Interview: Aston Martin defends Stroll performance-Xinhua

Interview: Aston Martin defends Stroll performance

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-09-19 18:14:30

By F1 correspondent Michael Butterworth

SINGAPORE, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Aston Martin F1 Team Principal Mike Krack has defended the performance of driver Lance Stroll, adding that the Canadian is scrutinized more closely than other drivers on the F1 grid.

Stroll has been at the Silverstone-based team since 2019, shortly after the financially troubled outfit was bought by his father Lawrence Stroll.

Since joining the team, the Canadian has been outscored by every teammate he has had, but the arrival of Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin this year has put Stroll further in the shade, with the Spaniard having taken all seven of Aston Martin's podium finishes so far in 2023, and scoring 170 points to just 47 for Stroll.

Stroll's continued employment at Aston Martin has given rise to accusations of nepotism owing to his relative underperformance, and a nadir came at last weekend's Singapore Grand Prix, which the Canadian was forced to miss after crashing his AMR23 heavily during qualifying.

However, speaking exclusively to Xinhua, Krack defended Stroll, adding that his father's ownership of the team meant that his performances would always be looked upon more critically than those of other drivers.

"Due to the fact that his father is the owner, [there is] a lot of pressure and a spotlight on Lance which any other driver would probably not have," Krack told Xinhua.

"His performance is even more critically eyed because of that, which is a bit unfair, but it is something that he handles really well, the team is handling really well, and let's see what the future brings.

"We're really happy with our driver line-up, and we're happy with the way it is working."

Krack added that Stroll's 2023 season had been partially hampered both by operational issues and by the after-effects of a pre-season bicycle crash in which he fractured both wrists.

"[We have] to provide a competitive car for the drivers, and in most cases, they get everything out of it, provided we are finishing - we had some glitches in reliability - and that we are strategically and operationally on top of things which we have not always been, especially on Lance's car," said Krack.

"Both [drivers had] very strong performances, especially at the beginning [of the season], made much more difficult for Lance with his injuries, so he was a bit hampered when it was about the big points-scoring."

Having finished only seventh in the 2022 Constructors' Championship with 55 points, Aston Martin made a great leap forward at the start of 2023, with Alonso in particular, helping to establish the team as F1's second-quickest car behind the dominant Red Bull RB19.

In recent races, however, Aston Martin has slipped back in competitiveness, with only one podium finish in the last seven Grands Prix, and the team has fallen from second to fourth in the Constructors' standings.

However, Krack sought to accentuate the positive and said the team's improvement from its 2022 level was bigger than had initially been expected.

"Last year, we finished seventh in the championship, did not have a podium, and sixth was our best result. Now [we have] seven podiums in the first 16 races and more than 200 points. It's difficult to say it has not been a fantastic season," said Krack.

"We wanted to do a step forward compared to 2022, and we were very careful to assess this step forward. But I think we can safely say we made a bigger step forward than we were actually thinking."