Stroll vs Verstappen for the win, Perez vs Albon for a Red Bull seat?

2020 Turkish Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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It’s often said that rain is ‘the great leveller’ in motor racing.

But rain plus a freshly-paved circuit and low temperatures created a freakish mix of conditions at Istanbul Park. Add in the ever-present challenge of keeping Pirelli’s tyres in the correct operating window, and this combination of circumstances was the great randomiser.

Consider the swings in form between Q2 and Q3: Max Verstappen went from being the best part of two seconds quicker than the field to losing pole position by less than three-tenths of a second. Racing Point found five seconds between the two sessions, while world champion Lewis Hamilton struggled to beat his Q2 time at all.

It’s framed a fascinating grid for the race: Lance Stroll on pole position, Verstappen alongside and their respective team mates directly behind them.

So what does this mean for the race? Obviously the first question is whether the weather is going to give the teams any respite from these challenging conditions.

Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Istanbul Park, 2020
Albon has equalled his best starting position
Given the practice running we’ve seen so far, Racing Point can be expected to have a hard time holding onto the advantage they’ve won themselves in any circumstances. The pink car was the one to have in the particular state the track was in at the end of Q3, transitioning from full wet to intermediate tyres. At most other times this weekend it’s been a Red Bull.

This is why Verstappen was so put out at being beaten to pole position. After all, he headed all three practice sessions and the first two stages of qualifying.

But he may not be able to easily assert himself when the race gets underway. Splitting the Racing Points may turn out to have done his chances more harm than good, as it means Verstappen will have to start off the racing line. There the grip levels may well prove to be non-existent rather than merely atrocious. Racing Point’s one-three on the grid could be a one-two by turn two – that’s certainly Perez’s expectation.

Still, in stable conditions the Red Bull should prove significantly quicker. Verstappen has certainly looked quick enough to pick off the pink cars, but what about his team mate?

This is an especially intriguing question when you consider Alexander Albon is starting alongside the very driver who has been tipped to take his Red Bull seat next year. That is Sergio Perez, who also happens to be 18 points ahead of Albon in the drivers’ championship.

The stakes are high for Albon. Red Bull is giving him every chance to bag a result which would make keeping him in the team next year a no-brainer. They will be looking at this grid thinking they pass Racing Point and keep Mercedes behind and claim their first one-two of the season. Albon has to play his part in that.

There is also the small matter of the drivers’ championship. The idea of Hamilton claiming his seventh championship with anything less than a win, let alone a podium finish, looked remote before the weekend began.

Yet there he is, sixth on the grid. In the race which could see him equal Michael Schumacher’s record of world championships, he will have to pull off something truly special if he’s going to celebrate it with a win.

Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lance StrollRacing Point2’07.4671’53.372 (-14.095)1’47.765 (-5.607)
2Max VerstappenRed Bull1’57.4851’50.293 (-7.192)1’48.055 (-2.238)
3Sergio PerezRacing Point2’07.6141’54.097 (-13.517)1’49.321 (-4.776)
4Alexander AlbonRed Bull1’59.4311’52.282 (-7.149)1’50.448 (-1.834)
5Daniel RicciardoRenault2’05.5981’54.278 (-11.320)1’51.595 (-2.683)
6Lewis HamiltonMercedes2’07.5991’52.709 (-14.890)1’52.560 (-0.149)
7Esteban OconRenault2’06.1151’53.657 (-12.458)1’52.622 (-1.035)
8Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo2’01.2491’53.793 (-7.456)1’52.745 (-1.048)
9Valtteri BottasMercedes2’07.0011’53.767 (-13.234)1’53.258 (-0.509)
10Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo2’07.3411’53.431 (-13.910)1’57.226 (+3.795)
11Sebastian VettelFerrari2’03.3561’55.169 (-8.187)
12Charles LeclercFerrari2’04.4641’56.696 (-7.768)
13Pierre GaslyToro Rosso2’05.5791’58.556 (-7.023)
14Kevin MagnussenHaas2’08.007
15Lando NorrisMcLaren2’07.1671’54.945 (-12.222)
16Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren2’07.4891’55.410 (-12.079)
17Daniil KvyatToro Rosso2’09.070
18Romain GrosjeanHaas2’12.909
19Nicholas LatifiWilliams2’21.611
20George RussellWilliams2’10.017

