton’s hands, was only sixth. Ocon put his Renault seventh ahead of Raikkonen, Bottas and Giovinazzi.

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

2020 Turkish Grand Prix

    Browse all 2020 Turkish Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    116 comments on “Shock pole for Stroll in rain-hit Istanbul qualifying”

    1. Stroll’s entire career is now worth it.

      1. He might DNF at turn one

        1. Anyone might DNF at turn one given that track.

    2. Albon or Verstappen has to win tomorrow. This is a clear opportunity for them, and it appeared that Verstappen had pole by a long shot. I don’t trust Stroll or Perez keeping #33 behind if it is dry. If it is wet or damp, I believe Racing Point could have a chance against Verstappen.

      1. @Krichelle
        Albon may have a chance ONLY if Verstappen has some kind of trouble, otherwise Red Bull will ruin his whole race with a ridiculous strategy.
        And by the way, his car is not even similar to verstappen’s

        1. I thought all cars should be alike within a team. Not even similar? Could you explain some of the differences to me?

          1. Starts with having bignuts but whose are bigger? 33

          2. Verstappen tried out a different front wing during practice. Albon has the old one. Don’t know if VER is still using it though. Otherwise, the cars are the same.

    3. Exciting qualifying session. Hamilton was nowhere to be seen anymore when the conditions became treacherous? He used to come alive in these conditions.

      Max did great, he was dominating the field. In hindsight he should had stayed on full wets.

      Lance on pole.. I’m not a fan, but good for him.

      1. This was all about grip, both Mercs struggled through out practice sessions and never had them as favourites for pole position. Rbr were the favourites and they shot themselves in the foot.

        The rain just made it worse and getting the tyres in the operating window seemed to be their biggest problem. Hamilton Is a brilliant wet weather driver, arguably the best, but if you lack grip you won’t have confidence and therefore won’t go quick.

        1. I don’t think its arguable at all. I don’t have the exact stats to hand but Lewis has won all Wet weather races stretching back quite far.

          1. … in the fastest car. ;)

            1. Ahhh…I see. So RP are the fastest car ?

            2. So all you need is a fast car to win a wet race?

            3. Well, it is last year’s Mercedes…

            4. Cue Hammy fan replies ;)

            5. @iandearing
              It sure does help a lot.

          2. Before Germany 2019, the last time he didn’t win a wet race was Hungary 2014.

      2. Wets were not the tyres to be on as the track was evolving. Red Bull car was unable to find the grip on inters is why we have a Racing Point on pole.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          15th November 2020, 5:23

          @pinakghosh They are if you can get the temps in them. Neither Redbull or Merc could so while theoretically they were the fastest tire, Merc and RB would probably have set faster times on 8 lap old Wets up to temp.

      3. Staying on Wets was the wrong tyre for Q3 Max did the correct call to intermid but as he said grip was a completly different horse.
        But all those who drove past the double waved yellows are going to get a penaulty otherwise none is ever going to backoff as Magnussen.

      4. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        15th November 2020, 5:20

        @spafrancorchamps There’s a massive difference between driving a rubbered in track in the rain and a slick new surface. Lewis’s skill in the wet lies in finding the places on the track with the most grip and his ability to rapidly judge the level of that grip as the track changes. When the surface is as slick and new as this one, there is no differentiation of grip across the track. The Mercs couldn’t get the tires in the temperature operating window so he never got up to speed to begin with. You saw the same with Max when he went onto the inters. Couldn’t get them up to temperature. Personally I think Merc and Redbull should have stayed out on the full wets and just steadily built temperature as they had in Q2 and apparently so does Max! Regardless of which, there are two outstanding drivers in the wet on the grid at the moment, Lewis and Max and there’s nothing between them in the wet, but for those who really want to argue the point, 2 wet qualies in 2020 and Lewis is one pole to Max zero!

    4. Answered his critics !

      1. And answered Max!

      2. Did he, realistically? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to rain on this parade because I love that got pole and not one of the usual suspects, he did well and it’s clear rain racing is a favorable situation for the guy as he’s shown in the past. But so far, all his remarkable performances have come under special circumstances and not ones that would be indicative of being a great driver.

