Lance Stroll thought he could have split the Red Bulls in Tuscan Grand Prix qualifying had he not been compromised by yellow flags on his last run.
The Canadian was thwarted in his bid to climb higher on the Mugello grid when Esteban Ocon spun his Renault towards the end of Q3, which meant the cars following behind on the road had to lift – ruining their chance of a faster time.
In the end, Stroll finished P7 but will start the race P6 after his Racing Point team-mate Sergio Perez was demoted one place for hitting Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo after leaving the pits during FP2.
But as well as fifth-placed Charles Leclerc, Stroll thought that with a clear run he could also have outpaced Alex Albon who was 0.445sec behind his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen in P4.
“I don’t really think it was such a good qualifying,” said Stroll. “I got a yellow flag at the end so I didn’t actually get to complete a proper lap in Q3, just a banker at the beginning.
“I think there was definitely a lot more to get out of it. I would have improved a lot. I’m frustrated we got that yellow flag and didn’t get an opportunity to improve.
“Fifth, maybe fourth was possible. I think we could have been pretty close to one of the Red Bulls.”
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Stroll was especially disappointed because overtaking is expected to be difficult at Mugello.
He added: “We’ll have to try and get a good start, get a good run down to Turn 1. It’s not going to be a very exciting race, I believe it’s going to be a track-position race, so qualifying was important. But we’ll try to get a good start and go from there.”
Stroll’s team-mate Perez, who will be replaced by Sebastian Vettel at the end of the season, was more satisfied, especially as, unlike his colleague, he was without upgrades on his car which he will not receive until the next race in Russia.
“It’s a good result,” said the Mexican of his own performance. “I’m giving back the position happily to my team-mate, but the penalty I think was a bit harsh given how the pit-lane is.
“We didn’t seem to have quite the pace we wanted today but I think my lap in Q3 was good, putting everything together.
“I think there’s plenty to play for tomorrow with a good start and a good strategy. I think it’s going to be very strategic, a lot of unknowns tomorrow.
“The upgraded package on Lance’s car looks pretty good. I’m getting it for the next race so I think we should be able to close the gap to the Red Bulls and be stronger in Sochi.”
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