Lance Walk took the first pole position of his career in qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix, but with most sessions in the wet it seems that Max Verstappen has taken the first pole position of his career. Things went bad with the Dutchman…
Red Bull Error
Max Verstappen finished his second qualifying session 1.9 seconds behind the rest of the field. Mercedes was nowhere to be found, teammate Alex Albon was her closest rival but showed no sign of challenge, and fourth-placed Lance Walking made a speed difference of three seconds. As the third quarter progressed, it seemed that Verstappen had taken the pole position.
So, what went wrong?
In the first and second quarter, Ferstappen saw the advantage of using tyres on extremely wet surfaces, but in the third quarter intermediate products were created. Some parts of the track started to dry out, so most of the contact parts of the track connections could find a coupling without aquaplaning.
But at the beginning of the 3rd. At the end of the third quarter, it was still at the crossroads between the extreme and the medium term. The choice of intermediaries was still a big gamble and the only two drivers who tried it from the start were Sergio Perez from Racing Point and Esteban Window from Renault. To underline the fact that the marginals called him that, Perez set the fastest time with the intermediate, while Ocon set the slowest time first and decided to go back to mouse safety.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Max Verstappen was in the competition until his last qualifying days. Serhat Cagdas/Anadolu Agency on Getty Images
When he saw that his 1.8 teammate wasn’t using middlemen, Stroll contacted his pit via radio and asked for the same tires. Red Bull also recognized the potential of the intermediate links, but Ferstappen was in the new fastest lap when it approached the pits – a lap that could overtake the best time at the junction – which made the decision difficult.
Anyway, Red Bull lured him to the pits and, although it might have seemed a mistake, because his sectors were fastest at the time, they would not have been competitive enough to follow the possible top four. Hiring Ferstappen as a mediator was the right choice, because everything was clear, although the exact time and place of his return was not exactly conducive to his situation.
In the intermediate stages, the long distance races behind the slower Alfa Romeo Kimi Raikkonen returned to the track, fighting the heat from the tyres, which is so important for the lap time. However, the first sector of his fastest lap at the end of the session coincided with a hike, and only after touching the overstein at the 7th minute he was able to get back on the track. He started retreating.
We struggled to take the curve of the extreme and you can see that these tires are quite complex, said Team Manager Christian Horner after the session. Max showed a great form in Q1 and Q2, then he outperformed Kimi for a few laps, so he couldn’t run on that tire, and in the last lap he had a crash and lost 7th place.
But when there wasn’t enough preparation and momentum in the faster corners, especially with Kimi’s dirty air, it was hard for him to create that temperature, and unfortunately a click in turn 7 – he was 0.6 seconds faster at the time – brought him back to zero, so he had to start again.
Fault! The file name is not specified. On Saturday Max Verstappen was on pole position. XPB – Pool / Getty Images
The most important thing was to have the right tyres and the right track temperature at the end of the session. Stroll, Verstappen and Perez were on the right tyres at the end of the third quarter, but Stroll was the only one of the three to make a clean lap when it counted. Verstappen also had the chance to switch to the intermediate position and traffic at a later time, but in the end he missed it with an error in 7th place.
Credit where it should be
Fault! The file name is not specified. Dan Istitene – Formula 1/ Formula 1 via Getty Images
The Walking Circle was impressed by whether Verstappen had the potential to defeat him. Racing Point was not a year-round race for Red Bull, but in some of the toughest conditions of the year, the Canadian was one of those who in a fast and clean lap worthy of pole position.
He did it as a 7th year dropout. The turn raised yellow flags, in which his more experienced teammate, who had previously completed a faster lap, turned around. The Commissioners investigated whether or not the yellow step was ignored, but it was clear from the telemetry and on-board recordings that he had thrown the turn down and completed it – enough for the Commissioners to agree that he was cautious because his teammate was in the area.
Hiking always places the best mini-sectors on the part of the track that normally serves as a barometer to determine if the rider ignores the yellow flags. But because conditions improved so much at the end of the session, the times of the fastest sectors were seen as the result of improved conditions on the track, and not as the result of those sectors clicking, despite the yellow flags. Even when climbing, it still had a 0.290s advantage over stacking on the same tires in the same conditions.
No matter how you spin it, it was a great qualifying round.
What happened to Hamilton and Mercedes?
For the first time this year Mercedes was unable to take a pole position. It took a combination of rain, new track surfaces and impressive laps of opposition, but Saturday’s session finally proved that the powerful W11 won in one lap.
The crucial point was the temperature of the tyres, and Mercedes drivers simply couldn’t generate it in the field. Whether it was an installation problem or a fundamental weakness in the car was not entirely clear on Saturday night, but as a result Lewis Hamilton took the start in sixth place and Waltery Bottas in ninth place. The team believes they would have set a faster time if they had worked harder on extremely wet roads instead of switching to intermediates (because intermediates are more difficult to dampen), but that would still not have been enough.
In all fairness, it must be said that the low grip of the Istanbul park is a total deviation from the 2020 Formula 1 calendar that would never have been taken into account in the design of the car, so perhaps it is not surprising that the team struggled to adapt the W11 to the extreme conditions. But don’t bet on Hamilton and Bottas coming back across the field on a dry Sunday.
Fault! The file name is not specified. KENAN ASYALI/AFP from Getty Images
- Carlos Sainz – Penalty for three goals, one penalty point for super license for obstructing Sergio Perez in 1st place
- Lando Norris – Penalty for the field of five, three penalty points for the super license because he did not slow down enough under the double yellow in the first quarter.