        He’ll show me he’s not a lower midfield driver in a good car once he lays in a stellar performances without favorable tactics or half the field retiring ahead of him.

      3. I’m going to love when he is World Champion before Max.

        1. That would be something @darryn, but Stroll is more mistake-prone than VER. Unless he improves that I don’t see him become DWC unless he is in a Mercedes and his teammate is Maldonado.

    5. Shock is indeed the word.
      Max is still my favourite for the win though.

    6. I was hoping for Perez on pole, but what a lap from Lance Stroll. Fully deserving of pole position. It was strange how much quicker the Racing Points got the intermediates to work than Renault and Mercedes for example, but full credit to the for that great strategy. The other stars of qualifying were Alfa Romeo. Two cars in the top ten, ahead of both Ferraris, was outstanding!

      1. It annoyed me, though, when Verstappen was sulking at the end; sat behind the bins. Clearly Racing Point won’t be a match tomorrow, so Verstappen is now the clear favourite being so far ahead of Mercedes. It surely will only take a few laps to pass Stroll (and maybe Perez too if he gets a good start), so Max should be happy with that second place.

    7. I wonder how long till Max is going to take the lead if not already into T1? This, of course, applies to both dry and wet conditions, but more so the former.

      1. I simply can’t wait for tomorrow’s race

      2. @jerejj What might be more interesting is how the grip compares on the left to the right hand side of the track. I would expect it to basically be similar, but Verstappen could be in danger from Perez if that side of the grid has more grip.

        1. @mashiat I would guess that all the rain will have washed away any disadvantage of being on the even-numbered side of the grid so it should be pretty even off the line.

          1. @frood19 Perez said after qualifying that he would prefer to be 3rd than 2nd, so clearly he thinks there is an advantage on one side of the grid (or was just trying to save face).

    8. It’s a pity stroll is under investigation ( a lot of drivers) for ignoring the double yellow in q2.

      1. You live in hope. It’s all you have 😁

        1. It’s a pity!
          He deserves his pole. Strange reaction.

          1. Come on Erik…you don’t fool me

            1. Why would I fool a fool?

      2. Pity for those who did respect yellow (if there where infringement).

        “Among those who lost out were Kevin Magnussen”

      3. @erikje What matters is where on the track the improvements came from, like with Hulkenberg and Rosberg in 2016. They mightn’t necessarily have come from the yellow-affected section of the circuit, especially given the conditions.

        1. The two red bulls and raik and Vettel finished their laps in sector 3 when the yellow came out in sector 1. So no problem.

    9. The thing about this young man is that he always excels in situations where you least expect him to. He is obviously very talented just that he has not been able to consistently bring out his best performance.

    10. An exciting session. Really strange to see Mercedes being a bit clueless all the way till the end. I was hoping to see Perez grab the pole, but he must have done some mistake in the sector two, and kudos to Stroll for driving so superbly. I wonder whether we’re in for more rain tomorrow, there should be showers throughout the whole day.

      1. Well it still was
        1. “Mercedes”
        2. Verstappen
        3. “Mercedes”

        But yeah. When Mercs are not in the top 3 it is good to almost everybody except to themselves

    11. To be honest, Stroll was doing well in the wet and slippery track throughout the qualifying sessions. But its more Red Bull unable to work out the inters and Racing Point able to do that that determined poll. Could have been Perez on pole as well, but he faced traffic on the final run.
      An exciting qualifying session overall and the intrigue of which car would eventually be on pole was satisfying.

    12. Get in Lance!! To whom it may concern…. hehe
      Max Verstappen has 1 more PP than LS! Something to think about 🤣

      1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
        14th November 2020, 14:22

        Max also has a dosen (much more, but okay) good moments in F1. Lance has 3. Something to think about.

        1. “Good moments”?? Thsts scraping the barrel, isn’t it.

