What the teams said – Qualifying in Turkey
They set tongues wagging at pre-season testing, and in truth have caused a stir in the paddock ever since. But while they have often looked the second quickest car on paper, Racing Point haven’t always translated that to results. They are in a great place to do so tomorrow after Stroll pulled a perfect lap out of the bag in the closing seconds of Q3 to storm to his maiden pole position, which had looked to all the world to be going to his team mate after Perez displaced Verstappen earlier on. First and third is an incredible result for the team and the drivers, as they look to steal a march in that tight fight for third in the constructors’.
Lance Stroll, 1st, 1:47.765
“Today was incredible and one of the best moments of my Formula 1 career. 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. 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. 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!”
Sergio Perez, 3rd, 1:49.321
“It’s a great day for the team and I’m very pleased. 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. We’ll have to see what is possible in the race tomorrow – anything could happen. 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.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“It’s a great day for us and it’s amazing to see Lance Stroll and a Racing Point on pole position. Tyre performance was the story of the day and Lance with his team made the call in Q3 of switching to the intermediates at the end. He said at the beginning of the session that the conditions would play out the way they did, which is not an easy thing to call. Lance was very quick on the wet compound and once we bolted on the intermediates, he went out there and did the job fantastically. Congratulations to him on his first pole position. Checo also put in a great performance to take P3 on the grid, which sets us up nicely for scoring well tomorrow. Today’s result is the reward of a lot of work overnight to understand the tyres and, while we didn’t expect it to be as wet as it was today, the work paid off. I think in both dry and wet conditions, we can be strong tomorrow and we’ll do our best to capitalise on it and score a great result for the team.”
Verstappen topped all three practice sessions and looked head and shoulders above the rest of the field in Q1 and Q2. On his opening runs in Q3, he was at one point over four seconds ahead of the rest. But as the track dried, the intermediate looked to be the right tyre to be on and the team swapped the Dutchman onto that compound, only for him to struggle to get it working. He pushed polesitter Stroll close, but not close enough. As for Albon, a decent showing netted him fourth, but he needs to do his talking tomorrow, and is at least well-placed to do so in a car that seemed suited to this track.
Max Verstappen, 2nd, 1:48.055
“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.”
Alex Albon, 4th, 1:50.448
"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. 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."
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“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.”
Renault had looked solid-but-unspectacular all weekend, but both drivers found some form when it mattered – Ocon even briefly topping the timing sheets. With both cars into Q3 at the expense of great rivals McLaren, they are well set for the race. Ricciardo got the better of the conditions to come home fifth, while Ocon might be slightly disappointed given he normally excels in the wet. But two cars in the top 10 and no one in the barriers marks a job well done for today.
Daniel Ricciardo, 5th, 1:51.595
“I thought yesterday was unique but today was something else! It was by far the slipperiest conditions we’ve ever experienced in Formula 1. It was so unpredictable, and I would compare it to driving on a skid pan. There was no sign as to where the grip was in the corners, and I wasn’t getting much feedback from the track either. I didn’t go all guns blazing in Q1, and I kept chipping away at it throughout Q2 and Q3 and to end fifth at the chequered flag is a decent result. It’s so much more taxing mentally when conditions are like this. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t blinking during a lap. It’ll be an interesting race tomorrow regardless if it’s wet or dry.”
Esteban Ocon, 7th, 1:52.622
“It was pretty tricky out there in very slippery conditions. It was maybe the most slippery conditions I’ve ever driven, but it’s the same for everyone and we tried to get the maximum out of the car. I felt we did well in Q1 and Q2, but not quite so good in Q3. We probably made the wrong decision to run Intermediates at the start instead of Wets as I felt we could have been in the top five. It was a good lap for seventh, but it was my only push lap on that set, so maybe with a few more laps, I could have been up there. There will be plenty of opportunities tomorrow. We don’t know about the weather yet, so let’s see.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director
“We’re happy with today’s qualifying session with both drivers inside the top ten. It’s never easy in these conditions and I think especially when it’s on the cusp of choosing between full Wet tyres or Intermediate tyres; it’s does make the strategy very tricky. We tried Intermediates with Esteban in Q3 and he couldn’t seem to make them work so we reverted him back to the full Wet. We’re pleased with the day and we look forward to a good race tomorrow, whether it’s wet or dry.”
