Turkish GP 2020 - Qualifying Report

The Track

Tomorrow the drivers will go head-to-head at the Istanbul Park Arena in Turkey. This track had been first introduced to Formula 1 in 2005 in which Kimi Raikkonen had won from pole. This track is constructed on four main levels and there are several changes in elevation throughout the anticlockwise circuit. The most challenging aspect of the track is Turn 8. In fact in 2005 this track did not go down well with many drivers as several were off spinning during both qualifying and the race. During this qualifying session though most drivers were having trouble at turns 5 and 6. It has 2 DRS zones which might be reduced due to the severe weather conditions. Today the drivers were exposed to a great amount of rain especially during the Q1 session which caused a red flag. Despite this, it looks like this is going to be an exciting track with some great overtaking opportunities in turns 13 and 14.

How are they lining up on the grid?

  1. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
  2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  3. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
  4. Alex Albon (Red Bull)
  5. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
  6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  7. Esteban Ocon (Renault)
  8. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
  9. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
  10. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
  11. Lando Norris (McLaren)
  12. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
  13. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
  14. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
  15. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
  16. Kevin Magnussen (Hass)
  17. Daniil Kvyat (Alpha Tauri)
  18. Romain Grosjean (Hass)
  19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
  20. George Russell (William)

So what went on during the sessions?

This was a challenging qualifying session for the drivers. Due to the weather conditions, the track was much more slippery than usual. One should note that this track is already exposed to a great g-force so the conditions made it harder for the drivers to get a good grip of their car. Drivers had to be careful on how much throttle they applied or else they would have been off spinning. During Q1, all cars changed to Wet compound tyres but eventually a red flag stopped the session as the weather could not allow for safe driving. With 6 minutes and 56 seconds on the clock the session went on to see all Williams and Hass drivers out of Q2.

The real talking point of the weekend will be Racing Point as they had a brilliant qualifying. During Q3, Renault's Esteban Ocon and Racing Point's Sergio Perez were the only drivers to go out with intermediate compound tyres. Sergio Perez sent a flying lap of 1.52.037 which put him on top of the grid at the time. Red Bull were quick to respond by replacing Verstappen's wet compound with intermediate but it did not work out as well as it did for Perez.

He was struggling and could not find grip with the new compound and in the post-session interview, he admitted that the wet tyres were better and comfortable. Other teams such as Mercedes also tried to follow in Racing Point's footsteps but they could not match their timings. Sergio Perez span, in turn, five during his next lap and that put him off the track for a while and so he missed out on his first-ever pole. But Racing Point still managed to get pole position thanks to Lance Stroll who has gotten his first-ever of his career. Stroll admits that he was not expecting it and also thought they were not being competitive enough during the last session of qualifying. But without a doubt, he is very happy about it and it is a very special moment for him.

Alfa Romeo manage to get both of their drivers in the top 10 of the grid. The last time they managed to do this was during last year's Austrian GP in which Kimi Raikkonen started sixth and Antionio Giovinazzi started 7th. They managed to finish the race in the 9th and 10th place respectively. Raikkonen's experience has been evidently visible during this qualifying session. He managed a third place finish in Q1 and he has been getting the best out of his car throughout this season.

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Mercedes have not been having the best of weekend either after neither driver managed to secure a place with the top three for tomorrow. Lewis Hamilton had disappointing practice session and he said that he has been finding it very hard to drive around these conditions. Mercedes were not looking in good form this weekend and this might delay Hamilton's championship win. Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas had a disappointing qualifying finish and will start from ninth place tomorrow.

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Ferrari were having a great weekend compared to others. Charles Leclerc managed to finished third in FP1 while second in the last two practice sessions. He started off well in these conditions but could not manage to get a grip on the car during Q2. During the first qualifying session he also went off onto the gravel but managed to get out of it while in Q2 he went off at Turn 1 and that cost him a place with the Top 10 tomorrow. Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel seemed to have a great first qualifying session as he managed to get fourth place after he pitted for full wet tyres. Unfortunately he could not do the same in the following session and that also saw him out of Q3.

McLaren also were not able to make it into Q3. They were the only team to go out with intermediate compound tyres in the second qualifying session and it seems to have worked against them. Team Principal, Andreas Seidl said that it was a very disappointing result and that the drivers were complaining about the choice of tyres. Carlos Sainz will now also have to meet with the stewards as per Sergio Perez he was all over the place during qualifying and was creating an obstacle for him.  Lando Norris set up a good time during Q2 but due to track limits in Turn 6 that was deleted and secured a place just below the top ten.

Alpha Tauri's Daniil Kvyat could not manage a good qualifying either as a spin in turn 1 during his last lap saw him finish 17th. Teammate Pierre Gasly hopes to have a better race tomorrow as he could not manage a better qualifying. In Imola during the last race he had a great place on the grid as he lied in 4th but a problem with his engine saw him retiring the race early.

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George Russell finished the session in 15th place but due to a change in his power unit, he got a grid penalty. At the Turkish GP he will be using a 4th internal combustion engine, 4th turbocharger and 4th MGU-H. Normally, for the first infringement one received a 10-second penalty and a 5-second penalty for the second. Since Russell has exceeded three, he will automatically be at the back of the grid. Meanwhile his teammate Nicholas Latifi caused a yellow flag during his last lap. He went off the track and span onto the gravel. 

Latifi was not the only one that had this sort of incident as Romain Grosjean too got stuck in the gravel. His teammate at Hass, Kevin Magnussen is disappointed with this qualifying session and hopes for an investigation to be made by the FIA Stewards regarding the yellow flags. He is not happy with the fact that there were no penalties given for the other drivers who kept going through the yellow flags while he claims that he followed the rules and backed off. Magnussen also had the intermediate compound chosen for him at which he did not find comfortable.