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Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lance Stroll40.723 (3)37.594 (1)29.448 (1)
Max Verstappen40.721 (2)37.736 (2)29.598 (3)
Sergio Perez40.685 (1)38.805 (4)29.831 (4)
Alexander Albon40.994 (4)38.696 (3)29.519 (2)
Daniel Ricciardo41.519 (5)39.885 (6)30.191 (7)
Lewis Hamilton42.281 (7)39.943 (8)29.927 (6)
Esteban Ocon42.436 (8)39.902 (7)30.284 (8)
Kimi Raikkonen42.262 (6)39.703 (5)30.545 (10)
Valtteri Bottas42.544 (9)40.311 (10)29.880 (5)
Antonio Giovinazzi42.816 (10)40.105 (9)30.510 (9)
Sebastian Vettel43.692 (13)40.764 (12)30.713 (11)
Charles Leclerc44.667 (14)41.023 (14)30.826 (13)
Pierre Gasly44.670 (15)42.104 (15)31.380 (14)
Kevin Magnussen46.061 (16)46.833 (18)33.302 (17)
Lando Norris43.193 (11)40.848 (13)30.727 (12)
Carlos Sainz Jnr43.234 (12)40.707 (11)31.445 (15)
Daniil Kvyat47.536 (17)46.710 (16)33.349 (18)
Romain Grosjean49.016 (20)46.826 (17)34.003 (19)
Nicholas Latifi48.875 (19)49.702 (20)35.328 (20)
George Russell47.655 (18)47.367 (19)33.286 (16)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Alexander AlbonRed BullHonda268.3 (166.7)
2Max VerstappenRed BullHonda260.0 (161.6)-8.3
3Carlos Sainz JnrMcLarenRenault256.7 (159.5)-11.6
4Lance StrollRacing PointMercedes253.1 (157.3)-15.2
5Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes251.2 (156.1)-17.1
6Daniel RicciardoRenaultRenault250.2 (155.5)-18.1
7Antonio GiovinazziAlfa RomeoFerrari249.8 (155.2)-18.5
8Sergio PerezRacing PointMercedes248.6 (154.5)-19.7
9Kimi RaikkonenAlfa RomeoFerrari248.1 (154.2)-20.2
10Charles LeclercFerrariFerrari247.4 (153.7)-20.9
11Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes246.5 (153.2)-21.8
12Lando NorrisMcLarenRenault244.6 (152.0)-23.7
13Esteban OconRenaultRenault243.6 (151.4)-24.7
14Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari242.2 (150.5)-26.1
15Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari240.8 (149.6)-27.5
16George RussellWilliamsMercedes236.7 (147.1)-31.6
17Pierre GaslyToro RossoHonda234.5 (145.7)-33.8
18Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari234.3 (145.6)-34.0
19Daniil KvyatToro RossoHonda225.6 (140.2)-42.7
20Nicholas LatifiWilliamsMercedes207.7 (129.1)-60.6

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Over to you

Can Lance Stroll pull off another surprise and win the Turkish Grand Prix? Can Valtteri Bottas pull off an even bigger surprise and keep the championship fight alive?

Share your views on the Turkish Grand Prix in the comments.

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2020 Turkish Grand Prix

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    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...

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    31 comments on “Stroll vs Verstappen for the win, Perez vs Albon for a Red Bull seat?”

    1. Chances are Stroll is not going to win, but I would certainly advise him not to give the hope up at the first couple of corners, and let Verstappen get away with some banzai move…

      1. If it rains it will be perez vs verstappen I think. If it doesn’t rain the verstappen has it easy. Perez was quicker in the qualifying too but on the last lap perez threw it away by going off on his best lap.

        1. Given the pace of the Red Bull for most of qualifying, I think Verstappen will dominate if it rains, and Albon will finish second, but it is not a certainty that they will be faster because conditions will be changing rapidly, and Red Bull may struggle more in some conditions than others. (maybe they are faster on wets but not on inters). Either way, the race will be more exciting if it rains than if it doesn’t.

      2. @gpfacts Stroll’s ‘investment’ of showing people he’s going to insist on his line if he’s ahead despite it ending up in certain crash like happened with Verstappen in Portugal, is now going to pay off.

    2. Don’t write off Albon for the win either. This kid is the real deal. Red Bull will be making a huge mistake if they don’t renew his contract. In fact, to inspire real confidence they should stop this talk of replacing him and instead sign him before the race starts in a few hours time. Give him the tools. It took Max a while to get up to speed too. This is a great pairing. Don’t ruin it Red Bull.

    3. If not for Red Bull’s not so smart decision to ape RP’s tyre choice, Verstappen could’ve been on the pole position by some margin. You could easily see that he was improving more than a second every run.

      So, even though I’m happy for Stroll’s first pole, I don’t think him and/or his car will have any answer to Verstappen tomorrow. It’ll be Verstappen’s race to lose.

