Aston Martin silly season rumour starts as Lance Stroll exit prediction made – F1 news round-up

Henry Valantine
Lance Stroll alongside Nico Hulkenberg. F1 News.

A split-screen image of Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll and Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg.

Wednesday’s F1 news selection sees the summer silly season begin in earnest, with the driver market looking to spark into life for 2024 and beyond.

August 2 also marks a special day in the calendar for everyone who happened to be on social media and witness Oscar Piastri single-handedly blow up Twitter (and Alpine’s best-laid plans to replace Fernando Alonso) in one fell swoop.

There’s plenty to get into as ever, so let’s dive into today’s selection of F1 news.

Silly season starts with ‘Hulkenback’ to Aston Martin rumour

Nico Hulkenberg was spotted entering the Aston Martin motorhome as the Spa weekend unfolded, with the German having served as the team’s reserve driver for several seasons during his time off the grid and fulfilled a few stand-in appearances during the Covid-interrupted seasons.

He could well have been saying ‘hello’ to a few former colleagues, having also been a race driver at Team Silverstone in the past, but with the F1 Nation podcast recording at that moment, that set tongues wagging about a potential reunion there.

And former F1 driver Timo Glock has now joined calls potentially linking Hulkenberg, who has excelled since joining Haas this year, with a possible Aston Martin seat in 2025 while speaking to German media, though he is widely expected to sign a contract extension with Haas for 2024.

Glock claims Hulkenberg is “definitely on the list” for team boss Mike Krack as potential options in the future, as the team look at life potentially look at options for life after Fernando Alonso, or even Lance Stroll…

Read more: F1 silly season: Driver linked with sensational return to Aston Martin

Crofty predicts Lance Stroll may choose to leave Aston Martin

Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft made a prediction that Lance Stroll may in fact decide that Formula 1 life may not be for him come the end of next season, and move into “something that fulfils him more.”

With the Canadian struggling to compete against Fernando Alonso in the first half of the 2023 season, Croft wonders about where his motivation may be at the moment, following a sterling start to the year after recovering from broken bones in his hand to drive to a P6 finish in Bahrain.

“I do wonder, he’s the one driver on the grid that you think: ‘You’re guaranteed a job as long as your dad is there’, and we’ve never actually talked about contracts for Lance Stroll,” Croft told the Sky Sports F1 podcast.

“We’ve never looked at his future elsewhere, but I just have a little feeling that in about a year and a half’s time, Lance Stroll will race his last race in Formula 1 and go off and do something else.

Read more: David Croft makes huge Lance Stroll exit prediction with ‘mojo lost’

Sandbagging questions sent Max Verstappen’s way after huge pace advantage

After biding his time to climb up the field from sixth, Max Verstappen was able to fly clear of the rest of the field when he was able to get into the lead on Sunday.

With that, there were questions about whether or not he and Red Bull were holding a little bit in reserve during the race before he pulled out a gap at well over a second per lap at one time in the race.

He was able to explain though, telling media including PlanetF1.com: “It’s the peak of the tyres, it’s draining the battery to really do the best lap you can, and if you keep that pace up you just degrade your tyres.

“The whole race, you are always pace managing – you can ask any driver, they all drive like that – because if you keep doing what you try to achieve on a lap like that, you [will have to] pit within five laps again for new tyres.

“I could have won by more, I could have won by less. It’s strategy-related, tyre-related, but I think how we did it worked really well.”

Read more: Max Verstappen grilled as more Red Bull sandbagging questions posed

Mercedes reveal reasons behind Lewis Hamilton/George Russell SQ3 squabble

Both Mercedes drivers were caught in a bit of confusion during the sprint shootout at the Belgian Grand Prix at the weekend, with Russell seemingly compromising Hamilton’s lap.

Luckily, chief technical officer Mike Elliott was on hand to offer a bit more insight into what happened and what the Silver Arrows will learn moving forward.

“We were asking our drivers to speed up, they thought they had less time available than they really did and as a result of that we ended up with our two cars too close together,” he explained.

“As it happened, I think a number of cars were disadvantaged. A number of the cars were far too close together, so we weren’t the only ones that were struggling.

“Unfortunately for us, our two drivers tripping over each other pretty much meant that we didn’t get the laps that we wanted and therefore didn’t get the sprint qualifying result we really hoped for.

Read more: Mercedes explain what happened between Hamilton and Russell in SQ3 squabble

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Finally, Ha-Piastri-versary, everybody

Get it? Ha-Piastri-versary? Never mind.

Anyway, August 2 marks a year to the day since Oscar Piastri sent the entire world of F1 into a spin when he wrote on Twitter (now called X, thanks Elon), that he would not be driving for Alpine – as had been announced a few hours earlier.

We’ve recounted the events as they happened, with the benefit of hindsight and now knowing how things unfolded from afar, starting from the moment Sebastian Vettel joined social media.

That’s when we should have spotted suspicious things were afoot, in fairness…

Read more: The day Oscar Piastri sent Formula 1 into epic Twitter meltdown