Lance Stroll said confidence in the car played a big part in his qualifying third on the grid for the Hungarian Grand Prix, as Racing Point found three seconds of performance year-on-year in qualifying.
Last season, Stroll qualified 18th with a 1m17.5s best as both Racing Points were knocked out in Q1, while pole position was a 1m14.5s. Although track evolution played a small part, Stroll’s 1m14.3s qualifying time this year that secured him third place behind the Mercedes drivers represented a massive step forward as the pole time was lowered by just 1.1s.
The Canadian said his tendency to pull out big results when the car is more competitive shows how he sometimes struggles to perform in difficult machinery.
“I’ve driven a pretty bad car the first couple of years in F1 and it didn’t give me a lot of confidence,” Stroll said. “I struggled to drive around some of the limitations. Last year, as well — last year was a big learning year for me. I learned a lot about myself, about my strengths and my weaknesses. I worked on them over the course of last season and coming into this season, and that (has led) to better results and better qualifying positions.
“It’s just been hard work away from the track and just learning on my end what I’ve got to do better and how I can be better — how I can get more out of myself. So, that’s been most of it. And then in terms of where we stand relative to the others … big hats off to everyone at the team, everyone at the factory, for designing this car.
“We’ve come such a long way from where we were last year that it’s really amazing. It’s really a lot of fun to drive this car, I must say. It’s a whole different experience to last year’s car. It puts a big smile on my face, for sure. Doing a quali lap around here, when the balance is right and it’s coming together — it’s a real flow, and it was a lot of fun out there today.”
Stroll expects Racing Point will allow its two drivers to race on Sunday, with teammate Sergio Perez starting alongside him on the second row and the team yet to finish higher than sixth in the opening two rounds.
“Everyone’s entitled to race out there. I hope we get to race hard. He’s going to fight for the podium; I’m going to fight for the podium. Haven’t been on the podium in two or three years, so I’m hoping we can have a good start and a good race. It’s been a while since I stood on a podium. I could do that again one of these days; that was nice.”