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Lance Stroll Is The Weakest Part Of His Father’s Team

Lance Stroll of Canada and Aston Martin F1 Team looks on in the FIA garage during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Qatar.

Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

After yet another early qualifying exit Friday at the Qatar Grand Prix, a broadcast replay showed Lance Stroll seemingly pushing his trainer while walking to the back of the garage. The video is slightly unclear, since Stroll and the trainer head behind the garage dividers before the shoving takes place, though it only adds one layer of ambiguity—either Stroll hits a wall, or he pushes a team member. Regardless, the verdict is in: Lance Stroll is so very upset.

The post-qualifying interview Stroll conducted with Sky Sports was even more revealing. In a terse 30-second exchange, Stroll uttered eight total words. On his emotions after a Q1 exit: "Yeah, it's shit." After a follow-up question on what's not clicking behind the wheel: "I don't know." On how this will change his mindset for the weekend: a pause, before "Keep driving."

Stroll is a pay driver's pay driver—beyond the usual deal of papa's sponsorship money in the recent cases of Nicholas Latifi and Nikita Mazepin, Stroll's father, billionaire Lawrence Stroll, owns the team he drives for. But while Mazepin was more true to type with his explosive tantrums and equally explosive driving, this behavior is a sharp break from the norm for Stroll, who typically exists on a more even keel. Those who indulge in motorsports gossip might link this behavior to the rumors that Lawrence Stroll is planning on selling the Aston Martin F1 team, and likely Stroll's seat along with it. The empirical tale is that Fernando Alonso has a penchant for outperforming young drivers in embarrassing fashion, and Stroll is especially feeling the pressure in a season where he has 47 points compared to Alonso's 174 points and seven podiums.

Whatever your sentiments on the term "nepo baby," if Stroll's father did not own the team, he would've been out of a seat years ago. In the two years prior to Alonso's ascension, Stroll was outperformed by a version of Sebastian Vettel that was past his prime. In perhaps his best year, 2020, back when Aston Martin was still in Racing Point's pink, Stroll had 75 points to Sergio Pérez's 125. This season is made worse by the fact that prior to the technical directives cracking down on flexi-wings, the Aston Martin was a podium-worthy car. If Stroll performed anywhere close to Alonso's caliber, Aston Martin would be in the fight for second in the Constructors' Championship, along with Mercedes and Ferrari. Instead they're at risk of being overtaken by a McLaren team that, for the first half of the season, was—to borrow some of Stroll's words—yeah, pretty shit.

But we do live in a world where Lawrence Stroll still owns the team and Lance Stroll, rather than remain ephemeral as he normally does each race weekend, has taken the Qatar Grand Prix as an opportunity to deliver a reminder of that fact. Well, here's everyone noticing. If the trajectories of Latifi and Mazepin are any indication, there are few pretty legacies for pay drivers in F1.

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