F1 returned to Imola for the first time since 2006, in a special change to the schedule to a two-day weekend and only a single Free Practice session for the drivers to hone their craft around the iconic circuit.
With just 90 minutes of practice in the morning, the F1 paddock had it all to do by conducting programmes that included long-runs and qualifying simulations as well as understanding the three compounds in Pirelli’s tyre range in a condensed timeframe.
Lance would finish practice in P10 after his best time of 1.16.082 nudged him ahead of Checo’s best of 1.16.109 for P11.
Lance would lap comfortably inside the Top 10 at the beginning of Q1 before a flurry of late improvements caused a nail-biting Q1 finale.
Nevertheless, the Canadian admirably negotiated traffic in the first sector to post a 1.15.822 time for P15 that ensured both cars made it into Q2.
But Q2 proved a more challenging affair – and there was a cruel finale where Lance was denied late on in the session, running wide in the final stages of his flying effort to incur a lap time deletion, with his ultimate best of 1.15.494 leaving him P15 on the grid.
After another seemingly trademark lightning start, Lance would pass George Russell and Sebastian Vettel at the start, only to make contact with Renault’s Esteban Ocon shortly after, damaging his RP20’s front wing.
That put the Canadian on the back foot as he pitted at the end of the opening lap to switch to Hard tyres.
The race settled down until a Virtual Safety Car was called for Esteban Ocon’s retirement. Lance, who had moved from P19 to P17, swiftly switched to a new set of Mediums.
Following a late-race Safety Car for a rear-tyre failure for Max Verstappen, Lance, having switched from the Mediums to Softs , was able to fight back to consolidate P13 at the flag.
Lance: “It was a really difficult day out there. The contact with Esteban [Ocon] on the first lap really ruined my race and I had significant damage to the front wing. It's a shame because I was able to make up a couple of places at the start.
After the contact, we came in at the end of the first lap and switched to the hard tyre, but we knew that without a really disrupted race, it was going to be tough to make up many places because it’s so hard to overtake here.
At the final pitstop, I had really cold brakes and that meant I overshot the pit box. I’m really glad to hear that my mechanic is OK – that’s the most important thing. There’s not a lot of positives to take from today, so onwards and upwards now. I’ll work hard to turn the corner in Turkey.”
Formula One returns to Istanbul Park in Turkey on the 13-15 November for the 14th round of the 2020 season, where Lance will be making his debut at the circuit and it's now fabled Turn 8.
Turkish Grand Prix
November 17, 2020
Lance Stroll took his first Pole Position in Formula One at the Turkish Grand Prix, after a fantastic performance in wet conditions. The Canadian led most of the Grand Prix before tyre graining derailed his victory challenge.