Lance Stroll upstaged Formula One’s title-chasing Lewis Hamilton on Saturday when he grabbed the first pole position of his career at the Turkish Grand Prix.
The 22-year-old Canadian made the most of drying conditions on a treacherous track to end Mercedes’ 13 race domination of qualifying this year.
Stroll delivered a dazzling fastest lap for Racing Point in one minute and 47.765 seconds in the closing seconds to usurp his team-mate Sergio Perez and then resist a last surge from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
The disappointed Dutchman was second, three-tenths behind Stroll, but ahead of Mexican Perez who claimed his career-best starting position after finishing fourth nine times in the past.
Stroll was the first Canadian to take pole since Jacques Villeneuve at the 1997 European Grand Prix at Jerez and it was the Silverstone-based Racing Point team’s first pole since, racing as Jordan, they did so at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.
The outcome left Mercedes well-beaten on the weekend when Lewis Hamilton bids to seal a record-equalling seventh drivers’ championship and draw level with seven-time champion Michael Schumacher.
The six-time champion wound up sixth behind Alex Albon in the second Red Bull and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo whose team-mate Esteban Ocon qualified seventh.
Kimi Raikkonen and his Alfa Romeo team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi were eighth and 10th with Valtteri Bottas ninth for Mercedes.
“Yes, Yes, Yes boys,” Stroll screamed on team radio. “I am so happy,” he added. “It’s been a tough time, but this is so good.”
His surprise qualifying performance comes after a tough few weeks when he had to miss the Eifel Grand Prix, testing positive for coronavirus the next day.
This is the first time this season that neither Hamilton (nine) nor Bottas (four) have topped qualifying.
Hamilton can seal a record-equalling seventh drivers’ world title on Sunday if he prevents Bottas from outscoring him by eight points.
Formula One world championship standings ahead of this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul:
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 282 pts, 2. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) 197, 3. Max Verstappen (NED) 162, 4. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 95, 5. Charles Leclerc (MON) 85, 6. Sergio Perez (MEX) 82, 7. Lando Norris (GBR) 69, 8. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) 65, 9. Alexander Albon (THA) 64, 10. Pierre Gasly (FRA) 63, 11. Lance Stroll (CAN) 57, 12. Esteban Ocon (FRA) 40, 13. Daniil Kvyat (RUS) 26, 14. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 18, 15. Nico Hulkenberg (GER) 10, 16. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) 4, 17. Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA) 4, 18. Romain Grosjean (FRA) 2, 19. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) 1
1. Mercedes-AMG 479 pts - champions, 2. Red Bull-Honda 226, 3. Renault 135, 4. McLaren-Renault 134, 5. Racing Point-Mercedes 134, 6. Ferrari 103, 7. AlphaTauri-Honda 89, 8. Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari 8, 9. Haas 3
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