Max Verstappen was on target to gain pole position today at the Turkish Grand Prix. Verstappen and his Aston Martin Red Bull Racing car had been consistently strong in the terrible conditions all weekend, topping every practice session and was the best in Q1 and Q2. He was on a flier in Q3 and it would have had to take a good lap to take pole away from him.
Halfway through Q3, the two BWT Racing Point Formula One Team cars started setting much faster laps on the intermediate tyres, taking provisional pole away from Verstappen.
Verstappen tried to take pole back after switching to the intermediates but unfortunately for him, pole went to Lance Stroll and he had to settle for second.
Verstappen said: “To be honest it is very disappointing to finish second in qualifying today. It might seem strange to say that, as it is a good starting position, but when you are first in every session with such a big gap we expected more and it is a hard one to take. We just couldn’t make the intermediate work and get it up to temperature like the others for some reason, whereas on the extreme wet we were very comfortable and we didn’t have any issues.
“Clearly the laps behind Kimi didn’t help but also something did not work for us on that tyre which we need to understand. As people know, I always want the best and always try to do better so it is not a great feeling in this moment. But we can’t change it now. This is racing and you can’t always be happy unless you get the maximum out of the conditions. There are no points for today and we have good pace, so hopefully we will have a better time tomorrow and show what we can really do around here.”
Alexander Albon has a promising qualifying. He’ll be starting tomorrow in fourth, one of his highest starting positions in the year. It does, however, mean that he was out-qualified by Verstappen yet again.
Despite the high starting position, Albon felt like he should have got higher with the performance of the car over the weekend.
“Qualifying fourth is good but I think with how competitive we’ve been this weekend we are most probably a bit disappointed as we could have been higher. It’s a little bit frustrating because from FP1 the car has felt amazing and pace wise we have been very strong but today was all about switching the tyres on and we just struggled with the inters in Q3,” said Albon.
“The Racing Points came from nowhere in the last session and they just clicked on the inters but fourth is still a second row start so I’m looking forward to tomorrow as we are on for a good race. We’ve tried a few things on my side of the garage to get that confidence in and with conditions like this, confidence is what you need so it’s been a good weekend so far.”
Team Principal Christian Horner applauds the performances his drivers put in with such difficult conditions. Yet despite this, he is still disappointed that Verstappen missed out on pole after being the most dominant driver all weekend.
Horner said: “Both drivers drove incredibly well in treacherous qualifying conditions with Max dominating Q1, Q2 and the beginning of Q3 on the extreme wet tyre. The end of Q3 was right on the crossover for intermediates and we pitted both cars and swapped to them. Max unfortunately lost quite a bit of time behind Kimi on the first lap and was unable to warm his tyres properly.
“We also seemed to struggle for grip more on the inter than on the extreme wet with both cars as we struggled to generate tyre temperature. Max’s final lap still looked good for pole but a snap at Turn 7 cost him around six tenths of a second putting him P2. To lose pole by three tenths of a second after topping all sessions this weekend is understandably disappointing but the front row is still a good starting position for tomorrow’s race.
“Alex also looked competitive throughout all three sessions and for him it was all about getting a clean lap, which he did. P4 equals his best qualifying to date and credit to Racing Point for getting the intermediate switched on so well in Q3. We are not sure about the conditions for tomorrow but this grid should make for a very interesting race and both Max and Alex are in the fight.”