Stroll admits that Alonso is playing at a very high level and has undoubtedly admitted defeat already in the team mate battle at Aston Martin, further reinforcing the notion that the Canadian driver is soon to end his time in Formula 1.
Lance Stroll is the first to admit that his team-mate Fernando Alonso has been faster than him in the first half of the season, with the Canadian noting that the Spaniard has not made a single mistake in the first twelve races of the year, and is on another level compared.
Alonso immediately fast
Fernando Alonso – who joined Aston Martin in 2023 as Sebastian Vettel’s replacement – was immediately competitive in the AMR23 and managed six podium finishes in eight races, before being more discreet in the final races before F1’s summer break. The two-time world champion nevertheless finished third in the drivers’ championship.
Lance Stroll, for his part, has had a much more discreet season than Fernando Alonso, the Canadian having experienced more difficult races with, in particular, a withdrawal due to a mechanical problem as in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, which leaves the Canadian more than 100 points behind his team-mate before the Dutch Grand Prix.
Stroll the ‘pay driver’
To make matters worse, the debate over his status as a “paid driver” or “daddy’s boy” [the Aston Martin team belongs to his father Lawrence Stroll] has never ceased among fans, but Stroll insists that he no longer pays any attention to criticism or negative comments about him.
“I don’t pay too much attention to that. I know myself and I know when I’m doing a good job and getting the most out of the car,” Stroll explained to Motorsportmagazine.
“Whether I’m in front or behind, I know when I need to pat myself on the back and I’m the first to criticise myself constructively, learn from it and come back stronger.”
“There were a lot of races where I felt like I got the most out of the car, and he [Alonso] was a bit quicker, but that’s how it is. There were other times when I drove really well and I was ahead of him several times. So, yes, I’m proud of that.”
Alonso ‘on another level’
Lance concedes that Alonso is on another level in comparison, never really making any mistakes.
“But of course he’s been at a very high level all year, he’s made very few mistakes. – No mistakes – and you have to give him credit for that because he’s driven at an extremely high level and really got the best out of the car every weekend.”
“But as I said, I’m staying focused on my own stuff. I don’t listen to all the noise that comes from outside, because this is F1.”
“When you have a bad day, there’s always a reason for it, it’s a bit normal. I think that’s how F1 is from my experience over the years.”
“I just know that when I get the best out of myself, I’m happy with it, I’m proud of it. On the days when I don’t, I’m the first to admit it and say to myself ‘I’ve got to come back stronger next week’.”
“He [Alonso] has been playing at a very high level all season and he’s delivered an A+ performance every week, whereas I’ve had a few A’s, but I’ve also had some C’s and that’s been a bit difficult. But there are still a lot of races to go.”
Stroll set to quit F1?
Such admissions of a performance difference as a team mate is normally unheard of in Formula 1, reinforcing F1 commentator David Croft’s theory some weeks ago. He raised the possibility of Lance Stroll potentially leaving the sport within the next 18 months.
Throughout his career, he has faced criticism and pressure from some who believe he secured his seat primarily due to his father Lawrence Stroll’s wealth, as he heavily invested in the teams Lance has driven for, and currently owns the Aston Martin Formula One Team.
“Nobody ever talks about Stroll contracts…”
Speaking on Sky Sports’ podcast, Croft expressed his thoughts on Stroll’s future in the sport, saying, “He’s the one driver on the grid that you think ‘you are guaranteed a job as long as your dad is there’. We’ve never actually talked about contracts for Lance Stroll.”
While some argue that Stroll earned his place on merit, showcasing his talent with victories in both Formula 3 and Formula 4 before entering F1 and achieving a podium in his debut season, he still faces skepticism from some quarters.
Motivation for F1 gone?
In 2020, Stroll had his most successful season, securing a pole position and two further podiums, finishing eleventh in the Drivers’ Championship with 75 points. However, this year has been more challenging for him, despite having a competitive car alongside teammate Fernando Alonso, who currently sits third in the Drivers’ Championship.
Croft noted that Stroll’s motivation seems to have waned during the 2023 season, suggesting that he might be considering other options outside Formula 1.
The performance of the AMR23 car has also dipped since the start of the season, making it harder for Stroll to secure significant points. While he showed promise at the season opener in Bahrain, finishing a solid P6 despite injury, Croft believes he has since “lost his way a little bit” and hopes to see the motivated Stroll from the beginning of the season return.
While no official announcement has been made about Stroll’s future, Croft’s observations have sparked discussions about the driver’s potential plans beyond Formula 1.
Fans and analysts will be keeping a close eye on Stroll’s performances and developments in the coming months to see how his career unfolds.
It was a challenging start to @McLarenF1's 2023 campaign….
We take a look back at the papaya team's highs and lows thus far 🎬👇#F1
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 15, 2023