They didn’t look in excellent form yesterday, the portents were there but the Silver Arrows so often step things up when they need to and find a way to gap the field against the odds. Not so today, when at times it looked as if their cars might not even make the top 10. Struggling to keep heat in the tyres and find grip, Hamilton limped to sixth place while Bottas had a spin towards the end of Q3 and could only manage ninth. With the constructors’ secured the result isn’t the end of the world, but they’ll still want to find some answers and salvage something from the race tomorrow if they can – with Hamilton unlikely to want to win a seventh world title by coming home in the middle of the pack.
Lewis Hamilton, 6th, 1:52.560
"It was so challenging out there today and we were all struggling, but for whatever reason some people could switch on the tyres better than us. We were limited on tyre temperatures and just couldn't find the grip we needed. We tried our hardest and did the best we could, but this was the fastest that we could drive today. It's going to be a challenge tomorrow and I think we'll find it hard to get the tyres to work, but I'll give it everything I've got."
Valtteri Bottas, 9th, 1:53.258
"It's been very tricky out there all weekend, but today was particularly challenging. We have a great car, but in the end it's the tyres that connect the car to the ground - and if you can't get the tyres to work and you don't generate any grip, it doesn't matter how strong your car is. The teams that managed to get the tyres to work ended up at the top and we clearly didn't do a good enough job on that front today. I really struggled on the Inters in Q3 as I just couldn't get any temperature into them at all. It's not the grid position I wanted, but I'm looking forward to the race. I know I have nothing to lose."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"It wasn't a great day for us today - it was cold and wet on a newly surfaced tarmac and in the end these unusual circumstances caught us out as we couldn't get the tyres to work. We didn't really get on top of these issues all weekend long and that's why we ended up P6 and P9 on the grid. But as we always say, the days where we are beaten are the days where we learn the most. I'm absolutely confident that the team that will analyse the situation and try and understand our issues today, will help us progress and make sure that we will be stronger in similar circumstances next year. Congratulations to the Racing Points - to Lance for his pole position and to Checo for being right up there as well. I'm looking forward to an exciting race tomorrow."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"We were struggling to get the tyres into the right window today, it's a problem that we had been battling with since we arrived here. We've got some freedom to make a few changes to the car tomorrow and we need to have a good look at things ahead of the race because tyre warm-up is going to be critical. Once we get temperature in the tyres, we seem to be in decent shape and the car seems to be working well, so getting the rubber to work is our main concern. It's an interesting weekend with many opportunities to grow our understanding of the car and the tyres. The unusual grid should make for an exciting race and we're looking forward to it."
The team are celebrating their 500th race as part of the ‘Sauber’ family and what a way to do it, with both drivers making Q3 for the first time this season. That was despite plenty of misdemeanours for both, who spent much of the day off track or pointing in the wrong direction. Raikkonen wound up eighth after spinning again in Q3 while Giovinazzi was caught out by yellow flags. But nonetheless they can be very pleased with their day’s work.
