Stroll targets top-five finish in 2021 drivers championship

2021 F1 season

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Lance Stroll is targeting a top-five finish in the drivers championship this season, as he predicts Aston Martin can compete for third place overall.

“Finishing third in the championship would be great as a team in the constructors,” said Stroll at the launch of Aston Martin’s new F1 car yesterday, “and from my side pushing to finish up in the top five in the championship, I think that would be a great achievement.”

The team finished fourth in the constructors championship last year, when it competed as Racing Point. Stroll finished 11th in the driver’s standings, his best result to date, seven places behind team mate Sergio Perez.

Stroll also he scored his first pole position in Turkey reached the podium twice during his fourth season in F1.

“Last year we would stay in fourth for such a long time,” said Stroll. “And then we had some misfortunes that really set us back. But it goes to show the potential is there if we just execute.”

Four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel has replaced Perez as Stroll’s team mate at Aston Martin. Stroll is certain he can also win a world championship eventually.

“You’ve got to believe,” he said. “I think every driver up and down the grid believes it. I don’t think we would be here otherwise. I’m still 22, just turned 22, so I think I still have some time ahead of me.

“It comes down to a lot of things. I think experience is a big part of it. Just gaining experience, learning from your mistakes and improving as a driver as well as being in the right car. All those things are critical to try and do it.”

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35 comments on “Stroll targets top-five finish in 2021 drivers championship”

  1. A very ambitious goal, considering he’s yet to finish higher than 11th in the standings.

    I very much think everyone in the midfield is getting ahead of themselves until we find out what Ferrari’s performance is like with their supposed engine upgrade and how Perez fairs with the RB16B. I know Ferrari dropping away along with Albon operating in the midfield opened a door to more podiums, and even a pole-position and race win for the pink Mercedes in this particular case, but I’m not convinced that this will be the status quo in 2021 at all. Getting in the top 6 alone will be a challenge for all the midfield drivers, let alone top 5.

    More realistically I think Stroll should aim for top 8, and work from there.

    1. Agreed, but I would also say you shouldn’t be in F1 if your ambitions do not consistently challenge reality.

    2. Top 5 is a pretty obvious goal if the team is looking to finish top 3, basically equates to Lance saying he does not want to be last of the top 6…as almost without fail the top manufacturers and top drivers align.

  2. Stephen Higgins
    4th March 2021, 12:28

    Nothing wrong with being ambitious, Lance is by no means the finished article but is clearly improving as a driver, and maybe having Mazipan taking over as the main ‘love to hate’ figure in F1 means he can chill out and win over a few more hearts and minds as well.

    1. Indeed

    2. He’d better be careful of Nikita!

  3. petebaldwin (@)
    4th March 2021, 12:36

    It won’t happen but it’s the right target for him. I don’t think he’ll beat Vettel over a season though.

  4. It could be a tight race for 5th, or even 4th in the drivers’ standings. But given RP was easily the 3rd fastest car last year then 5th is absolutely what the drivers should be aiming for. Remains to be seen how the pecking order might change this year, especially if Ferrari are able to make big steps with their power unit. But Aston Martin will certainly be hoping to claim 3rd in constructors as they would have done last year without the penalty, plus a lot of points lost to misfortune and error. I expect Vettel will be in the mix for those spots, but Stroll will have to make some improvements in qualifying in particular to compete with him.

  5. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    4th March 2021, 12:53

    Stroll has quite some faith in his car then.

    Top 4 is a guaranteed Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen and Perez-combi, meaning he honestly believes their car is the third best on the grid. Looking at last season, I think that’s a stretch. The only reason P5 and P6 were available was because Ferrari was caught with their hand in the cookie jar at the end of 2019. With the amount of funds they’ve thrown at the F1-project and with how much they have, that will surely result in more than a team with Aston Martin slapped onto it.

    Also don’t forget McLaren will drive with Mercedes PU’s and have shown they’ve got a pretty good chassis. Good enough to be a challenger with a Renault PU, so surely they won’t be doing a step backwards with a (small) upgrade on that side.

    Last but not least: Alpha Tauri has been in an upwards spiral and seem to be shakng off that ‘b-team’ vibe of Red Bull. Maybe not enough for them to be the third team permanently, but they sure will be in the mix. Meaning Stroll will lose points to 6 drivers from 3 different teams. Sure, having goals is okay, but at least make them something you can actually achieve.

    1. @barryfromdownunder Mclaren had to use both of their tokens for the PU integration, so none left for development. The possible side effects could hinder their performance. They finished 3rd last season but didn’t have the outright third-fastest package. Ferrari’s level of performance is indeed what will, for quite a large part, impact Aston Martin’s (Mclaren’s and Alpine’s too) chances of finishing 3rd in the WCC, as will the driver pairing or more like how well Sainz does in comparison to Vettel in the last season. Alpha Tauri, I think, will finish 7th again. I don’t see them challenging the above teams on pure pace under normal circumstances (at least not regularly), but time will tell.

