Ex-F1 racer Ralf Schumacher suggested that Lance Stroll may want to give up on racing after being embarrassed by Nico Hulkenberg.
Ever since debuting in Formula 1 back in 2017, Stroll has faced a constant battle to prove that be belongs in the series.
His junior career involved multiple title successes, but similarly to Max Verstappen, he skipped a couple of rungs on the latter to go from his dominant capture of the 2016 Formula 3 European title, to Formula 1 with Williams the following season.
However, the funding from his billionaire father Lawrence played a vital role in landing that Williams seat, meaning he has carried the tag of being a pay driver ever since.
Lance moved to Racing Point following Lawrence’s purchase of the bankrupt Force India team, which now is known as Aston Martin, a team which is set on climbing the grid to challenge for wins and titles within the next five years.
But while Stroll has shown flashes of real ability, he has not yet been able to establish himself as the lead Aston Martin driver.
That is not exactly an easy task when up against four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, but with Vettel absent from the 2022 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix due to Covid, the bare minimum expectation of Stroll was to beat his stand-in team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
In the race, he did that, finishing P12, compared to a P17 finish for Hulkenberg.
However, over one-lap, Hulkenberg had comfortably outqualfied Stroll, setting a time 0.255s faster than the Canadian as both Aston Martins suffered Q1 elimination.
Hulkenberg is an experienced and respected driver in Formula 1, but having not competed since the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix, it was a surprise to see him beat Stroll soundly in Bahrain qualifying.
Six-time F1 race winner Schumacher was blunt in his criticism, going as far as to say that Stroll’s qualifying performance was “disgraceful”, while questioning his credibility as a racing driver.
“Stroll should ask himself about whether he should find a different hobby, it was really embarrassing. Nico did a good job,” Schumacher added, in conversation with German broadcaster Sport1 during ‘AvD Motor & Sport Magazin’.
There is no doubt that Aston Martin have started the new era in Formula 1 very much on the wrong foot, leading 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve to suggest that after several years of Mercedes-inspired designs, it almost seems that now Aston Martin struggled when coming up with their own unique interpretation on the 2022 regulations.
“They copied a Mercedes for years, it’s like they don’t know how to design a car anymore,” said Villeneuve.
“Their car doesn’t look good. To compete at the top you need more than ambition and money, Formula 1 is a special sport. It’s not just about marketing and branding.”
Aston Martin have certainly stumbled out of the blocks, while the same can be said also for McLaren.
The Woking outfit were nursing brake issues throughout the Bahrain test and the opening race, finishing P14 and P15 even with the new parts introduced as an interim fix.
McLaren had been very much on a rise back up the order in recent seasons, battling with Ferrari over P3 in the 2021 Constructors’ Championship, so Villeneuve can not understand how McLaren have seemingly thrown away all that progress.
“With all the experience, knowledge and car design skills McLaren has, it’s unbelievable that they’ve thrown it all away like this,” he said.
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