Kimi Raikkonen, 8th, 1:52.745
“We brought home a good qualifying result as a team and we can be happy with it. These were some of the most awful conditions I’ve faced in my career but there wasn’t much we could do about it, we just had to go out and face them. We struggled a lot in the morning, but I think the laps we did in FP3 helped us later in the day. Even when the rain stopped, the track remained very slippery and it was hard to stay on track, but in the end I think the conditions benefitted us. What really matters is tomorrow, we have to do our best and see where we end up. We have a good chance to convert our grid places into a good result.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 10th, 1:57.226
“It’s really nice to be in Q3 for the first time this year, especially to do so with both cars: it’s a nice way to celebrate the team’s 500th race, but there’s still plenty to do to get the job done. The conditions out there weren’t easy, probably the most difficult in my career, but we put together the laps when it mattered and we achieved our best result of the season so far. We tried to switch to inters for Q3 but in the end I couldn’t get them to work as well as I wanted: still, we can be very happy with what we achieved as a team. From these positions we have a chance to do really well, especially if conditions remain like these. It won’t be easy to make up as many places as we usually do at the start, but I will definitely try!”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“We can be really pleased about today’s qualifying result. The conditions out there weren’t easy with low grip and a cold and wet track, but we did a good job: the wet tyres worked well with our package and everyone delivered. This morning’s session was quite tough, but we had a good reaction as a team and made a big step forward for qualifying. We had both drivers consistently in the top ten throughout the session and this is a big morale boost, on top of being a good opportunity to score points tomorrow. We can be proud of what we did on an important weekend for the team, but no points are given out on Saturday: we still have to do a good job in the race.”
Just not their day. Neither driver could find a set-up to their liking and like a few others, they struggled for tyre temperature and grip throughout the session. They boldly tried the intermediates at the start of Q2 to no avail and couldn’t find any extra grip on the wet tyre either. Both drivers fell by the wayside in Q2, and have a tough job tomorrow as a result - not helped by both being handed grid drops for tomorrow's race.
Carlos Sainz, 13th, 1:55.410
“Very disappointed with today. We expected a tough quali because we've struggled to warm up the tyres all weekend. However, I think we compromised the session with the intermediate at the start of Q2 which obviously didn’t work as expected, and by the time we were managing to get the Wets to warm up properly, the session was over and I could only do two timed laps before the chequered flag. It wasn't enough.
“For the race the conditions look to be drier again, so we’ll do our best to recover from today.”
Lando Norris, 11th, 1:54.945
“A difficult quali. I don’t think we managed to extract enough out of the car to do better today, we just struggled throughout. Maybe we didn't choose the right tyres for the start of Q2, so we were a couple of laps behind the others. At that point I don’t think we managed to get the wet tyres in the right window to improve enough and make it to Q3. We’ll have to try to fight our way forward tomorrow and take any opportunities that come our way.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“It’s been a very tough Saturday for the team. Having neither car in Q3 was definitely not what we had in mind coming to the circuit this morning. Track conditions were difficult during the qualifying session, requiring rapid decision-making. With hindsight, deciding against the full wet tyre at the start of Q2 potentially cost us the chance to progress as we couldn’t put the intermediate tyres in the right window.
“Points are distributed tomorrow and not today. It’s important for the team to reset, apply what we've learnt in different conditions so far this weekend and get ourselves into the fight for points tomorrow."
Today was a shame for the Scuderia at a track that seemed to suit the car. Having been in the top three in every session, Leclerc couldn’t turn his tyres on when it mattered and dropped out in Q2. His team mate did likewise, but at least Vettel managed to out-qualify the youngster for the first time since Hungary. Starting well outside the top 10, can those two salvage anything from their race?
Sebastian Vettel, 12th, 1:55.169
"We were struggling just to generate heat in the tyres, and in a situation like this I think couple of degrees makes all the difference. Unfortunately we were not able to maximize our potential and I felt the Extreme Wet was our weakest compound. I’m quite sure the car was better than P12, but not in these conditions.
"Tomorrow it will be interesting even starting from the midfield, because the situation with this track surface is something we haven’t seen before, apart from maybe in Austin in 2012, when the asphalt was new. Yesterday, in the dry it was very tricky but was also fun. Of course the race won’t be easy but I think there’s definitely room to improve from our starting position."
