Lawrence Stroll fires clear warning shot to F1 rivals after Aston Martin podium
Lawrence Stroll has warned Formula 1’s leading contenders that Aston Martin are here to stay after the team converted their pre-season promise into a podium in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Aston Martin have made a considerable leap forward for the 2023 season, with the AMR23 car allowing the team to join the battle at the front alongside Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
New signing Fernando Alonso claimed the team’s first podium in almost two years with third place at the Sakhir circuit as Stroll’s son Lance finished ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell in P6 to reinforce Aston Martin’s breakthrough.
Having acquired the Silverstone-based team in 2018, Stroll has made no secret of his determination to turn Aston Martin into consistent winners – and he hailed the 2023 season opener as a key step in his plans becoming reality.
He told Sky Sports F1: “Someone said how lucky we look in testing and I said, [in] many instances in my life, the harder I work, the luckier I get.
“I said a couple of years back we’re on a five-year journey to be fighting for World Championships. I think there were a lot of doubters when I said that and I can understand [in] the position we were sitting – still taking over from what was Force India, a bit of a conversion to Racing Point and then becoming Aston Martin.
“But I’ve made – we’ve made – significant changes. We’ve gone from 400 to 740 people. We’re building the greatest new state-of-the-art Formula  facility that we don’t move into until May 1, so the success of this year cannot be contributed to the facility.
“But I believe it’s a lot to do with my passion and vision to excite and stimulate everybody in the business. I’ve got Martin [Whitmarsh], got Dan [Fallows] got Eric [Blandin], got a lot of people to join, and we have a vision. We’re going to win. There’s a mission and we’re following what I said two years ago.
“This is the first indication, the first step we’ve taken. [It’s] early days – it’s the first race of the year – but it’s the first step we’ve taken in a journey and I couldn’t be more proud.
“Thank you to the whole team for delivering this incredible car and I’d also like to thank my son, who I’m obviously a very proud father [of] tonight.”
Stroll Jr’s participation in the Bahrain GP was plunged into doubt when he suffered a broken wrist and toe in a cycling accident shortly before the start of pre-season testing, with the 24-year-old fighting through the pain barrier to return to the cockpit for the start of the season.
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Stroll Sr admitted that he initially did not take his son’s plot for a swift return particularly seriously, adding: “Thirteen days ago, we were in surgery and Lance told me we’re going to Bahrain.
“I said okay – didn’t really believe it at the time – but he persevered, worked hard, great doctors, great physios, great everybody.
“And to have Lance in the car, missing 250 laps of testing that everyone else had, and to deliver the performance he did with a broken toe and a couple of banged up wrists is beyond impressive.
“So great for the team, proud of my son – and this proves we’re to be taken seriously and, [as] I said, in five years we’ll be fighting for World Championships. We will. This gives a clear indication.”
Stroll’s stewardship of Aston Martin has not been without its problems, with the team finishing a lowly seventh in last year’s Constructors’ Championship.
He is relishing the opportunity to prove the doubters of his project wrong in 2023, stating: “A lot of people [in the team] putting in a lot of effort. There’s been doubters along the way, which I could appreciate, and hopefully, I’m convinced we’ll prove them wrong.
“But it’s not about that, it’s about getting the 800 great people we have working for us.
“A great team, with everybody pulling together and we all have one vision and we want to channel all of our passions and that’s to build a great team.”
Eyebrows were raised when Alonso’s switch to Aston Martin to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel was announced last summer, but Stroll revealed his relationship with the two-time World Champion goes back a long way.
“I’ve known Fernando for a while, as has Lance,” he said.
“When Fernando was a driver in the Ferrari Formula 1 team, Lance was in the Ferrari Driver Academy – he was 12, so it’s 12 years ago, so they know each other that long.
“Obviously Fernando is one of the greatest drivers [there] has been. We’ve known each other a long time and Fernando shared my belief. I went to him, I said, ‘here’s my plans for the future’.
“And because [of] the fact he knows me so long he says, ‘you’re going to be the future, I want to be a part of it’ and that’s why he chose to join us.”
When asked about his ambitions for the remaining 22 races, he said: “I don’t like to give targets, we’re going to try our best. I think we demonstrated what we can do.
“Obviously, like everyone else, we’ll be developing through the season, so this is the early days of the car.
“It will get better as we go on with our CFD and wind tunnel testing so long as we just have a great year I don’t want to really give a target on a position, but we’re off to a great start.”