Racing Point Formula 1 team boss Otmar Szafnauer says Lance Stroll’s surprise pole position in Turkey was not just down to luck.
The Canadian bounced back from a recent run of misfortune to take the top spot in the dying moments of a dramatic wet qualifying session, beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and his own teammate Sergio Perez.
Szafnauer stressed that Stroll had led the way in choosing intermediate tyres for the closing minutes of Q3, a decision that paid off handsomely.
Perez briefly held pole but spun his final lap when running ahead of Stoll, triggering a yellow flag infringement investigation which led to no further action against the latter.
“It’s great, well-deserved,” said Szafnauer of Stroll’s achievement. “You can say that he’s been unlucky in the middle part of this year.
“But I don’t think this was luck. I think this was well-judged really. He came in and said, straight away that towards the end of Q3, it’s going to be intermediates.
“I mean, he said it right at the beginning of Q3, he said, ‘It’s not quite there yet, but it will be at the end.’ He came in and put the intermediates on, and he was absolutely right. And he got the tyre to work, and deserved pole position.
“Both of them did a fantastic job, absolutely. The conditions were the trickiest I’ve seen. A freshly resurfaced track that’s pretty slick without even water on it. And then add water and low temperatures as well, and it was like driving on ice, and they both did a great job.
“I mean, they’re very composed, Lance especially very calm, he communicated very well with the pit wall, told us what the conditions were like. Really good.”
Szafnauer stressed that the team had also made all the right calls.
“What you had to try to do is estimate and guess as to when the track was going to be the quickest,” he said.
“And make sure you’re out there at that time on the right tyre. And I think we did well today. We hypothesised as to when the driver should be out, when they shouldn’t be out, and we got that right.
“Always nervous moments when it is as slippery as it was out there, as slick as it was you never know when a driver could go off, damage a wing, get stuck in the gravel, all sorts of stuff can happen.
“And from that perspective, very nervous, and you know, it’s stressful when you don’t have control. And in those situations, the drivers have all the control, they’re driving the car, and you’re watching what they’re doing through the data and the visuals on the pit wall.
“And that does make for a stressful situation when you know you’re doing your best to qualify as high up as you can, but you have no control of what’s happening in the car. The drivers do.”
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