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The Race F1 Podcast

Is Lance Stroll holding Aston Martin back?

Sun Jun 25 2023

Lance Stroll's Early Days in Racing

00:02 - 07:00

  • Lance Stroll and Max Verstappen did their first ever car race together in the United States.
  • They both participated in a winter series funded by Stroll under the auspices of Ferrari.
  • The winter series had some good benchmark drivers, which attracted both Verstappen and Stroll.

Lance Stroll's Performance in 2023

06:39 - 13:05

  • Stroll is currently eighth in the World Championship with 37 points.
  • He has had two DNFs, one of which was his fault and the other was due to an engine failure.
  • Stroll is the lowest scoring driver among the top four teams and has not finished on the podium yet.
  • His average finishing gap to teammate Fernando Alonso is 23 seconds.
  • Stroll has only outqualified Alonso once, and that was when Alonso damaged his car during qualifying.

Stroll's Performance Compared to Alonso

12:37 - 19:14

  • Stroll had a chance to beat Alonso in the last race, but he was hampered by self-inflicted damage.
  • Over the first eight races of 2023, Stroll is nowhere near Alonso's level.
  • Stroll's best performance this season was in Bahrain where he did a good job despite not being fully fit.
  • There is a disconnect between Stroll suddenly not battling against adversity and performing worse than when it looked like he would struggle at the start of the season.

Stroll's Driving Style and Evolution

18:47 - 25:09

  • Stroll is uncompromising in battle and has not evolved away from that style of driving.
  • Verstappen has evolved and changed his approach to be less uncompromising.
  • Stroll is an experienced driver with 130 Grand Prix races under his belt.
  • There are questions about Stroll's potential and whether he can consistently perform at a high level.
  • Stroll's junior career was successful but in controlled environments with the best team.
  • He is a slightly shaky qualifier but a pretty assured racer who can hold his own in midfield.
  • However, he does not have that extra little bit when faced with drivers like Fernando Alonso.

Stroll's Performance and Potential

24:40 - 30:58

  • Stroll is not able to develop consistency or evolve in a way where his baseline performance is consistently edging upwards.
  • At his current level of performance, Stroll would not qualify for the seat alongside Fernando Alonso if we remove the nepotistic element of his dad owning Aston Martin.
  • Stroll almost feels like a driver who has reached the limit of refinement in his game.
  • Stroll doesn't force issues during races; races happen around him.
  • There have been opportunities for Stroll to win races, but he hasn't delivered when given those chances.
  • Stroll isn't bringing enough technical understanding or ability to push car development forward compared to Alonso.

Stroll's Performance Compared to Vettel

30:30 - 37:06

  • Lance Stroll is not accessing the level of performance that matches his teammate, Sebastian Vettel.
  • Stroll's performance level is similar to Pastor Maldonado with a trimmed tail.
  • Stroll's peaks are not stunningly good and he averages out as the 15th best driver in Formula 1.
  • There has been no significant change in Lance Stroll's performance over the past four or five years.
  • It is difficult to be Fernando Alonso's teammate, but Stroll needs to be closer to his level.

Stroll's Motivation and Team Dynamics

36:47 - 43:10

  • Lance Stroll lacks the same motivation as other drivers who have to beat their teammate to save their career.
  • Drivers in motorsport have different levels of support, but Lance Stroll's situation affects the team dynamic.
  • The team bends over backwards to talk up Lance Stroll, and there is no accentuation of his negatives.
  • Stroll is not keeping anyone off the grid who should be on it, but he is below the level of the car he is driving.
  • In a tighter championship battle, Stroll will be massively found out and so will Aston Martin.

Future Scenarios for Lance Stroll

42:46 - 49:29

  • There are two potential routes for Lance Stroll ever leaving this team.
  • The first one is Lance Stroll going to Lawrence or to Aston Martin and saying he's not digging it anymore.
  • The second one would be the team deciding to drop Lance Stroll, which would come either as a decision Lauren stroll is involved in as the current co-owner or in some hypothetical future situation where the team is no longer co-woman by Lauren stroll.
  • Laurent Stroll's desire and commitment to turn Aston Martin into a world championship winning Formula One team will have to trump his desire to prop up his son's career because he doesn't see how the two marry together.
  • As the team evolves, there will be drivers available who are a definite upgrade over Lance Stroll.
  • Stroll has time still to progress, but based on everything we've seen over the first six and a bit seasons, I don't think he's going to get in 2025, 2026 to the level where he isn't the biggest problem that Aston Martin has in order to take that final step.

Aston Martin's Decision and Ambitions

49:15 - 56:21

  • Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll faces a difficult decision of choosing between his son Lance and the team's ambitions.
  • The ultimate goal is to have one driver win the WDC, which doesn't necessarily have to be Lance Stroll.
  • Aston Martin's current WDC driver is Fernando Alonso, but Charles Leclerc or Lando Norris could also become potential WDC drivers for the team in the future.
  • If Aston Martin hired Adrian Newey on top of Dan Fallows, they could potentially reverse Red Bull's performance advantage.
  • Sergio Perez is currently underperforming in the second Red Bull car, but this may change if Mercedes and Ferrari start performing better.
  • There is a risk that having Lance Stroll as a driver could disadvantage Aston Martin commercially and cost them both the Constructors Championship and Driver's Title in certain scenarios.
  • Aston Martin has a weakness in its driver line-up that needs to be addressed if they want to make the final step towards success.
  • It would be beneficial for Aston Martin to poach great drivers from teams with worse cars to strengthen themselves and weaken their rivals.

Possible Future Scenarios for Lance Stroll

55:51 - 1:02:32

  • Marco Andretti stepped away from Andretti Motorsport team owned by his father Michael due to a slump in form.
  • It was Marco's decision and not unilateral or pushed by Michael.
  • A similar scenario may happen with Lance Stroll if he doesn't improve significantly.
  • Lance may decide to do something different as he is only 24 years old.
  • There is a possibility that Lawrence Stroll's dream and passion are being lived out through Lance, who may not be all the way into Formula One.
  • Lance Jolls is a better driver than Walter Grubmiller Jr. was, but Lance needs to show that he wants to be the absolute best he can possibly be and not just a good Grand Prix driver.
  • From a wider F1 standpoint, it's not great that we either know what year every contract runs through or are at the very least very interested to find out. It's also ideally we would not have this kind of thing in Formula One.

Conclusion on Lance Stroll's Performance

1:02:02 - 1:06:56

  • Lance Stroll needs to show he's determined to prove himself 100%.
  • Stroll isn't performing at the level of the Aston Martin team and should be on a one-year ticket.
  • He should be downgraded from where he is and dropped or at risk of being dropped after this season to a lower team.
  • There is a bad imbalance in the current driver market.
  • Stroll doesn't show any obvious sign that he belongs at the front of the grid.
  • His dad thinks he can be world champion, but it doesn't match with reality based on everything we've seen.
  • The question about Stroll's performance will continue as his team builds towards being a championship challenger.