        2. “Good moments”?? That’s scraping the barrel, isn’t it?

        3. @barryfromdownunder better car more chances of good moments? Its the first season where lance has a good car maybe perhaps thats why less good moments?

          1. It’s the first time he’s had a good car, and he has 30 less points than his team mate – despite being in more races.

            1. That happens when you have 4 more retirements. 3 being outside his control.

      2. And way younger then Lewis indeed :)

      3. petebaldwin (@)
        14th November 2020, 15:53

        @deanr – So you’re saying Lance is the 3rd best driver on the grid?

        1. What I’m saying is… it puts a bit of perspective on Max’s pole position efforts. And it does.

          1. You are really scraping the barrel indeed :)

    13. That hug obviously worked then, great stuff by Stroll.

    14. I expect Stroll to lose pole position over the double yellow situation in Q1

      Magnussen was right in his comments

      1. @anunaki actually, there are reports that, in that particular micro-sector in Q1, Stroll appears to have set a slower time than he had before – suggesting that he did in fact slow down where there were yellow flags.

        Three drivers were recorded as setting a personal best time through that sector, which were Russell, Sainz and Gasly – meanwhile, Leclerc appears to have set a personal best time through a micro-sector where there was a yellow flag for Kvyat spinning off the track.

        There might be drivers getting a penalty as a result, but Stroll might not actually be one of them – Sainz, Russell and Gasly might be more likely to get a penalty for their behaviour.

    15. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      14th November 2020, 14:21

      Red Bull 1-2 after (deserved) grid penalty for Stroll and Perez, looks good!

    16. The combination of a lot of drivers not (or just marginally) backing off under yellows and q2 starting while there was still a tractor in a runoff-area carrying a car away was not a good look.

      1. You would think they would learn from Japan 2014.

    17. You can say what you want about Stroll, but the guy definitely CAN drive in the wet. He already proved it 3 years ago in Monza, where he put his Williams on P4 in qualy.

      I doubt the RPs can stay at the front in the race, if it is to be dry tomorrow. I expect them to fight Albon for P4, as I think the Mercedes will just fly past them in dry conditions.

      1. Stroll has his best moments in the rain. And is an excellent starter. So nice race tomorrow.

        1. I think that these are related. Stroll seems to be very good at judging the grip level, which helps for both wet conditions and at the start.

      2. i dont think merc can fly past them so easily in the race. they are nowhere in the dry practice.

        1. @f1fan-2000
          I wouldn’t say they were nowhere. They were both in the Top5 and comfortably faster than the RPs yesterday in FP2.

          It really depends on how much Stroll & Perez did gamble setup-wise, to get that high up the grid, compared to the Mercs.
          Remember, how RP sacrificed qualy in Austria for a good race-setup and Perez just flew past the whole midfield!

    18. Any idea who are under investigation for Q1 yellow flag infringements? I think this won’t be the final grid.

      1. A lot of drivers including Stroll Perez RiC and lewis

        1. @anunaki Apparently, both Red Bulls as well. @huhhii
          At the time, I only paid attention to Gasly who set a personal best time in S2 after the yellows had appeared, but he could’ve been further on the road than where the incident happened, i.e., past that point before the yellows came out, in which case, zero impact on him.

          1. Not possible, both red hulls already passed the sector when double yellow was shown.

          2. @jerejj Max and Albon were in front and are not under investigation

          3. @jerejj Red Bull drivers are in the clear as they were already past that corner…

            1. It’s a mockery to go ahead with Q2 and leave off Q1 decisions till tomorrow.

            2. @macleod is that the only yellow flag incident under investigation though? The way that the FIA phrased it was that “all times set under yellow flags would be investigated” – they didn’t limit their scope to just that particular event.

              With multiple yellow flags being shown during that session, it would therefore be possible that one or both Red Bull drivers could have been involved in a different yellow flag incident to the one you are assuming – so, it would be better to wait for confirmation on who exactly is being investigated and for what incident, because there appears to be more than one yellow flag incident under review.

