Turkish GP: Stroll takes pole as wet conditions play havoc again

Lance Stroll secured his maiden Formula 1 pole position at the Turkish Grand Prix, with team-mate Sergio Perez ending up third.

Q1 began with caution from all of the drivers, but even then most could not avoid spins and journeys wide off the track.

Interestingly, Red Bull sent both cars out on the intermediate tyres, but Max Verstappen and Alex Albon were soon brought in for a change to the full wets after Verstappen went wide and spun on the outlap but managed to right himself before Albon followed wide at the same point.

Verstappen was quickly claiming a lack of grip on his radio, prompting the change of tyre. Both Ferraris were similarly brought in for a change from the intermediates to the wets.

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Even when the drivers were running on full wets they were crawling around corners and hesitant on the throttle in an attempt to stay on the track and set a valid time. As the rain continued to pour, the session was red-flagged with just under seven minutes to go.

After the restart, Kimi Raikkonen went sideways straight out of the pit lane but managed to straighten himself to continue in the session. It was over almost as soon as it had begun after Romain Grosjean marooned his Haas in the gravel at Turn one causing another red flag with three and a half seconds remaining.

Having cleared the Haas quickly, Q1 got underway for the third time with Verstappen eager to get out and set a time due to his current place in 15th. He managed to go fastest followed by his teammate, with the Ferraris performing well to get Sebastian Vettel into fourth and Charles Leclerc into fifth.

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The two Mercedes struggled again; Valtteri Bottas only managing ninth and Lewis Hamilton close to danger in 14th. The session timed out losing Nicholas Latifi to the gravel. Eliminated drivers included Kevin Magnussen, Daniil Kvyat, George Russell, Grosjean and Latifi.

Q2 started unusually under a yellow flag as the Williams of Latifi was still being removed from the track. After that things ran a bit more smoothly as the lap times fell below two minutes.

Ferrari’s luck ended in Q1 as Vettel could only qualify 12th and Leclerc 14th. McLaren also had a poor run with Lando Norris qualifying 11th and Carlos Sainz qualifying 13th. Pierre Gasly was the last of the drivers eliminated from Q2 in 15th.

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Once again Red Bull topped the time sheets, and there was a slight improvement from the Mercedes drivers with Hamilton third and Bottas seventh. It was also an excellent Q2 for Alfa Romeo, Antonio Giovinazzi reaching fifth and Raikkonen getting through to Q3 in eighth. Also through to Q3 were the two Renaults and the two Racing Points.

Q3 saw a strong lap initially from Verstappen, however he was quickly brought in for intermediate tyres after Perez set the fastest effort on them. Hamilton was also brought in for a change from the wets to the intermediates too.

The change for Verstappen proved disastrous as he couldn’t beat Perez’s time and came into the pits on a lap which would have put him ahead of the Racing Point driver. Despite improving his time in the latter stages of Q3, Verstappen was ultimately beaten to pole by Stroll. Perez secured third for Racing Point.

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Red Bull would have been optimistic before qualifying after superb free practice sessions for them. What was looking to be a promising weekend for them saw Alex Albon only manage fourth, still a relatively strong performance but will probably leave them wondering what could have, or should have been.

Mercedes had their worst qualifying session of the season, with Hamilton in sixth and Bottas in ninth. The rest of the top ten was made up of Daniel Ricciardo in fifth, Esteban Ocon in seventh, Raikkonen in eighth and Giovinazzi in 10th.

The Race Stewards have said they will be looking into several drivers who set times under a yellow flag in Q2, although this investigation is taking place after the session.