      1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
        4th March 2021, 15:44

        Very true, forgot about the McLaren tokens.

        That will definately make it very interesting to see how McLaren performs against Aston Martin, seeing as they’ve both for the same PU and had some time to develop their chassis. For McLarens sake I hope they don’t run into the same problem as with their switch from Honda to Renault (different package and having to change things up quite badly) and we’ll end up with 2 different philosophies using the same engine.

        If McLaren manages to get the edge over Aston, I’d be even more disappointed that Mercedes refused to sell their engine to Red Bull. What could’ve been…

    2. @barryfromdownunder @jerejj They were the 3rd fastest car last year and would have gotten that position if it wasn’t for a 15 point penalty for copying Mercedes’ design + they were unlucky with covid.

      With even more Mercedes integration (gearbox, rear suspension), it’s surely going to be fast again, and I think Ferrari will still be in the doldrums for a while yet, so 3rd is likely. Especially with a rejuvenated Vettel.

  6. I am really looking forward to 2021. We will probably still have three classes, but at the top, I think Red Bull will have made a bit of progress, whereas Mercedes will stay where they are. With Red Bull also having a stronger driver line-up, hopefully we will have a two-team battle at the top, with Hamilton, an improved Bottas (who has learned to ignore the criticism) and Verstappen all fighting for the title. Perez won’t be a title contender, but will hopefully fight for race wins.
    Then in the midfield, all five teams will have made progress, and hopefully will be closer to the top two, able to get lots of podiums. I think Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin will fight for third in the constructors’ championship, while Renault (I will not call them Alpine) and Alpha Tauri (annoyingly, I have got used to this name, but I wish they would revert to Toro Rosso) will be a bit behind overall, but may still be top of the midfield at some tracks.
    Unfortunately, the third class will be even further behind than in 2020. With by far the best drivers, and the only one of the three that may have made some development, Williams could improve to top of this group, with Russell making Q2 almost every race. Alfa Romeo won’t have made any development, and the drivers, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi, are nowhere near the level of Russell, and are not much better than Latifi. At Haas, there will be similarly little development, and with Mick Schumacher is a slow learner (if F2 and F3 are anything to go by). He will get there, but will struggle. Mazepin should not be in Formula 1, and will cause too many crashes. Haas will be bottom of the pile.
    So, despite the gap to the bottom three teams, I think 2021 will have a closer battle between Mercedes and Red Bull, while the midfield five will all have made progress and will be closer to the top two than before. Roll on, 2021!

    1. @f1frog I pretty much share the same views as you regarding the possible pecking order this year.
      Here are my predictions for the final WCC standings at the moment:
      1. Mercedes
      2. Red Bull Racing
      3. Aston Martin
      4. Ferrari
      5. Mclaren
      6. Alpine
      7. Alpha Tauri
      8. Williams (8th thanks to Russell)
      9. Alfa Romeo
      10. Haas (dead last because of two rookies, LOL)
      Admittedly, predicting positions 3 to 6 is the most difficult one. The specific order could be any way round, depending partly on Ferrari’s level of performance and how well Sainz does in comparison to Vettel in the last season, as well as, of course, Alpine’s and AM’s driver pairings. The possible side effects from the Mercedes PU integration could hinder Mclaren, so pretty much everything is up in the air between these teams.

      1. I think in terms of how good the cars are, I would predict:
        Mercedes, Red Bull, Aston Martin, McLaren, Ferrari, Renault, Alpha Tauri, Alfa Romeo, Williams, Haas.
        With it being very close between third and fifth, and Renault a bit further behind. But in terms of the constructors’ championship, I would predict:
        Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin, Renault, Alpha Tauri, Williams, Alfa Romeo, Haas.
        And for the drivers’ championship:
        We’ll see what happens!

        1. I’m with you on the “how good the cars are” but for me it is the constructors’ championship. I see AM/McLaren as the most likely to change. But then, I have never been right:)

        2. I don’t see BOT in second, VER was so close last season, things should be even closer this year and VER is light years faster than BOT
          Also think RIC could sneak up the order towards season end as McLaren get to grips with Merc power. He was impressive last season in average midfield entry.

    2. @f1frog I would also like to think the gap is closer, but I doubt it. Only main difference is Red Bull now have 2 drivers.

      Normally stable regs means convergence, but the floor change and new tyres is surely going to throw a lot of teams.

      With Mercedes already starting their 2021 focus earlier than anyone last year, their advantage will be the same, or maybe even larger.

      At least we’ll still have the great midfield battle again. Now with Alonso and Vettel in the mix.

  7. It’s not as overly-ambitious an aim as it may sound. If one took the first half of last season, Stroll looked on course for a possible top-5 finish. He had plenty of bad luck after that, plus Covid. But if he’d kept up the level of performance from the early season, he could have done it. If he can be more consistent this year it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. Plus he has a weaker teammate this time.