      1. Well it was his qualifying to lose too and they did. Today we are going to see a fascinating race. I hope.

    4. Lol don’t insult perez by saying he will be fighting albon. I am pretty sure perez will finish infront of Stroll

    5. Counting on Red Bull to make another mistake that will cost VER the win.

      1. When have Red Bull ever made a mistake that has cost Verstappen a race win? Potentially at the British GP, but for all we know Verstappen might have got a puncture as well without the pit stop. I don’t think Red Bull have ever made a major error that has cost Verstappen a race win.

    6. VER, having the proper equipment, he is always a race win contender.
      And I always have been a critic of Stroll, but let’s give that to him. Ok, je has a rich father, but you do not become F3 European Champion by chance. I think his big problem in F1 is consistency…and for the experience he already have, he made too many rookie mistakes.

      1. Do people who use the European F3 Championship to judge Stroll even watched that particular championship and/or understand how he won it? You don’t become F3 champion by chance but it’s possible to become champion by having a big unfair advantage. This has happened several time, not only with Stroll, it happened particularly in that championship with Prema for what the championshio allowed. Do people really don’t understand?

    7. You’d have to be nuts to put Stroll in for the win over perez. Perez has a much better shot against Max while stroll will fade.

    8. Hamilton will be crowned WDC if everything goes to plan

      1. Will be weird seeing him win a title while in the lower points positions. Although that happened in mexico a few years ago.

        1. @ppzzus Interestingly, Hamilton has only won two out the six races in which he has clinched his championship (and could very likely become 2 out of 7 tomorrow). His finishing position in the races where he clinched the title but didn’t win the race were 5th, 9th, 4th and 2nd.

          1. Yup, true why break a tradition ;)

    9. I think most folk agree, Stroll doesn’t really deserve to be in F1, he just has a very rich daddy.

      Did he luck into pole, or is it on merit. Will we see a Maldonado type performance that leaves us all confused. Is he actually a good racer or did all the stars just line up for him?

      1. He has always shown pure speed and consistency in the wet. This shouldn’t be a surprise, especially with the Racing Point being very strong on the Inters. Regardless, this was an outstanding performance that doesn’t contradict the critics who say that he is fundamentally slow (in the dry) and is a solid but not exceptional racer who tends to qualify further back than his car is capable of being.

      2. I think most folk agree, Stroll doesn’t really deserve to be in F1

        Most quality commenters on this site seem to agree that Stroll has some F1 worthy qualities.

        Unfortunately, this site has become like most Social Media platforms with a lot a loud screamers and fewer quality contributors.

    10. Everyone seems to have forgotten about Ricciardo. Starting 5th, he could well be up to 3rd at the first corner, if the even side of the track is as bad as it promises. Then just Perez and I’d imagine a nervous Stroll on his first poll. Mercedes will come into this race but the question is from how far back and whether they survive the first laps. Verstappen should win still.

      1. The biggest problem Rbr have is that they had the best car for these conditions and capable drivers and didn’t have a front row lockout.
        If this was the situation with Merc it would’ve been a formality, this is part of the reason why Merc have dominated for so long.

        The EXPECTATION is an Max/Rbr win? Will we see it…

    11. Can Lance Stroll pull off another surprise and win the Turkish Grand Prix? – Perhaps, but I don’t think he’d win on pure pace.
      Can Valtteri Bottas pull off an even bigger surprise and keep the championship fight alive? – Unlikely.

      1. Even if Verstappen and both Mercedes retire, Stroll will not win this race without unbelievable additional luck.

    12. Turn 1, Verstappen crashes Stroll and Perez. Albon wins.

      1. Even if the top three are taken out in the first corner, I bet that Albon will still not win (on pure pace).

    13. * Alpha Tauri ;)

    14. Shovlin said he expects Mercedes will eventually get their tyres up to temperature, and then it’s likely going to be a formality with all the safety car periods that will surely come.

      Maybe finally we’ll see some sort of fight between Verstappen and Hamilton?

      1. @Balue I don’t think we will, but then again, it’s nice for a change to watch a race not really knowing what’s going to happen. We might even get a new winner today.

    15. Honestly why can’t people just accept that Stroll was simply sublime yesterday… Perez Verstappen whatever the circumstances had no answers (you can blame tyres traffic whatever but bottom line is Stroll was the quickest)

      His raw pace has never been in doubt from the moment you qualified on the front row in Monza. It’s his inability to be consistent which is hurting and that he gets involved in too many incidents.

      I wasn’t his biggest fan when he came into F1 but even i admit he’s improved alot and has definetely proven he belongs in F1

      People claim that rain is the best leveller right?? And the best drivers shine in the rain right?? Well that’s what this guy is doing!

      So stop criticising him and give him some credit!!! The guy deserves a break from all this negativity for crying out loud!

      Maybe if people stopped criticising him for once he’d be able to focus on the job more!

    16. I’m confident Albon can finish ahead of Latifi today.

    Comments are closed.