Turkish Grand Prix Qualifying Press Conference

Full transcript from the top-three press conference after qualifying for the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix, Round 14 of the 2020 Formula 1 World Championship, at Istanbul Park on Saturday.

Featuring first-time pole-winner Lance Stroll (Racing Point), second-placed Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
and Sergio Perez (Racing Point)

Track Interviews conducted by Mark Webber

Q: Sergio, those were extremely challenging conditions. You had pole position for a vast majority of the session, especially when you went onto those intermediate tyres, you look extremely comfortable. Run us through the session and it was also a great result for the team today?
Sergio Perez: Yeah, a great result for the team and something we were not really expecting. Very pleased. In the end we were just unlucky. In my final lap, when the track was at its best, I had Giovinazzi in front and he simply didn’t move out of the way and then I lose my lap. I think it was a great call, you know. Since the beginning we were pretty strong. Track position was key today as well, to be able to maintain your temperature on the tyres, but yeah I think we are in a great position. I definitely prefer P3 than P2, I think tomorrow at the start there will be a good difference.

Q: Max, oh boy, oh boy, that looked like a really tough session. In the session, on full wets, you were in a league of your own. Obviously the intermediates looked like the tyre to be on for everyone as ultimately the pole position tyres, but it just didn’t look like you as comfortable on that as the extreme?
Max Verstappen: No, already in Q1 when we tried to go out on the inters we had no grip. The track was a lot better in Q3 but for us the inters were horrible. The extreme tyres were good, very comfortable. Yeah…. Not good.

Q: A little bit lost for words, that’s understandable. In terms of the race tomorrow, you’re still in a great position, the car looked very well balanced on slick tyres, if it is dry tomorrow, we’re not so sure of the weather yet, but run us through starting from the front row tomorrow to take the fight to these Racing Point cars?
MV: Yeah, at the moment I’m a bit disappointed so… Of course, the race tomorrow, we can still do well, but when you are first all he time and you come out second it’s not what you want. The points are tomorrow, so I hope we have a good race.

Q: Thanks Max. Now, the man of the moment let’s say, buddy. Stroll on pole! That sounds like as good headline, buddy. It’s been a really tough few weeks for you; you’ve gone through lots of things whether it’s off track or on-track performance, and talk about coming alive when it counted. Pole position, buddy – first time since Jacques Villeneueve. It’s been a long time between drinks for Canadians. There’s steam coming off you! You’re on fire, literally.
Lance Stroll: I mean I can’t really put it into words right now. I’m shocked. I didn’t expect us to be here after FP3. There were a lot of things we weren’t too sure of coming into qualifying. We didn’t look too competitive in P3 but I’m so happy right now. I really put that lap together there at the end. I was under a lot of pressure. I only had one lap to do it there at the end. We started on the wet tyre and then we boxed for inters. We had one lap where Valtteri spun in front of me and then I had one lap to do it. I had the confidence in the car and I just nailed pretty much every corner and pieced it together nicely. It’s such a nice way to bounce back after a few rough weeks, since Mugello really it’s been a rough ride for me, so feels good. Feels really good right now.

Q: Sergio was running the pole position quite early on. Were you aware of that? Did you know there was pole in the car or were you just in your own little battle?
LS: I knew we were up there at the front. Listening to my engineers he was giving me feedback every lap on where we were but in these conditions you don’t really have time to think about where you are what’s going on around you; it’s just the next corner in front of you. Once I got on the inter I knew we were in good shape. It was pretty hooked up for these conditions around here, anyways, and to put it on pole is a special moment for me, one of the biggest highlights of my career. We dream about these moments growing up and it’s pretty special.

Q: When you pull up on the grid tomorrow there will be no one in front of you. Are you ready fort that?
LS: Let me go to sleep first and I’ll deal with that tomorrow!

