F1 commentator Peter Windsor has tipped Lawrence Stroll to seek a “very quick” exit strategy from Aston Martin if son Lance decides to walk away from his F1 struggles.
Stroll’s difficulties alongside two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso in 2023 have raised the possibility that the 24-year-old – eliminated in Q1 at each of the last four rounds – could quit the sport at the end of the season.
That would lead to doubts over the very future of the Aston Martin team, owned by father Lawrence for the last five years.
Lance and Lawrence Stroll set to walk away from Aston Martin and F1 together?
At last weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix, a report by German publication F1 Insider claimed Mr Stroll is considering selling the team to the newly established Saudi Arabia state fund with one of Aston Martin’s title sponsors, the Saudi oil firm Aramco, leading negotiations over a potential €800million deal.
The article claimed that “reputable sources” have indicated Mr Stroll has lost the motivation to keep funding his son’s career, with the driver’s own mother reportedly applying pressure on Stroll Jr to end his racing career at the end of 2023 after a number of accidents, including a big hit in qualifying at last month’s Singapore GP which ruled him out of the race.
Former title-winning Williams team manager Windsor – who in July hailed Stroll as “the greatest pay driver of all time” – believes the father will not stick around if the son decides to quit.
And he pointed to Aston Martin’s recent financial report as evidence that all is not well at the Silverstone-based team despite their improved on-track performance and the opening of a state-of-the-art new factory in 2023, with Alonso recording a total of seven podium finishes.
Speaking via a recent YouTube stream, Windsor said: “I presume we’re going to get some questions about the future of Aston given how badly Lance Stroll’s season is going at the moment and how long Lawrence Stroll’s going to be motivated to stay doing what he’s doing.
“We saw Aston Martin posting a $53million loss for the 2022 Formula 1 season – it’s quite a lot of money, isn’t it?
“It’s not as if Lawrence Stroll is pouring in his own money – he’s got a massive number of investors and leverage going on and banks and so forth – but nonetheless it’s quite a lot of money for a team that was doing reasonably well.
“And, of course, he had to buy the whole thing in the first place and spend all the money on the upgrades to the factory.
“It begs the question of what would happen if Lance just completely lost interest in Formula 1 and he’s so disheartened by it all and says to his dad: ‘No, I just don’t want to race anymore. I want to go rallying or skiing or whatever.’
“What’s his dad going to do? People say he’ll take on a different role then, he’ll be team principal and Lance will still be part of the team and Lawrence will make it bigger and better and get faster drivers.
“I don’t think he will. I think he’ll want an exit strategy very quickly.
“I think he’ll want to get his money back and make a little bit on top and I think he’ll get out of it.
“That’s what I think will happen, because he’s only in it in the first place to see his son achieve the results that he, the father, believes the son is capable of achieving.
“Right now, it’s not going well for Lance, is it?”
Stroll has enjoyed a certain level of success since arriving on the grid with Williams as a teenager in 2017, becoming the youngest-ever driver to start on the front row at Monza in his debut season before setting pole position for the 2020 Turkish GP in tricky conditions.
He has three podium finishes to his name in almost seven full seasons, but remains without a top-three finish for almost three years.
He has failed to finish higher than fourth in the 17 races held in 2023 to date, registering his best finish at the third round in Australia.