Nico Rosberg believes if Lance Stroll cannot narrow his deficit to Fernando Alonso, the Canadian will make the call to “go and do something else” before he’s sacked by Aston Martin.
Although it’s fair to say Stroll’s 2023 season didn’t get off to the best start, the driver breaking bones in a pre-season cycling crash, he still impressed in the opening rounds although his points-scoring finishes weren’t on a par with Alonso’s podiums.
But as the season has progressed, instead of closing the gap to the Spaniard and also challenging for the occasional top-three result, Stroll has fallen further away from his teammate.
Nico Rosberg questions ‘what’s happened’ to Lance Stroll
Scoring just 12 points in the last seven races to Alonso’s 71, the Canadian trails his teammate by 123 points. Aside from the Williams and Haas gaps, it is the largest percentage deficit between teammates on this year’s grid.
It’s also cost Aston Martin in the championship with the early-season P2 holders having fallen to fourth place behind Mercedes and Ferrari.
“Of course, it’s fundamental,” Rosberg told the Sky Sports podcast. “And I’m not really sure what’s happened to Lance Stroll there because he’s a very decent driver. He showed in the beginning of the season how he can stay close to Fernando. When Fernando’s third, Lance was fifth or sixth.
“So I’m not really sure what’s happened to him there but he’s really in a difficult phase now.”
And it’s one that Rosberg believes is hampering Aston Martin’s on-track performances as the team can only rely on one driver to get it right.
“I think long-term for Aston, they can’t really allow themselves to have one driver who’s that far off,” he continued. “So either Lance gets back to where he can be and where he should be, or they’re gonna have to start thinking about changing, changing things around there with a second driver.
“Fernando needs to be pushed. The set-up work is much better when there are two drivers who are on it, it has a whole different dynamic. So it’s very important to have two drivers who are very quick.”
Rosberg believes Stroll would jump before he’s pushed
Stroll’s arrears to Alonso have led to speculation Aston Martin may be looking elsewhere for a 2024 driver, although team boss Mike Krack has denied this, insisting the Canadian will continue with the team next season.
Rosberg, however, reckons if Stroll cannot close the gap to his teammate, he’ll be the one to make the call to walk away.
“It’s impossible for me to judge,” he said of the team potentially axing the driver.
“Probably it would more be Lance saying ‘Hey, you know what? I think I should go and do something else’ if he continues to struggle the way he is at the moment?
“It’s a really difficult situation to judge from the outside. I think the easiest would be if Lance Stroll finds a way back to where he has been and where he can be, which is not too far from Fernando.”
It was recently suggested Stroll could swap Formula 1 for tennis, but the Canadian laughed that off.
“Well, if I’m going to go on tour, I’d better work on my backhand a little bit, because I don’t think I’m quite at that level yet,” he told the media, including PlanetF1.com.
“I mean, I like to think I’m pretty good. But I don’t know if I’m ready to go up against [Novak] Djokovic and [Carlos] Alcaraz just yet.
“I haven’t really thought about it, picking up tennis as a career.”