Speculation is rife in F1 circles that Canadian driver Lance Stroll could retire early from the sport for the 2023 season. Aston Martin, the team Stroll currently drives for, has been at the centre of these rumours, with insiders suggesting that the team is preparing for Stroll’s imminent departure.
Aston Martin has made a strong start to the 2023 Formula One season with an impressive six podium finishes in the first eight races. The standout performances were led by Fernando Alonso, while Lance Stroll consistently failed to keep up with his veteran team mate.
Since the summer, the team’s performance has been noticeably diminished. Apart from Alonso’s seventh podium at Zandvoort, their points have been few and far between.Aston Martin have been overtaken in the Constructors’ Championship by both Mercedes and Ferrari, and now find themselves fighting a resurgent McLaren for fourth place with just five races to go.
Lance Stroll points finger at the car
Lance Stroll has shed some light on the team’s problems. The Canadian driver points to the mid-season aerodynamic upgrades as the culprit. Although the upgrades were designed to improve the AMR23’s downforce and overall performance, they appear to have had the opposite effect.
Stroll said, “We’ve gone in some directions with the philosophy of aerodynamic upgrades that I don’t think have given us the step forward that we were hoping for.” and that “we’re trying to understand that and put some things on the car this season to fix that,”
He lamented that while the team had gained some overall downforce, it had come at the cost of making the car “harder to drive”, less predictable and less forgiving.
The team responds to Stroll comments
Aston Martin’s Team Principal Mike Krack also commented on the issue.He admitted that the team needed to identify the root causes before they could fix the problem.
“We have suspicions and indications,” Krack said. “That’s what Lance is talking about. But then we have to make the appropriate changes and see if it is confirmed that when you improve that, he improves,”
While Aston Martin grapples with its internal challenges, its closest rivals haven’t stood still. Teams such as McLaren have made significant progress, narrowing the performance gap and threatening Aston Martin’s position in the championship.
Stroll to exit the team early?
To understand the rumours, it’s important to look at the business side of the sport. Lance Stroll isn’t just another driver on the grid; he’s the son of billionaire Lawrence Stroll, who is a major shareholder in the Aston Martin brand. As such, Lance Stroll’s career has significant business implications for Aston Martin.
The 2023 season has not been particularly kind to Aston Martin, despite a promising start. Mid-season technical adjustments aimed at improving the aerodynamics and downforce of the AMR23 car backfired and had a significant impact on the team’s performance.
The subsequent decline in results and the lack of a clear path to address these performance issues could put Stroll under considerable pressure, both as a driver and as the son of a major investor in the team.
Aston Martin team members don’t rate Stroll
With a slump in performance and no immediate signs of recovery, it’s conceivable that Lance Stroll may be considering other career paths. Indeed this appears to be the case if team members’ mutterings to your honoured writer on the flight to Austin last night are to be believed.
He’s relatively young, wealthy and has a wide range of interests outside of racing. In these circumstances, a decision to retire early could open the door to various business ventures or even involvement in other forms of motorsport that are less demanding and scrutinised than Formula One.
It’s no secret that the team dynamics within Aston Martin have been tense, especially given the expectations at the start of the season. Indeed some of the aforementioned members of the Aston Martin team itself admitted that Lance was ‘sh!t’ and is likely to be retiring from F1 soon.
Stroll Senior might well believe that Lance’s early retirement could be a way for the team to reset, re-evaluate and possibly bring in a new talent who could potentially deliver the desired results. Furthermore, should Stroll decide to retire early, it would give Aston Martin plenty of time to find a replacement without the usual end of season rush.
Role of stakeholders
Another factor that could contribute to the speculation surrounding Stroll’s early retirement is stakeholder expectations.
Investors and sponsors who had high hopes for the Aston Martin team may be getting restless with the team’s lacklustre performance. If Lance Stroll were to step away from driving, it could act as a catalyst for major changes within the team, potentially appeasing concerned stakeholders.
Certainly, these are business decisions Lawrence Stroll would be fully used to dealing with.
While nothing has been confirmed, the rumours surrounding Lance Stroll’s possible early retirement from F1 in 2023 have a plausible basis. Given the team’s performance issues, business pressures and the young Canadian’s career prospects, Aston Martin may indeed be preparing for such a possibility.
MORE F1 NEWS: Sporting world reacts to Rory McIlroy’s F1 announcement
In a surprising and momentous move that has captured the attention of the sporting world, golf legend Rory McIlroy has ventured into Formula One as part owner of the Alpine Racing team.
The announcement has set social media ablaze, and the significance of the development cannot be overstated. McIlroy is not the only star athlete to invest; he joins a…READ MORE ON THIS STORY