Szafnauer hails ‘great day’ for Racing Point as Stroll keeps pole following yellow flag investigation
A delighted Otmar Szafnauer watched his Racing Point cars take a shock first and third on the grid for the Turkish Grand Prix, with the team boss praising a ‘great day’ for the squad in pink after Lance Stroll claimed his maiden pole position.
There had been worries for the team in the aftermath of qualifying when Stroll – who’d put in a brilliant final Q3 effort on intermediate tyres to claim his first career pole position from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by 0.290s – was hauled up in front of the stewards, as they investigated the Canadian for an alleged failure to slow sufficiently under yellow flags in Q1.
But with a verdict of no further action passed down, Racing Point Team Principal and CEO Szafnauer was left to celebrate the best ever qualifying performance for his team.
“Lance Stroll, what a lap!” said Szafnauer after qualifying. “What a session for him actually, he did a great job. Called the tyre right and put a stunning lap in at the end.
“It was all about the tyre,” he added. “Lance called it at the beginning of Q3… He said by the end, it’s going to be intermediates, not intermediates now. He was pretty quick on the wets, came in, put the intermediates on and just went quicker.”
Asked, meanwhile, what the reaction had been from team owner – and Lance Stroll’s father – Lawrence Stroll, Szafnauer replied: “Lawrence is happy, he’s over the moon. It’s great for Lance Stroll in a Racing Point to outqualify Max in a Red Bull in the wet. It’s fantastic.
“A great day for us,” he added. “We got the tyre working, did a lot of work overnight. Didn’t quite anticipate all this wet weather, but even the work we did on the dry set-up helped for today, so hopefully we’ll have a good race tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, with Stroll and Sergio Perez – who had led early on in Q3 before eventually slotting in behind Verstappen – starting P1 and P3 on the grid, Szafnauer said it was a golden opportunity for Racing Point to make big strides in the battle for P3 in the constructors’, with just one point separating Renault, McLaren and Racing Point currently.
“For us to come out on top – because it’s so close, there’s only one point in it – both drivers have to score,” said Szafnauer. “We’ve got a good starting position now, and we just have to capitalise on it tomorrow.
“I think the probability of rain is less than it is today, but either way, whether it’s wet or dry, I think we’ll be in good shape tomorrow.”