Charles Leclerc, 14th, 1:56.696
"The conditions were very difficult for us out there today and unfortunately, our performance was worse than expected, after a reasonably good weekend so far. This morning it was raining quite hard but I could feel the grip and I was confident with the car, but this afternoon it was a completely different picture. We just could not make the tyres work in quali, we were struggling in the rain and being so far off the pace is really not good. I’m hoping for a dry race tomorrow."
Laurent Mekies Sporting Director
"This was clearly a very disappointing qualifying. We never managed to get the tyres into the right operating window, apart from our last run in Q1. We had already seen from the very first round this year in Austria that we struggle in the wet, but this morning on the intermediates, we were competitive and hoped that would also be the case in qualifying. However, especially on the extreme wets, the drivers were just unable to push.
"Throughout the sessions we saw big swings in performance, which shows just how difficult it was for everyone to get the tyres working properly. It’s a shame, because up until this session, it seemed our package could have been competitive in the midfield, but it will be hard to move up from here. From what we saw yesterday, that will be a big disadvantage. But we will do our best, as always, to bring home as many points as possible. It’s going to be a long and uncertain race, partly down to the weather forecast and we will try and make the most of any opportunity."
The team looked strong yesterday but as the rain rolled in, their pace diminished. Kvyat at one point said he was spinning every lap and a final big moment cost him a chance of Q2. As for Gasly, he did at least make it into the second part of qualifying but couldn’t extract any speed from the AT01. With both drivers liking an overtake though, don’t discount them from making strides tomorrow.
Pierre Gasly, 15th, 1:58.556
“It was a very disappointing day for us. The conditions were quite unusual. We’re usually pretty fast in the wet but today we couldn’t get the tyres to work. I was just sliding everywhere and wasn’t able to switch them on. There are a lot of things to review and understand for the race if we have similar conditions like we had today. We’ll have to work hard tomorrow to do better and recover positions to try and score some points.”
Daniil Kvyat, 17th, 2:09.070
“It wasn’t a good day for us today and I’m disappointed with myself. I made a mistake on my last lap and spun in the wrong moment, which ruined my qualifying. It was always difficult to stay on track, I kept pushing anyway and the rear couldn’t handle it. Getting the tyres to work hasn’t been our strength today, but on the other hand, it’s not normal to drive in conditions like these, they’re very extreme and unusual, and the grip feels insanely low. However, it’s the same for everyone and I didn’t drive as well as I wanted to. I don’t know what to expect tomorrow, the conditions are tricky in both the wet and the dry, so anything can happen in the race. We’ll keep pushing.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“The track conditions yesterday in the dry were tricky, and they were not easier today in the rain for both FP3 and qualifying where the track was like an ice rink. The drivers were finding it extremely challenging just to keep the car on the track, let alone set competitive lap times. We struggled with tyre temperatures in FP3, so we didn’t set a good lap in that session. We made some changes to the car to try and address that going into qualifying and we made a step, but clearly, others were able to manage the tyre temperatures in qualifying better than we were able to today. It’s a disappointing result and not a true representation of the performance of our car, as the session was dominated by the tyres and getting them in the right working range. There’s a lot for us to look at and learn for the future, and maybe even tomorrow if it’s wet. Hopefully, it will be dry in the race so we can put today behind us and have a strong result.”
Grosjean’s Q1 ended early when he optimistically tried to take Turn 1 at a reasonable speed and spun off into the gravel. His VF-20 wound up beached, bringing out the red flags. As for Magnussen, he was fuming post-session after he lost his flying lap to yellow flags. The Dane slowed, but believed plenty of others did not.
Romain Grosjean, 19th, 2:12.909
“Generally, I think I just didn’t drive well. On my first run I wasn’t doing a good job. I think the earlier red flag was definitely the right call. There was no way we could carry on. The out-lap of that last run was much better for me. I got into the rhythm and pushed the throttle on the straight – which was the biggest challenge of the day. I was quite confident we could improve, but I got to Turn 1 and I locked up. That was it – game over.”
