Felipe Drugovich is in pole position to replace Lance Stroll in Bahrain GP if necessary

Michelle Foster
Aston Martin's Felipe Drugovich, September 2022.

Aston Martin's Felipe Drugovich, September 2022.

One of two Aston Martin reserve drivers, Stoffel Vandoorne concedes if Lance Stroll cannot race in Bahrain it will most likely be Felipe Drugovich who replaces him at the season-opening race.

Stroll is out of the pre-season Bahrain tests, the Canadian injured in a cycling accident in Spain.

But while his injuries have been worded as “minor”, it remains uncertain as to whether the driver will be in the car come the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix as there’s less than a week before the end of testing and the start of the Sakhir weekend.

Aston Martin are staying pretty tight-lipped on his condition, confirming to PlanetF1.com and other selected media in Bahrain that Stroll is suffering from a wrist injury.

But should Aston Martin require a replacement come next weekend, yes the first race is as soon as next weekend, it will be Drugovich and not his fellow Aston Martin reserve Vandoorne who joins Fernando Alonso on the grid.

The simple reason being Drugovich will test the AMR23 during F1’s pre-season testing while Vandoorne is busy with his FE commitments.

“We discussed the situation,” Vandoorne, who is in Cape Town for the Formula E race, told RTBF. “I knew and the team knew it.

“I am taken by Formula E this weekend in Cape Town, I will not be able to participate in the tests in Bahrain unfortunately. And the race next Sunday? It is quite a difficult scenario for me.

“If Lance is not available, I wouldn’t be surprised if Felipe made the race.

“It’s a little frustrating for me, but on the other hand, you have to understand it.”

But, the former McLaren F1 driver admits: “He will have done all the tests, he will have had the best preparation.”

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As for his extended commitments, at least for the first 15 races of the season Vandoorne will also be McLaren’s reserve driver, the Belgian racer added: “It’s not something new or different, there is a partnership between Aston Martin and McLaren.

“In terms of work, I won’t specifically do anything different for them. I’m there in case they need them at the GPs where I will be present.”

Vandoorne, though, may yet have another opportunity as while he will be present in Bahrain, he’ll also be in the Aston Martin garage in Saudi Arabia and Australia.

“I will be in Bahrain for the start of the F1 championship, then in Jeddah and Melbourne,” he said.

But while his focus is largely split between Formula E and Formula 1, the Belgian racer is also branching out.

“There is also my reserve role with Peugeot in the WEC,” he confirmed. “I was able to test the car last week in Aragon. Further tests are planned.

“It was my first experience in LMH. It was very cool to get back behind the wheel of a prototype. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It went very well, I quickly felt comfortable with the car.

“I hope to have the opportunity in the future to participate in a race and to be at the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans again.”