It’s a good time to be an Aston Martin fan. 2023 has seen the true foundations of the Aston Martin rebrand come to fruition. Dan Fallows has done a brilliant job taking his knowledge from his time at Red Bull and channelling it into turning a struggling midfielder into the genuine second-best car on the grid. And Fernando Alonso has been exceptional in extracting the maximum out of the package.
Fernando scored six podiums through eight races and the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix was arguably the best one by far. Overtaking and beating Lewis Hamilton on merit in the factory Mercedes. A strong car has proven that Alonso is still one of the best drivers on the grid today, a remarkable feat for a man celebrating his 42nd birthday this year. But it also leaves a very Canadian-shaped elephant in the room…
Aston Martin’s owner Lawrence Stroll set a target going into his home Grand Prix, aiming for a double podium finish. Alonso held up his end of the deal, but Lance Stroll struggled again, being eliminated in the changeable conditions of Q2 and only managing 9th in the race, the Canadian struggling to overtake cars in the midfield and only scoring points thanks to George Russell’s late retirement and Lando Norris being penalised five seconds.
As Aston Martin transitions from midfielder to a team that wants to take the fight to Red Bull, at what point does Lance Stroll’s ability as a driver come into question?
Ironically, he earned some goodwill from many fans after rushing back from a cycling injury to take the grid in Bahrain with two broken wrists, but since then his form has dipped. Two of the last three race weekends were rain-affected, an element that plays to the Canadian’s strengths as a driver, and yet he crashed at Monaco while on Intermediates, and got eliminated in a damp Q2 session on home soil. For a man now in his seventh season in F1, there’s very little left for Lance in terms of excuses, given he’s clearly in the best car he’s ever had.
Stroll is now a whopping 80 points behind his teammate, and the contrast in the drivers’ standings is staggering. Fernando Alonso’s driven so well that he’s putting pressure on Sergio Perez despite the Mexican being in a dominant Red Bull, while Lance is only eight points ahead of Esteban Ocon, who’s driving a much more inconsistent, upper-midfield car.
If Canada was anything to go by, the upgrade package that Aston debuted was good enough to put them back in front of their factory rivals at Mercedes. They’re in a genuine fight for second in the Constructors’ Championship, but Stroll’s poor season is clearly holding them back when you compare their driver line-up to the far more consistent line-ups at Mercedes and Ferrari. George Russell crashed in Canada and hasn’t replicated his Hamilton-beating 2022 form so far, but he’s still 28 points ahead of Stroll, and probably the biggest reason why Aston Martin are sitting third overall, rather than second.
And there’ll only be more pressure for Aston Martin as the months roll on. It was announced last month they’ll be using Honda’s new power units in 2026, Stroll making a clear statement of intent by paying yet more big money to work exclusively with the manufacturer that currently powers the reigning Champions.
But that pairing is still several years away. Fernando Alonso’s driving as well as he ever has, but Father Time is undefeated and it’s hard to see if Alonso even still wants to drive at that point, let alone still be as good as he is if enters what would be his Age 45 season. We’ve not had a 45-year-old on the grid since Graham Hill in 1975. You have to start planning for the future and Stroll hasn’t shown enough yet to prove he can lead a top team.
Furthermore, Honda made it pretty clear when their new engine partnership was announced that they want a Japanese driver representing them. With Yuki Tsunoda impressing in his third season despite driving a poor AlphaTauri, and Ayumu Iwasa in contention for the Formula 2 Championship this year, there are options that Honda will certainly push for.
It’s always been hard relating Stroll with his seat being in jeopardy because of his Dad’s affiliation, but with Aston Martin now being evaluated on a much higher level, would Lawrence, the father who’s plunged many millions of pounds into giving his son the career he’s had, dare release him for the greater aim of making his F1 team truly successful?
Do you think Lance Stroll is good enough for his seat? And would his Dad dare release his own son if it meant a better chance for the title? Let us know in the comments and if you liked the video, be sure to Subscribe!