Lance Stroll said it is impossible for an F1 driver to be competitive in a car they cannot gel with, which was the case for a chunk of F1 2023.
Stroll was widely praised for simply making it to the grid for the Bahrain F1 2023 season-opener following a pre-season cycling accident, but as the campaign went on and Stroll struggled to contend with the performance level of his new team-mate, two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso, the pressure began to mount.
Questions were asked of Stroll’s future in F1 as the season rolled on after the summer break, at a time where Aston Martin in general were struggling to get anywhere near the lofty heights of earlier in the season, Alonso having featured on the podium six times across the opening eight rounds.
Lance Stroll tells critics impossible to perform without right base
Aston Martin would admit that they got lost in their upgrades for the AMR23 and hit reverse on that path, Stroll’s performances drastically improving in the latter rounds of the season, including back-to-back P5 finishes in Brazil and Las Vegas.
That, Stroll said, showed what he can do when he has a car underneath him that suits and allows him to demonstrate his abilities.
“It feels good to do well, for sure,” said Stroll of his late-season improvement, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“But I knew that if I feel the platform working well underneath me, and I can drive the car freely without kind of dealing and driving around things that inherently bothered me in the car, I’d be at a good level and I’d get the most out of myself.
“And I know that for a few months with changes that were made, there were weekends where I just couldn’t get into that place where I felt free in the car, and I can just drive at my best. Because it just wasn’t behaving the way I wanted.
“And at this level when you have those issues, when the car is just not behaving how you want inherently, and it doesn’t agree with your driving style, it won’t work.
“And I think in those moments you can’t put the doubt on yourself, it’s like you just have to know that when it’s going to be there and it’s going to behave the way you want, it’s going to go well, and when it’s not there, it’s not going to behave the way you want, it’s going to be more challenging.
“That’s F1, the drivers are all very high level, you can never be competitive if you’re not comfortable and confident in your car and just driving freely and it’s working. I think that’s my perception of it.”
Stroll ultimately finished the season with 74 points to Alonso’s 206, failing to make the podium against Alonso’s eight visits, though the Canadian would point out various instances of misfortune across the season that also impacted those metrics.
“It’s been a season with a lot of bad luck, a lot of missed opportunity,” said Stroll. “I don’t like using the words bad luck, but I think missed opportunities.
“But I guess it’s bad luck when I think about the failures and stuff. We had races like Saudi running P4, engine problem, Monaco qualy, hitting debris. Damage to the car in Q2 and starting from mid-pack in Monaco, you lose your weekend. I think back to places like Suzuka, having a good race, rear wing failure.
“In Zandvoort we missed the pit stop when the rain came down, we stayed out on track, it was a wrong decision. We were in a good place to score big points there. But I think that’s part of the season.”
Alonso and Stroll return to action as Aston Martin team-mates for F1 2024, looking to ensure that the team betters its P5 finish in last season’s Constructors’ Championship.
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