Hamilton makes light of qualifying flop

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Stroll put the brakes on Hamilton and Mercedes' domination of qualifying this season
Stroll put the brakes on Hamilton and Mercedes' domination of qualifying this season

Lewis Hamilton made light of his and Mercedes' first qualifying flop of the year on Saturday after they were upstaged by Racing Point’s Lance Stroll at the Turkish Grand Prix.

The defending six-time champion, who bids to seal a record-breaking seventh drivers’ championship in Sunday’s race, was sixth in qualifying with his teammate Valtteri Bottas in ninth.

The Finn is the only driver who can stop the Briton taking the title again, if he can outscore him by eight points or more, but like Hamilton he struggled in treacherous rainswept and low-grip conditions.

"There isn't any grip at all,” said Hamilton. “I don't really know what to say. We did the best we could and that was the fastest we could go.

“The track feels terrible. It feels like driving on ice. For whatever reason, some people can get their tyres going, but ultimately, we're all struggling out there.

"I did the best I could and I didn't really make any mistakes so I'm generally happy. I did everything I could with what I had.”

Asked by Sky Sports F1 if he was disappointed by his pace and form, after the prolonged red flag-interrupted session, Hamilton retorted: “Have you not been watching all weekend? I was 20th before this so this is an improvement.”

His tone was light, betraying relief that he had qualified in the top ten with a good chance of claiming a podium finish, at least, ahead of Bottas to take his seventh title.

Stroll’s success in gaining his first pole and Canada’s first since Jacques Villeneuve at the 1997 European Grand Prix on his way to winning the title had ended Mercedes run of 13 consecutive pole positions this season.