Aston Martin’s driver Lance Stroll will not take part in the 2023 F1 winter test. The Canadian was involved in an accident while cycling in Spain. The Aston Martin team has confirmed ahead of the 2023 winter test that its starting driver, Canadian Lance Stroll, has withdrawn from the pre-season test (February 23-25) following a cycling accident in Spain.
However, the statement released by the team has created speculation that Stroll’s in juries are far worse than the team suggests.
Aston Martin cagey over Stroll’s condition
“During pre-season training on a bike in Spain, Lance Stroll was involved in a minor accident and suffered injuries that will mean he will not be taking part in pre-season testing in Bahrain,” the Aston Martin team said in a short statement on Monday.
“However, Lance expects to make a speedy recovery and return to driving. His ability to return to the cockpit will be assessed on a daily basis and the team will issue an update ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.”
“The team wishes Lance a speedy recovery and looks forward to his usual energy and commitment to the team.”
Ironic similar injury to team mate Alonso
Ironically Lance Strolls new team mate Fernando Alonso also had his pre-season preparations interrupted when he was knocked of his bike early in 2021.
The double world champion had to endure reconstructive surgery on his jaw which involved two titanium implants being fitted. Yet Alonso’s incident was four weeks before winter testing and six weeks prior to the first race weekend of the season.
Unconfirmed reports suggest Stroll has been seen leaving hospital with a cast on his arm, which would suggest he will not be fit to race in just over a week at the F1 season opener in Bahrain.
Experienced F1 journo calls out Aston Martin secrecy
Respected F1 journalist, Joe Saward, who has been covering the sport since the late 1980’s has questioned why Aston Martin have not given a more complete explanation as to Lance Stroll’s injuries.
“If a driver hurts himself it is best to tell everything or nothing. Saying something is wrong but not saying what that is gives the impression that there is a secret. If Lance Stroll has no real problem, it is best to explain or people will speculate…,” tweeted Saward.
Some commentators raise the issue of privacy, but Joe has no truck with that point of view.
“If you are a Grand Prix driver, you take the money transfers and accept that privacy is a little compromised,” adds Saward.
Alonso set to benefit if Stroll’s injury
Each Pre-season F1 testing session has become vital to the drivers since their time in the car each has been cut from 4 days to just a day and a half.
Fernando Alonso is now set to benefit with increased amount of time in the car at the Bahrain test.
The Spaniard commented only last week at the launch of the AMR23, “This is the only sport in the world where you do one and a half days practice and then you’re into a world championship.”
1st reserve for Aston in E-Prix
If Stroll’s injuries do prevent him from competing at the first F1 race of the year, Aston Martin’s problems are compounded by the fact his natural replacement among the Aston Martin reserve drivers is racing in Formula E during the F1 test in Bahrain.
Ex-F1 driver Stofel Vandoorne is currently in South Africa preparing for this weekends E-Prix in Cape Town.
While Vandoorne would be available to race in the F1 grand prix at Sakhir the following weekend, its not ideal he would have to do so without any prior running in the car.
F2 champion Drugovitch may substitute
This could open the door for less Aston Martin’s inexperienced reserve driver Felipe Drugovitch who is the current Formula Two champion.
If Aston Martin continue to play the cars close to their chest the litmus test on Stroll’s state of health is as follows.
Should Fernando Alonso get the majority of test mileage, the team believe Stroll will be fit for the following race weekend.
If Drugovitch gets a 50/50 split or thereabouts on the testing driving duties, the team are clearly preparing him for the upcoming F1 race.
Vandoorne stand in suggests Stroll’s injuries serious
On the high drama end of the scale, if Stofel Vandoorne is withdrawn from Formula E and shares the testing with Fernando, clearly the team believe Lance may be out of his race seat for some time to come.
However, we Vandoorne to fill in for Stroll, Aston Martin could also complete one of their two mandatory young driver FP1 sessions by giving Drugovitch a Friday run out.
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Should Stroll be unable to participate in the opening GP as well, I reckon Drugovich would be the first choice despite not having any previous F1 racing experience like Vandoorne (although the latter’s is from pre-2022 aero cycle, which minimizes the usefulness) as he joined the team earlier & is more readily available for both testing & racing on the same location.
Strange that cycling seems to be more hazardous than F1 racing!