Mercedes have struggled all weekend at the Istanbul circuit as they look to add to their seventh straight constructors’ title at Imola last time out with the drivers’ title through Lewis Hamilton.
He needs to leave Turkey with at least a 78-point lead over Valtteri Bottas and is currently 85 ahead of his Finnish team-mate.
Speaking after qualifying, in which he could only manage sixth, reigning world champion Hamilton – who can match Michael Schumacher on seven titles today – said: “We tried our hardest and did the best we could and that was the fastest we could go.
“I mean the track feels terrible, it’s just like driving on ice. For whatever reason some people can get their tyres switched on better than us. I think ultimately we were all struggling out there but some are better than others.
“But I did the best I could, I didn’t spin, I didn’t really make any mistakes so I’m generally happy with what I did. I did everything I could with what I had.”
Bottas added: “Getting the tyres to work, and getting heat into the tyres has been the story of the weekend so far.
“We really tried everything we could but in the end when we went for the inter in Q3 we only had two laps and it was never going to be enough to create enough tyre temperature.
“Other teams are doing a better job in that area. If we started on the inters maybe [we would have been able to get up there], but it’s a question mark.
“I think still, some other cars can create much more tyre temp than our car.”
One of those teams are Red Bull, with Max Verstappen frustrated only to manage second behind shock pole-sitter Lance Stroll in the Racing Point.
“I think this is the first time this year I sit here upset. I think that says it all,” said Verstappen in the post-qualifying press conference.
“It was all going quite well on the wet tyres but already, in Q1 when I tried to go on the inters, they were 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 [wet] tyres.
“I’m just upset because actually the whole weekend we were first, it looked very comfortable, and then you lose out in Q3. So at the end of the day I don’t care where the Mercedes is.
“I just look at our performance and that’s just not good in Q3, so that’s why I’m so upset. You can’t look at other people’s performance to judge your performance; you have look at yourself. And clearly in Q3 it was not good.”
The Dutchman has yet to secure pole in 2020 but the man who starts at the front of the grid, Canadian Stroll, said: “Today was incredible and one of the best moments of my Formula 1 career. When I was told over the radio that I had taken pole position, I was thinking: ‘pinch me, I’m dreaming!’.
“I’m still a little lost for words. I’ve dreamt of days like these and it’s a special moment.
“The conditions out there were incredibly slippery and it was very tricky to drive, but my confidence in the car was just building throughout qualifying and I was piecing it all together.
“We knew it would come down to the final lap and we put it all together for pole. I’m going to let this sink in and enjoy it before thinking about tomorrow. We know it’s going to be tough with Max close by and the Mercedes will probably make progress.
“But we have both cars in great positions and we can aim to score important points for the team to make it a really special weekend. I’d never been to Istanbul before this weekend, but I definitely love it now!”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff declared: “It wasn’t a great day for us today – it was cold and wet on a newly surfaced tarmac and in the end these unusual circumstances caught us out as we couldn’t get the tyres to work.
“We didn’t really get on top of these issues all weekend long and that’s why we ended up P6 and P9 on the grid. But as we always say, the days where we are beaten are the days where we learn the most.
“I’m absolutely confident that the team that will analyse the situation and try and understand our issues today, will help us progress and make sure that we will be stronger in similar circumstances next year.
“Congratulations to the Racing Points – to Lance for his pole position and to Checo for being right up there as well. I’m looking forward to an exciting race tomorrow.”
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