Lance Stroll admits he was shocked when he was told he had taken pole position at the Turkish Grand Prix, becoming the first Canadian to win a pole in Formula 1 in nearly a quarter of a century.
Jacques Villeneuve was the last Canadian to take a pole position when he qualified first at the 1997 European Grand Prix in his championship-winning season. But Stroll ended that drought with a stunning performance in wet conditions in Istanbul, beating heavy favorite Max Verstappen by 0.3s on his final lap.
“I can’t really put it into words right now,” Stroll said. “I’m shocked — I didn’t expect us to be up here after FP3. There were a lot of things we weren’t sure of coming into qualifying and we didn’t look 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 because we started on the wet tire and then we boxed for inters. I had one lap where… I had Valtteri (Bottas) who spun in front of me, and then I had one lap at the end to do it.
“I had the confidence in the car and I just nailed pretty much every corner and pieced it together nicely and it’s such a great way to bounce back after a few rough weeks. Since Mugello, really, it’s been a rough ride for me. So it feels good — it feels really good right now.”
Stroll admits his first pole position — and second front-row start — is a dream come true, and says at the start of the crucial lap he was aware that he had a chance of a good result.
“I knew we were up there at the front; listening to my engineer 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 and what’s going on around you. It’s really just the next corner in front of you.
“Then once I got on the inter, I knew we were in good shape and the car felt like it was pretty hooked up for those conditions and I put it on pole. It’s a special moment for me. It’s one of the biggest highlights of my career, for sure. We dream about these moments growing up and it’s pretty special.”