RACE DEBRIEF

    Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack reckons Lance Stroll is “underestimated” as a Formula 1 driver after performing “incredibly well” as Sebastian Vettel’s teammate over the past two seasons.

    Stroll stepped up to F1 five years ago as an Italian F4, Toyota Racing Series and European F3 champion, with early highlights including a podium finish in his eighth race and a shock pole position for the Turkish Grand Prix in 2020.

    After an initial two-year spell with Williams, Stroll made the move to Racing Point (now Aston Martin) following father Lawrence’s purchase of the team, with proven champion Vettel joining him from the 2021 campaign.

    READ MORE: ‘Just not our race’ – Vettel and Stroll explain double DNF for Aston Martin at Monza

    During their first season as team mates, Vettel edged out Stroll in the standings with 43 points to 34 – while both drivers have been reduced to limited points-scoring opportunities this term amid major changes to the regulations.

    Addressing Stroll’s reputation and potential, Krack said: “People underestimate how good Lance is – they think he’s only here because his father owns the team and put him in the car. But you don’t do as well as he has against a four-time World Champion by accident, and you don’t win as many junior single-seater championships as he has by accident either.

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    Lance Stroll has scored five points to team mate Sebastian Vettel's 20 so far in 2022

    “It’s important to remember that Lance has never really had a winning car in Formula 1, a car in which he can show what he’s capable of – to really deliver on his talent.”

    For the 2023 season, as Vettel heads into retirement, Stroll will be paired with another multiple World Champion in Fernando Alonso – Krack again backing the 23-year-old Canadian to cope with the challenge.

    ANALYSIS: Why Alonso accepted Aston Martin’s advances and signed a shock deal – and why it could be a perfect match

    “When Sebastian joined the team, people were saying Lance had no chance, but Lance has performed incredibly well against a four-time World Champion – they’ve been closely matched. People are saying the same thing now that Fernando is joining the team, but let’s wait and see. Lance might just surprise a few people,” said Krack.

    On whether Stroll could even surprise Alonso, he added: “I don’t know if Fernando underestimates Lance. He’s certainly not scared of going up against him in the same car – or any other driver for that matter – but there’s a respect between them. They’ve known each other for many years, they’ve raced against each other, and Fernando knows the qualities Lance has. There’s real respect there.”