        2. Where can I get the info on who is being investigated?

    19. This is why Mercedes haven’t re-signed Lewis yet ;-)
      Stroll to Mercedes, Toto and HAM to Aston.

    20. Sky were so desperate for Max to get Pole so they could have used the headline Max bears Lewis to pole by 5 secs. Lewis has a championship to win and max has nothing to lose and still got popped by Stroll. Great pole by Stroll, he had good history in the wet especially Quali.

    21. How about Max though 4 seconds quicker than anyone else on wets? I can’t remember seeing that kind of dominance before. The inters just didn’t click for the car much like with the Mercedes, but only a fraction off pole, a big margin ahead of his teammate.

      1. It’s neither here nor there what you do in if you don’t perform when it counts.

    22. You’ve gotta feel for Lewis. Best car by a mile, and five other drivers beat him to the line. And we never stoop hearing how he likes the wet.
      We race as six….
      What about Bottas just pipping GIO for p9.

      1. You watched the practices and qualifying and you think the Mercedes was the best car out there by a mile?

        1. You’ve watched every other event this year and you don’t think that?
          Oh right – you think it’s all about how great Hamilton is.

          He qualified 6th, btw. ;)

          1. Yet finished P1 when the points are handed out. Made you look a bit silly there didn’t he…

      2. This didnt age well 😂

    23. You could see Max was so desperate to get pole today and show the world a dominant performance. I think he must get annoyed so much with Lewis winning all the time. Today was like Mexico 2018, he still won that race despite starting second. No excuses he should win tomorrow with Ham wanting to finish ahead of Bottas to secure the title. Mexico 2018 again…

      1. Max was 4 seconds a lap quicker than anyone else on wets, and still 4.5 seconds quicker than Hamilton on inters despite the RBR being horrible on that tyre.

        1. Haha cuz Merc were fantastic on the tyre right? Stroll and Max are atleast 2 secs quicker than Lewis(won basically every race in the wet he starts bar a few) or Bottas… Said no one ever.

      2. Like in Mexico or Monaco before, Max seems to not get it done when it counts. This is why I doubt he’s DWC material unless he gets into a Merc with a Bottas-type teammate.

        1. Does that mean that winning in a Mercedes with Bottas as a teammate is a soft victory?

    24. Quite a few talking points from that qualifying session.

      First of all, was the already oily, slippery surface made worse by the wet weather?
      Or was the qualifying session conditions determined more or less by the rain only?

      We have seen another bad decision in terms of safety, why did they restart Q2 prematurely when marshals and a lifting vehicle were still on the circuit?

      We saw how treacherous the conditions were so why not wait few moments longer. We saw something similar with marshals on the track when lapped cars were released under safety car conditions at Imola. Who is responsible for these decisions, I think I can guess.

      Red bull probably got it wrong by switching to the intermediates and this may have cost Verstappen the pole, but I guess it was not easy to judge.

      Delay in handing penalties also is an issue especially in instances were one handed sooner could mean the offender doesn’t get through the session or has to try and improve.

      It will be an interesting race tomorrow and we very well could see quite a bit of overtaking.

      1. I really enjoyed quali today.

        First Verstappen laps 3s ahead of competition lap after lap.

        Then brilliant intermediate lap by Stroll.

        We love to hate him, but for a pay driver, he is excellent in the rain. Good enough for his first pole. Congragulations!

        Tomorrow, Mercedes from mid pack, should be fun. I predict race rating around 8.5

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          14th November 2020, 16:00

          I just pray that they get round the first lap without incident – if so, we could have a really exciting race. The idea of Verstappen and Lance starting on the front row of the grid on a slippery track is a worry though. If they start lap 2 without having had contact, I’ll be amazed.

          1. I would guess going on what we have seen so far that those on the even number side will struggle to get off the line.

          2. invincibleisaac
            14th November 2020, 18:37

            @petebaldwin – remember back to Portugal, Turn 1 when they collided in practice? I think they should be okay though – Stroll is usually a good starter and Max is said to be on the less-grippy side. Besides, Verstappen is seemingly the clear favourite for the win so won’t need to risk it all in Turn 1 … long race ahead. Anyone know if the race should be wet or dry?

