By Alan Baldwin
(Reuters) - Canadian conditions suited the Canadian in Saturday's Turkish Grand Prix qualifying as Lance Stroll celebrated a first Formula One pole position on a slippery surface others likened to an ice rink.
"I grew up driving on ice, in my parking lot back home and drifting around, sliding around. It’s got to be in my bones somewhere, I guess," said the Montreal-born Racing Point driver as the shock result sank in.
He was the first Canadian driver to take pole since Jacques Villeneuve on his way to the 1997 world championship with Williams.
The pole, secured with a timely switch from wet tyres to intermediates at the end of the session, put the 22-year-old comfortably ahead of mighty Mercedes with Red Bull's Max Verstappen alongside on the front row.
It also ended a difficult period for a youngster whose wealthy father owns the team as well as Canada's Mont Tremblant circuit.
Stroll finished third in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Sept. 6 but has not scored since.
He missed the Eifel Grand Prix through sickness in October and tested positive for COVID-19.
The Canadian crashed out of the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello, on the weekend after Monza, and tangled with McLaren's Lando Norris in Portugal.
His team's technical director Andrew Green had suggested that maybe Stroll needed "a bit of a hug" to recover lost confidence.
"It’s been a rough run for me since Mugello really, since Monza," agreed Stroll.
"We had the puncture in Mugello when we were in the hunt for the podium and contact in Russia, COVID and other things. It’s really been a rough run but to bounce back today with pole, it’s so awesome.
"I do enjoy these conditions. Rain is opportunity. It mixes things up, it spices things up. You never really know what to expect when it rains."
Stroll said he just took it lap by lap.
"Once we were on the intermediates at the end of Q3 (the final phase), I really felt like we were on the right tyre and I had the confidence to attack the lap and put it together and put it on pole."
Verstappen will fancy his chances for Sunday, and Mercedes could come back stronger in a race that looks likely to crown Lewis Hamilton as a seven times world champion.
"They have a much quicker race car. That’s just the reality," Stroll said of the top two. "But that doesn’t mean we can’t score a bunch of points.
"We’re fighting for that third place in the constructors' and tomorrow’s a great opportunity with both cars starting up at the front to pick up some big points."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris)