Sebastian Vettel v Lance Stroll: One-way traffic in Vettel’s final season

Mark Scott
Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, side-by-side. Hungary, July 2022.

Qualifying: 13-7
Races both finished: 8-7
Points: 37-18

With the driver leaving Formula 1 scoring double the number of points as his team-mate, one could argue that the wrong Aston Martin driver said farewell to the sport after Abu Dhabi.

Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll continued as team-mates for the second successive season but while in 2021 the gap was marginal, P12 and P13 in the standings separated by nine points, this year Vettel’s experience – and talent – shone through in their under-performing AMR22.

The German scored two-thirds of the team’s points to Stroll’s third with the German failing to make it out Q1 10 times and into Q3 on five occasions, with Stroll 12 and three in those respective columns. In fact there wasn’t a stat that counted where the Canadian got the better of his team-mate, even though no one would have faulted Vettel for checking out early after announcing his retirement.

Vettel’s 2022 championship got off to a false start, the German ruled out of the opening two grands prix with Covid, not just positive but ill to the point that he conceded while he had raced sick in the past, even if F1 had allowed him to compete, it “was not possible”. He followed that up with his first of three DNFs for the season.

But on the upside he didn’t miss much. Stroll, partnered by Nico Hulkenberg in the first two races, wasn’t able to score as the AMR22 lacked pace – so much so that even though Stroll broke his and the team’s duck at Imola, Vettel also in the points, and scored again in Miami, Aston Martin introduced their green Red Bull at the Spanish Grand Prix.

It was quickly evident that while the bodywork may be similar, the secret of the all-new ground effect aerodynamic cars lay in the floors and Aston Martin’s vortexes weren’t doing what Red Bull’s were.

While Stroll added just two more top tens to his tally before the summer break, Vettel scored five times including a season’s best of P6 in Azerbaijan.

But, running at the back of the pack three races later in Austria, he is said to have made his decision that this wasn’t what he wanted, he was missing family time for P8s and 10s and so on. As Formula 1 entered its summer break, the German kicked off the silly season by announcing his retirement.

Despite that weight off his shoulders, and Aston Martin introducing their controversial 2021-esque rear wing, points still didn’t flow in the final 10 races of the season. They were a bit more regular as Vettel scored in five of nine races, equalling his best result with a P6 in Japan, Stroll with four in those same nine.

He equalled Vettel’s P6 in Singapore but the back half of the Canadian’s season will best be remembered for his illegal jink in Austin that sent 2023 team-mate Fernando Alonso airborne, followed by his attempt at putting Vettel into the wall in Sao Paulo. Strangely, or not in the world of Formula 1, he received only two penalty points for the Alonso crash, but three for Vettel even though there wasn’t contact.

Vettel being Vettel, and one race away from retirement, smiled and shrugged it off as a miscommunication between the team-mates. They wrapped up the season, and their partnership, with only the team’s third double points-scoring result in Abu Dhabi.

It was by in large a mediocre season for the Aston Martin lads. They weren’t able to beat Alfa Romeo to sixth place despite the Ferrari-powered team completing fewer laps than any other outfit and they weren’t able to reach the heights achieved under their previous moniker despite having far money at their disposal. It was a season of ‘just weren’t able to’.

And with that Vettel waved goodbye, Stroll set to partner another multiple World Champion next season in Alonso. It’s hard to imagine that Alonso won’t pick up from where Seb left off and create yet another rather one-sided battle.

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