Max Verstappen qualified second on Saturday for the Grand Prix of Turkey. The Dutchman of Red Bull Racing had to leave the pole position after a spectacle in the rain very surprisingly to Lance Stroll of Racing Point.
Verstappen was fastest in Q1 and Q2, but failed to do so in the deciding Q3. He was almost three tenths of a second slower than Stroll, who took first pole in his Formula 1 career after two thirds. Verstappen got stuck at two.
Sergio Pérez completed Racing Point’s party by finishing third. Mercedes disappointed a lot. World Cup leader Lewis Hamilton, who can secure the world title on Sunday, did not get further than sixth place and Valtteri Bottas had to settle for ninth place.
Stroll had to fear that he would lose his pole to Verstappen. Race officials considered a possible grid penalty because Stroll and other drivers would have improved their fastest time in Q1 when there was double yellow, but did not impose a penalty.
Verstappen has a good chance of winning the race anyway. It will probably stay dry and in those conditions the Red Bull is normally better than the Racing Point. Stroll has never won a race, while Verstappen has already been the best in a Grand Prix nine times.
Top ten qualifying GP Turkey
- 1. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
- 2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing)
- 3. Sergio Pérez (Racing Point)
- 4. Alexander Albon (Red Bull Racing)
- 5. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
- 6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- 7. Esteban Ocon (Renault)
- 8. Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo)
- 9. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
- 10. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
Two red flags in Q1
Qualifying started chaotically. It was raining hard when the drivers went out. Verstappen, who started on the intermediates but quickly switched to the law, was the first to spin and after that many more drivers did. However, no one was harmed.
The race management ultimately thought it was too dangerous because it was no longer possible to drive at full speed on the straight and waved the red flag seven minutes before the end of Q1. At that moment, Verstappen was just on the right side of the line in fifteenth place.
After more than half an hour it was almost dry and qualifying resumed, but that did not last long. Four minutes later, code red was used again because Romain Grosjean got stuck in the gravel after a spin at the end of the straight.
Verstappen was not put off by it and set the fastest time in the last three minutes of Q1. He did not do that with double yellow, which means that the round must be aborted immediately, so he did not have to worry about a grid penalty.
Carlos Sainz did receive a grid penalty. According to the race management in Q2, he drove unnecessarily long in the way of Peréz and was therefore moved three places back in the starting line-up (from thirteenth to sixteenth place) and also received a penalty point on his license.
Verstappen stops round with purple twice
After a problem-free Q2, Verstappen seemed on his way to pole in Q3. He was the fastest in the first run, but then saw Pérez dive under his time on the intermediates. While he had purple twice, Verstappen chose to stop his round and also continue on the intermediates, but that did not work out well.
The Limburger complained about the on-board radio about the lack of grip with the intermediates. Stroll was also faster than Pérez in the last run. Verstappen still managed to squeeze in between the two Racing Points, but was especially disappointed with missing pole.
The drivers had a messy run-up to qualifying. They couldn’t use the full potential of their cars in the first two free practice sessions on Friday due to the slippery asphalt and Saturday the third free practice was marred by the rain. Verstappen clocked the fastest time in all practice sessions.
The race starts on Sunday at 11.10 am. The Turkish Grand Prix is on the program for the first time since 2011. Sebastian Vettel then triumphed on behalf of Red Bull, but the chances are small that he will do so again this year because he qualified in the Ferrari in twelfth, ahead of Charles Leclerc (fourteenth).
Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher’s record for his seventh world title. The Briton must not lose more than seven points of his lead over Bottas in the race to be sure and given the results of the qualifying, that must be feasible.