Press Conference

Q: Lance, many congratulations, what a day. You’ve had a few minutes for it to sink in now. What’s your overriding emotion?
LS: I’m still not really in the moment right now. I’m a bit lost for words. It was such a crazy session. It’s been a crazy day since this morning. In these wet conditions it was just so slippery the whole way through qualifying. It was really just a case of being on the right tyre at the right time at the end on Q3 and I had one lap to deliver it at the end of qualifying. I felt like I had the confidence in the car and the consistency in my driving to do it and at the end of the session there I pieced my lap together quite nicely and didn’t really make any mistakes and yeah, I’m sitting here in pole position. It’s a pretty special moment for me especially after the last couple of months it’s been a rough ride for me. Since Mugello really. I haven’t scored a point since my podium in Monza. It’s been a rough run, with incidents and COVID. So much has been going on and to bounce back like this and put it on pole position today is very special for me.

Q: Lance, the call for Inters was crucial in Q3. Was it a clear-cut decision for you guys to put the Inters on – because most people stayed on Wets?
LS: For me it was. Yes, I expected to be on Wets until the end of qualifying with the track conditions just being so poor and the surface being so slippery – but in Q3 on that Wet tyre I was really feeling poor grip and I just knew the track was drying up and it was time to go on Inters. So we pitted for Inters with a few laps to go and immediately when I got on the Intermediate tyre, it was a lot better. So, that was definitely the right tyre to be on but in these conditions it’s so tricky. The surface is so slippery, it’s so hard to tell whether it’s best to stay on the full Wet or go to the Intermediate – especially with the track being so slippery. Everything is telling you full Wet, full Wet – but I was much better off on the Intermediate there at the end and yeah, the result says it all.

Q: And Lance, I know you’re living in the moment right now but throwing it forwards to the race, do you think you’ve got the car to win the Turkish Grand Prix tomorrow?
LS: It’s a big ask. Again, it depends on what the conditions are doing to do. I haven’t really looked at the conditions yet for tomorrow but I heard maybe there was a chance of rain at the start of the race, so we’ll see what happens. That could mix things up. I’ll deal with that in a couple of hours. I’ll let this sink in. I’m going to enjoy the moment for sure. It’s a very special moment for me. First pole position in Formula One. We’re going to digest that for a couple of hours and then focus on the race.

Q: Max, quickest in every session this weekend except for Q3. How frustrated are you feeling?
MV: Yes, I think it’s the first time I sit here this year upset. So, I think that says it all. It was all going quite well on the Wet tyres but already in Q1 when I tried to go on the Inters it was just not working at all even compared to other people on Inters around me. So, I was, in Q3 not very sure to go on Inters because I felt really comfortable on the extreme tyres so, once we boxed and we went out, I had no grip at all compared to the laps I was doing before. Just very disappointing to be second.

Q: Had you stayed on the extreme wet tyre, do you think pole position was possible today?
MV: Well, I think the track… yeah… was definitely leaning towards Intermediates but for me it just felt so poor that I think, if I’d just stayed out on the Wets I could have done the same lap time. Clearly something was not working for us today on that tyre.

Q: And throwing it forward to tomorrow, hopefully a cracking good Turkish Grand Prix coming out way ­– but do you think you can win it?
MV: I don’t know. We’ll find out tomorrow, to be honest. I think Lewis and Valtteri are a bit further down but I’m also starting now on the inside so that’s not very lovely. But we’ll find out tomorrow.

Q: Sergio, coming to you. Your first top three start in Formula 1, and you were fastest for a while in Q3. Are you a bit disappointed to not be on pole?
SP: Yeah. Really I think, towards the end I think my final lap was going really well. Very strong first sector but I caught out with Giovinazzi and that was it really. I tried to overtake him but I just simply lost too much. I lost the rear end to Turn Six, spun out and there was nothing more I could do. The call was good, in the beginning, to stay on the Inter, I think the Inter worked really well for us, but I think just the timing there at the end, with the track getting a lot better on the final stages saved us from pole – but on the other hand it’s a great result for the team and hopefully tomorrow we can make it into a lot of points for us.