    Working against him is the fact that Red Bull and Ferrari now have much stronger line-ups, and Ferrari should have improved their car to at least 4th-best. I also feel Alpha Tauri could be a dark horse threat this year for 4th.

    1. I think it is over-ambitious. This year, Red Bull have Perez, who we can probably assume will finish fourth. Therefore, Stroll has to beat his teammate (very unlikely, as Vettel is a four-time champion and one bad year at Ferrari doesn’t make him a bad driver; I’m sure he will be back on top form this year), and even if he does beat Vettel, the Aston Martin has to be a lot further ahead of the Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Alpha Tauri than it was this year, because Leclerc, Sainz and Norris, Ricciardo and Gasly all beat him in the championship last year with inferior cars. Admittedly Stroll had some bad luck at the end of the year, but he also had a lot of good luck, and I think it evened out. I don’t see it happening (top five in the championship), and I think he will be in the lower end of the top ten this year.

      1. @f1frog no I don’t think it’ll happen either, but it’s not a ridiculous aim. But I really do think he will beat Vettel.

      2. I wouldn’t say a bad year at ferrari, he had plenty of bad years, just 2020 was horrible.

        1. @esploratore 2018 and 2019 were poor by Vettel’s standards, but in 2018 he still fought for the title and comfortably beat Raikkonen in the championship, while in 2019 he finished not far behind the very fast Leclerc. Disappointing by Vettel’s standards, as at his peak Vettel would have beaten Leclerc in 2019, but overall he was still good enough that Stroll wouldn’t have been a threat in the same car. 2020 was the only year when Stroll might have beaten him, but I think at Aston Martin Vettel will be at least back to 2018 form, and will hopefully cut out the spins as well. Even with the spins, he was a top five driver in 2018, along with Hamilton, Verstappen, Leclerc and Alonso.

      3. I think you can add Charles and Carlos also in the top 8 as i think Ferrari will be faster then this year.

    2. @tflb “weaker teammate” phishing…LOL

      1. @malrg How so? Vettel has been one of the most under-performing drivers for the last 18 months/2 years and it’s not a given he’ll recover. Perez on the other hand has been driving at a consistently high level.

  8. Good luck with that. I’m an Aston Martin fan, and even I think that is optimistic. (Not ridiculously so, but Lance will need some luck to get that, and cannot depend on simply improving as much as possible to hit that goal).

  9. Well, good luck to him. Don’t see it happening personally. As some others have said, Merc and RB should have the top 4 locked out, and you would think Ferrari have enough resources to at least get back to 3rd (or at the very least in the mix for 3rd) this season. So will be very hard to finish 5th and end up as ‘best of the rest’, if I was betting then I’d say Leclerc would get 5th. But no harm in setting yourself high expectations. He is definitely not as bad as some people on here make out. A lot of people talk about wet weather being a true test of a driver’s skill, but then no one really wanted to mention that when he got pole at Turkey last year.

  10. Have to agree with the general sentiment above which is that I think 5th is unlikely but I absolutely do not fault him for making that his goal. He is saying all the right things here, and indeed I have always found him to be very level headed in his pre and post qualifying and race interviews…interviews in general. This is not just some passing hobby for him, borne of his Dad having money.

    I would really like to see this team not just copy Mercedes’ car, and as to getting third in the WCC, they actually did last year but for being docked 15 points along with a fine for their rear brake duct copying issue, and I also get Zak Brown’s constant needling of them for being Tracing Point, as they themselves at least build their own cars, and that is a sore spot with him. As I said yesterday Brown would have fumed if they had beat Mac in the WCC, and he will again if indeed AM does this year. And I get that. Even though what AM is doing is legal, and was almost legal last year.

  11. F1oSaurus (@)
    4th March 2021, 18:28

    I guess he’s looking at what happened last year when he was 4th almost halfway through the season.

    After Monza, Stroll was indeed 4th in the standings and that was basically when his season ended. After that the car tried to kill him in Tuscany, Leclerc rammed him off in Russia, Covid struck and he never really recovered after all that.

    Who knows, he might otherwise have been able to continue beating Perez for the full season and finished in the same spot at the end of the season.

  12. Sergey Martyn
    4th March 2021, 22:18

    Checo will flush these so-called ‘targets’ all the way down the drain in about few laps of the very first race.

    1. You might be right

  13. Realistic target I’d say since it’s not a given he won’t beat vettel and it remains to be seen where ferrari and the other midfielders are.

  14. So Stroll is predicting Vettel 4th in the championship.

  15. 5th in the championship is an ambitious goal, but it is correct, less than that I would be wasted, Lance’s true goal is to beat his teammate, if he does, that would be a great achievement for Lance, I personally think that He has a good opportunity to do it, he has the car, he has the team and the experience, 2 with the team and 4 in F1, which is no small thing.

    Even so, if Lance is a few points behind Seb, it would already be a good season for Lance, we have to see how things turn out.

    I already want this to start.

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