          3. I feel like Albon is most likely to be the one making contact. He’s so desperate to prove his worth right now, starting that far up the grid he’s going to fancy his chances of being first or second after the first corner.

      2. I was wondering about the track too, but it was already getting rubbered in a bit, and it didn’t look like pure ice.

        Restarting with the crane on track should have serious consequences. This is how F1’s last death happened. This happening right after the Imola scare should normally mean heads rolling. That’s at least the black and white flag for Masi. Especially so with not having established a system for quicker stewarding like you say. They need to happen there and then. Seriously unprofessional.

        I was convinced The Red Bull intermediate switch was a huge blunder, but with the huge time gains not so sure. Could Verstappen have been that much faster on the wets?

        But boy what an exciting qualifying, and kudos to Stroll. That’s the second time he’s shown his colors in the wet. Not sure Perez would have beaten it, even without the spin as he was 0.1 down already in the first sector.

    25. I admire that people believe that Stroll suddenly became a driver. He is not, its that today in that circumstances and i dont know how but kudos to the mechanics, the car was better than the others in this conditions.

      1. What the hell is that even supposed to mean?
        “Became a driver”. He’s already a racing driver you pretentious oaf.

    26. First pole for canadian since 1997 October. Quite a while. Still grear lap from Stroll.

      2020 season is just getting crazier.

    27. To all of you talking crap about Lance, he has more podiums than your heroes Alonso and Hulkenberg in the last 7 years combine.

      1. Oh dear – show us where the nasty people hurt you

        1. for some reason, i really laughed at this comment

    28. A thoroughly enjoyable quali session! Happy for Stroll, I feel like the criticism he gets can be unfair. Verstappen was absolutely mighty on the wets, his onboards were staggering. Mercs nowhere to be found. Should make for an entertaining race tomorrow.

    29. I’m not a fan of Stroll, but hats off to him – he did a great job today. I never thought I would be happy to see a racing point on pole but it’s so nice to see a different team up there. Even though it’s still basically a Mercedes… at least it’s a different color.

    30. Today has been one of the most entertaining days of the season. Reading the comments from unsportsmanlike Max fans regarding the Rich Kid Stroll pole is the most fun there is.
      They bleed from the wound, which is very exhilarating.
      This driver despised by fans today gave a lesson on how to handle underwater. Point.
      Obviously tomorrow will be another story but in the meantime we continue to celebrate the humiliating defeat of the worst driver in Formula 1 today.

    31. What a wild quali.

      Have to tip my hat to Stroll here but consistency is the main component of any great F1 driver. He’ll have to start turning in more performances like this more regularly to properly shake his critics.

      Gotta love how the wet shakes things up. Nice to see Albon really hold his own out there as well.

    32. Surprised with the poor Red Bull strategy as they normally are decent. Not going for a banker lap on wets in Q1, but gambling on intermediates for no good reason and ending up in all sorts of trouble is inexcusable. Almost Ferrari-like.

      Then in Q3, they seemed to have forgotten how poorly the car did on intermediates compared to the wets, and abandon an obvious provisional pole lap and the certainty of how much the wets improved lap by lap as it got warm which Q1 and Q2 showed. With all that could have happened with yellow or even red flags at the end of Q3 it was a huge gamble, and not really sure it ended up being that much faster in the end anyway.

    33. Could Mercedes have brought their 2019 car in for this session…?

    34. If someone else already said this, forgive the repetition. This is yet another indication of just how decisive the car is to the order. Yes, the drivers made a difference, but only on the margins.
      RP, RBR, RP, RBR
      Ren, Merc, Ren, Alfa, Merc, Alfa

      It’s good for Lance that he was the RP to be ahead, but it was only ever going to be one of a very few drivers. But he really has to start having results or drives more often than just in the wacky races.

    35. bool locks with that !

    Comments are closed.