Jordan and Coulthard: Is time running out for Lance Stroll?

Lance Stroll (CDN) Aston Martin F1 Team on the grid. 04.06.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
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Many assume that Lance Stroll has one of the safest race seats in Formula 1, thanks to his father Lawrence Stroll being the principal owner of the Aston Martin team.

However this year the Canadian is in the spotlight and under pressure in a way that he's never been before, as team mate to Fernando Alonso in a squad that has hit a remarkable run of form in 2023.

But while Alonso has been in the top four in seven of the eight races so far this year and is currently third in the drivers championship, Lance Stroll's recent form has been on a downward trajectory.

His best result of the year was in Australia when he just missed out on joining Alonso on the podium, but two DNFs plus a failure to finish in the points in Monaco have left him languishing in P8 in the overall standings.

Now high profile pundits including former team boss Eddie Jordan and ex-F1 driver David Coulthard are starting to question how long Stroll Sr will be able to justify keeping his son in the line-up.

Lance Stroll (CDN), Aston Martin F1 Team 04.06.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

“Here’s a question: you own Aston Martin and have poured fortunes and fortunes of your own money [into it]," Jordan asked on the Formula for Success podcast. "And there’s a huge amount of sponsorship money.

"What do you say to the sponsors who have come to you when they ask you the question, ‘Are you sure that Lance can do the job that we need to do to get this team to be a winning constructors team?’

"I want to know: if you’re Lawrence Stroll, what do you answer?”

Coulthard was in agreement, saying that “the stopwatch doesn’t lie” and that it was a "brilliantly simple statement of truth" when it came to comparing Stroll's qualifying efforts in Monaco and Canada to those of Alonso and Max Verstappen.

"Is it any surprise in one of the most difficult transitional qualifying sessions that you’ve seen this year, and in Monaco as well, that one young, brilliant talent and an older brilliant talent find their way onto the front row?" while Lance was down in P16 in Montreal.

Lance Stroll (CDN) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23. 18.06.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

"I’m not saying Lance isn’t good enough, he’s won everything all the way through his journey towards F1," the former Williams, McLaren and red Bull driver acknowledged. "There’s been some elements of misfortune in his run this year.

"But there’s a point where you can’t keep making excuses. This is a stopwatch competition, and a certain point that is what will dictate what teams choose to do in the future."

But Stroll continues to enjoy the full support of his team - not just the unusually solicitous Alonso, but also the senior management.

"I think he drove really well," Aston Martin principal Mike Krack said after Montreal, when Stroll fought back from poor a qualifying in inclement conditions to finish in the points. "But if you are in this DRS train, it's really hard.

"On paper it looks only ninth and your team-mate finishes second, and you think it's not a good performance. But when you see where you come from, I think he was very good."

And technical director Dan Fallows pointed out that the pre-season training accident in which Stroll suffered serious hand injuries had also been an inevitable factor.

Lawrence Stroll (CDN) Aston Martin F1 Team Investor. 04.06.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

"It's extraordinary that he managed to get into the car in [the season opener at] Bahrain and put in the performance that he did," he told the media.

"In subsequent races he’s obviously been struggling a little bit with that, and his fitness," he conceded. "But really, incredibly gutsy performances from him, particularly in the start of the season."

"He has to gain confidence with his driving, and the way that he feels that his fitness is, and the way he can respond to the car,

"Frankly it didn't take him a great deal of time to get comfortable," he added. "I think he is much happier with the car now, he obviously feels much fitter in himself."

While it still seems highly unlikely that either Lawrence or Lance Stroll will be quitting on their world championship dream anytime soon, the chatter in the paddock suggests that his place on the grid is no longer automatically assured.

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