Ex-F1 driver Ralf Schumacher got quite the chuckle out of Fernando Alonso claiming there is title-winning potential in Lance Stroll.
As F1 2023 fast approaches and launch season rolls on, Alonso is preparing for his first season in Aston Martin colours, having penned a multi-year deal with the team.
And that means another new team-mate for the two-time World Champion, as he goes up against Canadian racer Stroll, who to this day is still trying to shake off his doubters.
The Canadian is now something of a veteran in Formula 1, 2023 set to be his seventh season, and fourth with the Aston Martin team which his father Lawrence owns.
As such, Lance is still trying to prove that he deserves his place in the series on merit. He has certainly delivered some performances that suggests he does, though he still lacks that statement triumph over a team-mate across a season, with Alonso the next challenge he must face.
Alonso certainly thinks highly of him though, claiming in an in-house Aston Martin interview that Stroll could even be World Champion one day.
“In Lance, the team has a driver who is super young, super talented and has the possibility to be World Champion,” Alonso said. “To see him achieve that and have played a part in that, whether that’s behind the wheel or not, will be special for me.
“He has the speed, and he has the talent. He has shown it many times, especially in wet conditions.”
But, judging by Schumacher’s reaction to these comments, he does not share Alonso’s faith in Stroll.
Reacting to the claim in an Instagram post, the six-time F1 race winner wrote: “Sure! And Formula 1 cars can fly. Or is it already the first of April?”
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The task gets no easier for Stroll, as now that four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel has bid Aston Martin and Formula 1 farewell, another World Champion in Alonso is here to take his place.
Stroll was unable to get the better of Vettel for overall points during either of their seasons together, and for much of their time as team-mates, it was never quite clear just how high the level was which Vettel was operating on.
2020 was a dismal final season in Ferrari red for Vettel as he then made the switch to Aston Martin for the final two years of his career, but it felt like we only really saw something truly like the Vettel of old in that second half of 2022, the fact that his retirement was confirmed seemingly lifting a huge weight from his shoulders for those final outings.
Alonso though has proven in the last two seasons with Alpine that he is still very much operating at his peak, which makes him one of the very best drivers on the grid.
Forget title challenges for now then if you are Stroll, instead the immediate focus is keeping up with Alonso as Aston Martin plot out a route to start challenging at the front of the grid.