Stroll rues ‘unlucky’ Safety Car timing as he says season-best P7 was possible in Zandvoort
Lance Stroll has made a habit of finishing in 10th spot this season, achieving the feat on five separate occasions without ever managing to come home higher. Zandvoort was another track where he scored a solitary point – but he believed he could have had more.
The late Virtual Safety Car and then actual Safety Car caused by Yuki Tsunoda then Valtteri Bottas’s retirements threw strategy out of the window, gifting some drivers a free pit stop whilst others saw their afternoons ruined. He had been on the hard compound when the VSC period began and closing in on the one-stopping Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso ahead, before both were able to swap to fresher rubber.
“We were a little bit unlucky today with how things played out and how that affected our strategy,” he said after the race. “The timing of the Safety Car gave the Alpines and Norris the advantage: without that we could have been fighting for seventh. Our pace was strong all weekend, I felt really confident in the car, and we were more competitive.
“That is really encouraging for the coming races. It has been a great push by the team back at the factory to make our car quicker, so hopefully this is the start of a strong run through to the end of the season.”
Along with his point, which edges Aston Martin closer to AlphaTauri in the fight for eighth in the constructors’ championship, one of the biggest positives for the Canadian was the fact he made Q3 on Saturday – albeit that he wasn't able to complete a lap in Q3 due to technical issues.
But there weren’t as many positives to be found on the other side of the garage. Sebastian Vettel made a mistake in Q1, running wide through the gravel, which left him with a lowly P19 grid slot. Although he did recover a handful of places, a slow pit stop wrecked any chances he had to make it back to the points.
“We did not have great race pace – but probably could have earned a better result if we had not started so far back,” the German said. “We stopped early to try and undercut the cars ahead. That strategy would have worked, but that first pit stop was really slow – I lost a lot of time to Zhou [Guanyu], Pierre [Gasly], Alex [Albon], Mick [Schumacher] and I was very close to Daniel [Ricciardo].”
With Vettel in the swansong of his career, he was at least able to take some joy from another on-track battle with Schumacher, even if he acknowledged that the pleasure might have been tempered for his friend.
“I enjoyed my battle with Mick. Obviously for him disappointing: he started in the points, I started more or less last, and we met in the middle! So not a highlight for both of us, but at least we could have some fun.”