Video Conference

Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Question to Lance and to Max. Lance, can we just get your thoughts on how the car developed when you switched to Inters in Q3? Was it a transformation or did the temperatures come into the tyres? And Max, did it go the other way for you? What was it about the Inter that you were struggling with? Did it fundamentally change the way the car was behaving?
LS: I just found a big step in overall grip, so immediately when I put the Intermediate on, I just instantly felt a transformation in grip and went a lot quicker.

And Max, how was it for you when you put the Inter on?
MV: Yeah, no grip. No front grip. Especially where there was a little bit more standing water I was struggling a lot. Through the fast corner I was alright – but I just felt the shattering, you know, so the front tyres were not gripping up.

Q: And you came out just behind an Alfa Romeo. How much did that affect the warm-up of the tyre and…
MV: Possibly a bit. I don’t want to blame it on that. For us, that tyre was just not working so we just need to look into that.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport): Start of question to LS cut off … you called for or were the team telling you what was going on with Sergio’s lap times on the inters? And then when you came out, you said you found a lot of grip immediately but did you have to do any extra work to keep the temperature in the tyres, given what we’ve seen all weekend, even in the dry on the new surface?
LS: Well, both myself and the team agreed that it was best to come in on inters, come in and fit inters. They were updating me on Sergio’s pace and at the same time I felt the wet tyre was quite poor, compared to Q2, especially, there was a big loss in grip compared to Q2 already so that gave me an indication that it was time to go to inters. Then no, once I got on the inter of course, in these conditions, it’s important to generate temperature early leaving the pit lane and push, lean on the tyre to generate temperature but that’s what I did and like I said, my first lap I had a Mercedes in front of me that spun but I still improved, even with that but that wasn’t good enough for pole and on the second lap I had a pretty clear lap, it was great.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) To all three: what did you think about the race director’s handling of the situation? Were the timings right, both in terms of red flagging, stopping, starting the sessions etc?
SP: I think they were OK. Just probably in Q1 it took a bit longer in terms of drying up more than even the track but other than that, I think it was pretty accurate.
LS: Yeah, I agree, I think it was Ok, it was good.
MV: I agree.

Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) Max, I hear what you say about tyre in Q3 but even on the inters we could see that in 17 of the 23 mini-sectors of the last you were purple. What went wrong in those last corners?
MV: I was going faster but I had no grip so compared to the balance I had before. Like I said, probably it wasn’t the right tyre to be on but it was not good. We should have been doing better, switching to that tyre, compared to what we were doing before. We were comfortably in first compared to everyone else on the extreme tyre so we definitely missed something there. Doesn’t matter if you go purple or pink compared to yourself.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Lance, this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen you excel in wet conditions but obviously this was such an unusual experience with how low grip the track was. Can you just explain a little bit why you think you’re able to get more out of the conditions like this and what was that step from Q1 to Q2 to Q3? Did you feel this kind of giant-killing performance coming?
LS: Yeah, I’ve had some good wet performances in F1 but I don’t know, today, every day’s different. Every track is different. Conditions are constantly changing, even though it’s wet, surfaces are changing and things are always different. I think the key today was really getting the tyre to switch on. All weekend it’s been about getting the tyre to switch on – on this surface it’s so crucial and today I think we were able to do that reasonably well for these conditions. To be honest, through Q1, Q2, Q3 I felt like I was in a good position but again, you don’t really know where you’re going to end up because it is so dependent on what tyre you’re on at the right time but that impacts the result massively so I think it was just about being on the right tyre at the right time at the end of Q3 and switching on, that was the main thing. I was getting that tyre to work which I feel we did and that’s what gave me the confidence to really attack the lap and put it together.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) To all three: what were conditions like throughout the day, racing on the new and controversial track surface in the wet? How did it compare, for instance, driving your cars in the wet compared to what you found in Austria at the start of the season?
MV: Shit.
Q: Much worse than Austria?
MV: Yup.
Q: What about the wet in Portimão?
MV: Did it rain? I honestly can’t… it’s so… He’s pretty talkative so…
LS: Yeah, it was quite a bit worse than Austria. This surface is just so much worse than anywhere else we’ve been to all year in terms of grip.
SP: I agree.