Faced with rumors, much denied by Lance Stroll, that his “heart and soul” as a Formula 1 driver are perhaps no longer there, Danica Patrick put these thoughts aside.
Stroll is a driver under real pressure as the points gap between him and double Aston Martin world champion teammate Fernando Alonso continues to grow, with Alonso on 170 points to Stroll’s 47 ahead of the Grand Prix of Singapore.
The last thing Stroll needed was further setbacks, but that’s exactly what he encountered when Q1 in Singapore ended with a huge shunt for Stroll as he lost control of the AMR23 exiting the final curve.
Danica Patrick says Lance Stroll has his mind in the game
Thankfully, Stroll walked away unscathed and, after the session, Sky F1 presenter Simon Lazenby told former IndyCar driver Patrick that there were question marks over whether “his head is in the game, whether his heart is in sport?”
However, Patrick has no doubts that Stroll is fully committed to the team and to Formula 1.
“Once you strap your car in, you’re in,” Patrick insisted. “You’re a driver, you know what you’re doing.
“Once you get out of the car, sure, there can be distractions, but I don’t question when someone gets in whether or not they put their heart and soul into it. You have to do it, you’re going so fast out there, you’re doing something really challenging that almost nobody can do.
Stroll, speaking to Sky F1 after getting the all-clear at the medical centre, spoke about how he was chasing performance in those final corners after seeing his Q2 chances slip away.
And in the end it went beyond the limits of the car and the driver.
“I feel good,” he confirmed gratefully.
“I think we were pretty slow. Considering the outgoing laps were really bad with a lot of traffic and stuff like that, we didn’t have any temperatures in the tires throughout Q1.
“And so I started the lap about two seconds behind a car in front of me, I think it was the Alpine, so we were losing a lot of downforce and also bad tire preparation and I saw that we weren’t really doing well in Q2 in the last few two curves.
“So I really pushed into the last corner to try to make up some time to see if something magical could happen and find some time to pass and it just didn’t work.”
F1 2023: Head-to-head qualifying and race statistics between teammates
All-time F1 points table: where do Hamilton, Verstappen and Alonso stand?
Lance Stroll reminded that he is not Fernando Alonso
Patrick was then asked whether Alonso’s clear superiority over Stroll, and therefore the increasing pressure, is starting to have an effect on the Canadian after that turnaround in Q1?
The former American driver, however, suggested that Stroll “knows he is not Fernando Alonso”, and therefore hopes that this incident serves as an important learning experience.
“I mean, at the end of the day, he knows he’s not Fernando Alonso,” Patrick said. “That’s not a question right now and a lot of it depends on what he did, but also on the weather.
“So it’s not like you’re necessarily trying to prove that you’re better than him, I think he should just try to learn.
“I guess he’s just trying to soak it up as much as he can, but it really hits hard when you do stuff like that, when you make real mistakes, because it really felt like a real mistake.
“And I feel like what he said was ‘I was already so far away, I was trying to throw the Hail Mary and I couldn’t do it’.”
Former Aston Martin strategy chief Bernie Collins fears the shunt will also have consequences for Stroll ahead of the race, with a huge repair job needed on that AMR23 in time for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
And with a total rebuild looming, Collins says that will make it very difficult to define that challenger’s setup for Sunday.
He said: “It’s interesting the comment about taking a little look at the lap time delta and realizing you’re down and thinking, ‘let’s just see if I can push a bit more into the last corner’.
“It’s very difficult to recover the lap time that he lost in the last corners, just to succeed in this type of send and see the type of approach. Maybe he already looked at some overlay, some data in the garage during the race and thought: “well, Fernando is going a little bit faster in this apex, maybe I should go for it and hope there is grip”.
“And it wasn’t for him and it’s a very unfortunate way to finish qualifying for him, because certainly, even looking ahead to tomorrow, even without improving his position, he would be in a much stronger position if he hadn’t had that accident .
“Because to rebuild the car tonight, to get everything fine-tuned, you won’t have to do a lap run to the grid tomorrow morning to check that the car is OK, that the setup is correct, that the balance is OK, everything it’s synchronized together, it’s a big ask so build that car exactly how it was today, same kind of setup for tomorrow, make sure there’s nothing wrong with that.
Stroll has the unenviable task of regaining a points-worthy position, given that he starts from behind on a track where overtaking can be very challenging.
Read later: 2023 Singapore Grand Prix qualifying winners and losers
Pundit’s article denies Lance Stroll lacks ‘heart and soul’ in F1 after detour to Singapore first appeared on Planetf1.com.