Liberty urged to back sidelined champion as Stroll’s F1 block theory raised

Jamie Woodhouse
Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll lays down the laps at the Interlagos circuit.

Lance Stroll at the wheel for Aston Martin.

F1 analyst Peter Windsor is surprised Liberty Media has not made more of a push to get the “serious business” Felipe Drugovich onto the grid, who Lawrence Stroll will not want showing up Lance Stroll at Aston Martin.

After Oscar Piastri failed to secure a Formula 1 seat off the back of his 2021 Formula 2 title-winning campaign, the same rang true for Drugovich after he claimed the title in dominant fashion the following year.

Drugovich would be picked up by Aston Martin, but as their reserve driver for F1 2023, delivering a statement performance in FP1 at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Peter Windsor sees Stroll roadblock in Felipe Drugovich path

Taking over Fernando Alonso’s AMR23 to fulfil Aston Martin’s final rookie FP1 session of 2023, Drugovich ended the session P2, only three-tenths behind Mercedes’ George Russell and over two-tenths up on Aston Martin’s grand prix driver Stroll.

Drugovich faces another season on the sidelines in F1 2024, Windsor saying Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll will not want Drugovich coming in and showing up his son, as Windsor questioned why F1 commercial rights holder Liberty Media are not making more of an effort to get Drugovich on the grid, arguing F1 needs a Brazilian driver.

“As I’ve been saying for a long time now, Felipe Drugovich is the serious business,” said Windsor on his YouTube channel.

“I’m surprised to be honest that Aston Martin gave him such a good run, first of all on the mediums and then the softs, which is basically what Lance Stroll did and he was as quick as Stroll on the mediums and quicker on the softs.

“So, that’s probably all we’re ever going to hear of Felipe Drugovich, because the point I’ve been making from day one, even though he’s paying quite a lot of money to Aston Martin for the privilege of being in this position, is that it will be incredibly annoying for the Stroll family to have this young guy coming in and showing up Lance.

“So, what his future is there, I have no idea. I suppose if Fernando Alonso doesn’t race in 2025, looking ahead a long way, maybe he’s in the running, but even then they’re not going to want a young guy coming in and blowing away Lance, blowing away the son of the owner of the team.

“I think it’s a sad indictment actually of Formula 1 that none of the top teams saw the talent in Drugovich and put him under contract and that he was obliged really to take the only deal out there, which was to buy this position with Aston Martin, which is not right, I mean, this guy has a serious amount of talent.

“And we need a Brazilian in Formula 1 as well. I’m surprised Liberty didn’t get more behind it.”

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While Drugovich is struggling to find a door to Formula 1 that will open, he has certainly impressed Aston Martin’s performance director Tom McCullough.

The mighty FP1 display from the 23-year-old Brazilian did not take McCullough by surprise, who waxed lyrical about the quality of driver they have at their disposal.

Asked by media including PlanetF1.com whether Drugovich exceeded expectations with that Abu Dhabi FP1 performance, McCullough replied: “No. To be honest, when he first drove for us at the back end of last year, we were really impressed with him.

“When he did the race simulation on the start of day three of Bahrain testing, when Lance was injured, it was the first time I thought, ‘Wow, the car really is quite strong’, because there were other people doing race simulations at the same time.

“He is very good from a traction slip and he’s so calm from a driving side of things. His inputs are really good and smooth. So from a Pirelli tyre side of things, obviously having done Formula 2 for two or three years, he was pretty adept at that.

“He’s done over 6000 kilometres with us in our test programme, and every single time he’s getting better and better and we’re walking him through qualifying, race simulations, all the skills that you need to go racing.

“He does a lot of simulator work for us. Really, really strong simulator driver. And I wasn’t at all surprised that he just sits in the car and does a top line job, he really did that from the get go.”

Drugovich will remain Aston Martin’s test and reserve driver for the F1 2024 campaign.

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