Kevin Magnussen, 16th, 2:08.007
“There was a yellow flag all of that last lap and everybody improved their times. I backed off for those yellow flags, but everybody else seemed to be improving as the track was improving. I was in P7 and I got knocked out at the chequered. I respected the rules. We must abort the lap, not just simply lift off, if there’s a double yellow flag – which there was. I’m pretty annoyed with that. Everyone else pushed, improved their laps, but I’m knocked out of Q1.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It looked like we’d have a good qualifying, but it ended up that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time with the yellow flags in Q1. It is what it is. At the moment they’re predicting rain for tomorrow – so a lot could happen then as well. Certainly, a lot happened out there today. Congratulations to Racing Point on their pole position and third place. Maybe tomorrow lady luck is with us.”
Latifi had a big moment towards the end of Q1, spinning off into the gravel, and was forced to watch his stricken Williams be loaded up onto a lorry as his rivals got ready for Q2. Gone was the opportunity to finally out-qualify his team mate, but at least the Canadian will be starting ahead of Russell tomorrow thanks to Russell's grid penalties.
George Russell, 18th, 2:10.017
"Today, qualifying wasn’t as important for us as we already knew that we will be starting at the back of the grid due to the penalty. I was very keen to try and set some laps to see how the car was feeling though but unfortunately that was the limit today. I had very little grip as it was incredibly difficult getting the tyres working. Hopefully it will be an interesting race. We know that a lot can be gained on the opening laps so we will be trying to make a good start."
Nicholas Latifi, 20th, 2:21.611
"It was probably the lowest grip conditions that you will ever get to drive in Formula 1. It was tricky for everybody to keep it on the track; I literally couldn’t do a lap and the only lap that I did was before the first red flag as there was too much water on the track. It is what is, anything can happen in the race tomorrow as the conditions are going to be quite unknown. I think it will be a bit of a mess and hopefully we can take advantage of that."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"Today’s free practice session was very difficult with track and weather conditions even worse than yesterday and most drivers unable to generate useful temperature and therefore grip from the wet and intermediate tyres. We opted not to run in the conditions as there was nothing useful to learn.
"Conditions were no better in qualifying and the whole field struggled to varying degrees. Nicholas found it especially tough, but George found a little more grip from the tyres and was able to complete his final lap and improve his position, although he was unable to progress into Q2.
"Hopefully tomorrow’s conditions will be better and will allow for an exciting race. We knew that George would have to take a grid penalty this weekend and so we hope that despite the difficult testing conditions, we have been able to give him a decent race car, which he can use to work his way back up the field.
"Although the conditions have not suited the tyres well all weekend and this has denied us the full spectacle of this great circuit, the qualifying session was still exciting and has delivered a slightly mixed grid. Tomorrow is likely to be similar and if the weather conditions are still tricky then it could be a long and exciting race.
"Congratulations to Lance and Racing Point on their successful afternoon. We have seen Lance’s talent in wet conditions at first hand before and it’s no surprise that he was in his element today."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"The conditions meant that it was hard to draw many conclusions from today, with extremely low levels of grip, cool temperatures, and rain. We only saw the intermediate and full wet tyres used in FP3 and qualifying, with the pole position time set on the Green intermediate as the crossover point was reached during Q3, triggering a tense strategic battle. The marginal conditions and frequent interruptions made driving extremely challenging today, although the characteristics of both the intermediate and blue full wet meant that there was plenty of opportunity for the drivers to run as many laps as they wanted with the allocation available, as tyre wear in these conditions is very low. As is often the case when it’s like this, we have quite a mixed grid for tomorrow, when we expect conditions to be dry. Added to a slippery track and the several options available in terms of strategy – now that all the drivers have a free choice of starting tyres if it’s dry – we can look forward to an unpredictable race tomorrow, with several unknown factors to spice up the action. Congratulations to Racing Point for taking the initiative to switch to intermediate tyres first, and then claiming first and third on the grid".