The drinks are on Lance Stroll after Turn 3 collision with Charles Leclerc

Jamie Woodhouse
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, head down. Australia, April 2023.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc walking with his head down. Australia, April 2023.

Lance Stroll joked that a beer is coming Charles Leclerc’s way after the Ferrari driver spared him of blame for their Melbourne collision.

It was Leclerc who triggered the first Safety Car appearance on the opening lap of an eventful Australian GP, the driver spinning off and out of the race at Turn 3, though having done so following a whack from Stroll in the Aston Martin.

But when a frustrated Leclerc faced the media, he did not point the finger at Stroll, instead agreeing with the stewards in reflecting on that collision as a racing incident.

Additional reporting by Michael Lamonato

“Turn 1 I took it easy, I didn’t want to take any risk,” said Leclerc. “Turn 3 I honestly wasn’t really planning to do any overtakes there but Lance had to brake quite early because Fernando [Alonso] had to because of the cars in front, so I saw there was a gap on the outside.

“I went for it, unfortunately Fernando had to slow even more down the car and Lance found himself between Fernando and myself and we had contact.

“I’m not blaming it on Lance, I think it’s a racing incident, but just very frustrating because the end result is I’m going home with basically 0 points.”

Stroll agreed with Leclerc’s verdict that it was a racing incident, and joked that he will reward him with a beer for saying so.

“Ah that was nice of him, I’ll buy him a beer tonight,” said Stroll with a smile as he spoke to media including PlanetF1.com.

“Honestly it was a racing incident I think. This track is narrow, going into Turn 3 I was braking in the middle of him and Fernando, I didn’t move and then I kind of got sandwiched and then we made contact.

“It was unfortunate for him and lucky for me that I didn’t pick up damage.”

Stroll then remained in the fight, though encountered heartbreak, at least initially, later in the race when he thought he had thrown away a podium opportunity, the Aston Martin driver going for a trip through the gravel at Turn 3 after the second Safety Car restart.

That sent him to the back of the pack, but with the red flags then appearing again to cover the latest round of carnage, the final restart for one lap to the chequered flag behind the Safety Car happened with the cars in their order from the last restart.

For Stroll then, it meant he was back up and safe in P4 to see out the race.

“Sadness, disappointment to then finally crossing the finish line very happy with the result,” he said.

“I was pretty heartbroken in Turn 3 with a couple of laps to go, I picked up a front-right lock defending from Carlos and thought I threw away the podium.

“The tyres were just ice cold and I already felt it coming out of Turn 2 just picking up the power, big snap and then heading to Turn 3 I was defending from Carlos who was on my outside and then I was on the dirty part of the track, and as soon as I touched the brake the front-right just started locking up and there was no slowing down the car.”

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Stroll knew though that he was fortunate just to have made it out of the gravel trap, something Red Bull’s Sergio Perez had not managed in Q1 the day before.

“Lucky to even bring it back to be honest because I saw like yesterday Checo got beached there, so we were lucky to get the car back to be honest,” Stroll concluded.

Stroll’s 12 points for P4 lifts him to P6 in the Drivers’ Championship, where he is tied with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on 20.

It also meant that combined with Alonso’s P3, Aston Martin have created a nine-point gap over Mercedes in P2 in the Constructors’ standings.