Lance Stroll can celebrate his maiden Formula 1 pole position after stewards at Intercity Istanbul Park exonerated him of any wrongdoing under yellow flags during his quickest lap in Q3.
The Canadian took a surprise pole in difficult conditions in Turkey but was placed under investigation after showing an improvement in his lap time under yellow flag conditions.
However, the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team racer was cleared of any wrongdoing, and as such will start the Turkish Grand Prix from pole position.
“[Stroll] approached Turn 7 with a single yellow flag showing for the sector due to Car 11 (Sergio Perez) off track on the outside of the corner,” read the stewards report. “By telemetry, [Stroll] clearly came off the throttle, coasted into the corner, and then accelerated when clear of the incident.
“Sector times do not clearly show this as the track was rapidly drying and each lap was quicker than the preceding lap.”
“I’ve dreamt of days like these and it’s a special moment” – Lance Stroll
Stroll says taking pole position in Turkey is amongst his best moments of his Formula 1 career, and he admitted it was a shock to be told he was fastest of anyone at the end of Qualifying.
The twenty-two-year-old has often excelled when track conditions have been tricky, and Saturday afternoon was no exception as he stole pole position away from Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen by just under three-tenths of a second.
“Today was incredible and one of the best moments of my Formula 1 career,” said Stroll. “When I was told over the radio that I had taken pole position, I was thinking: ‘pinch me, I’m dreaming!’.
“I’m still a little lost for words: I’ve dreamt of days like these and it’s a special moment. The conditions out there were incredibly slippery and it was very tricky to drive, but my confidence in the car was just building throughout qualifying and I was piecing it all together.
“Precision, concentration and finding the flow is absolutely key in the wet because it can always be unpredictable from corner to corner on the track. When the car is feeling this good and the tyres are switched on, it’s like a dance and I love driving in those situations.”
Stroll felt the call to switch from the full wet tyre to the intermediate tyre early in Q3 was key to taking pole position, and he also said it was important to nail the final lap as it was going to be the quickest lap as track conditions improved.
“The session showed that it was so important to be on the right tyre at the right time and we definitely made the correct call by being on intermediate tyres at the end,” said Stroll. “It worked out perfectly. We knew it would come down to the final lap and we put it all together for pole.
“I’m going to let this sink in and enjoy it before thinking about tomorrow. We know it’s going to be tough with Max close by and the Mercedes will probably make progress, but we have both cars in great positions and we can aim to score important points for the team to make it a really special weekend.
“I’d never been to Istanbul before this weekend, but I definitely love it now!”
“It’s a great day for the team and I’m very pleased” – Sergio Pérez
Team-mate Sergio Pérez will start third, making it a great day for Racing Point, although the Mexican will be kicking himself after making a mistake on his final lap that perhaps cost him a shot at his maiden pole position.
Pérez had been quickest prior to the last run but was the cause of the yellow flag that Stroll was investigated for, although his best lap was still good enough for his best qualifying result of his career to date.
Despite almost being eliminated in Q1 by being forced to abort his final lap due to yellow flags, Pérez felt it was a good day for the team, and it was his call to start Q3 on intermediates that saw other drivers abort their own laps on the full wets to pit.
“It’s a great day for the team and I’m very pleased,” said Pérez. “In Q1, I had to abort my best lap under yellow flags and that almost cost me a place in Q2, especially as others didn’t abort their laps under double waved yellow. But we narrowly made it through.
“Once we were in Q3, we decided to go for the intermediate tyre because I was confident we could get the temperature into it and make it work. It paid off and lap by lap, we were improving and looking quick.
“I think I could have taken pole today, but on my final lap when my tyres were at their best, [Antonio] Giovinazzi was in front of me at Turn 5 and he went off and came back onto the track in front of me, and I had to back off. But still, I’m very happy with P3, especially because it means we will start on the better side of the grid than we would have in P2.
“We can be proud of how much we improved the car overnight and we were very strong in the wet conditions.”
Pérez hopes to avoid any incidents on the opening lap that could spoil his Turkish Grand Prix, but he feels Racing Point are in a good position to score big points on Sunday as they bid to finish third in the Constructors’ Championship.
“We’ll have to see what is possible in the race tomorrow – anything could happen,” said the Mexican. “We know the Mercedes are going to come through the field and Max will be strong, but hopefully we can have a good first lap and go from there.
“I expect it will be a tricky start to the race because it’s going to be difficult to get the tyres up to temperature quickly, but hopefully we can take advantage and bring home a special result for the team.”