F1 team mate battles at mid-season: Stroll vs Vettel

2021 F1 season

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Both Aston Martin drivers went into 2021 with something to prove. But as yet neither has decisively held the upper hand over the other to the extent they might like, and each have shown plenty of scope for improvement.

True, were it not for Sebastian Vettel’s disqualification from the last race – he would presently enjoy a 48-18 lead over Lance Stroll. But would this truly be a fair reflection of their relative performances? After all, Stroll has been the first driver home more often on the occasions when both have finished.

In his fifth season of F1 and third year at his father’s team, Stroll was overwhelmingly beaten by Sergio Perez. Vettel also lost badly to Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, yet Aston Martin eagerly showed the door to Perez – still with two years left to run on his contract – to welcome Vettel in.

Over the first four races Vettel finished in the teens, usually behind his team mate, and it seemed his Ferrari form had followed him. But as with most of 2021’s movers he took a few races to play himself in. Monaco was a turning point – Vettel qualified strongly and carved out a fine fifth place. Then in Azerbaijan the cards fell in his favour and he capitalised in style, finishing on the podium, while Stroll lucked out with a high-speed tyre failure.

Since then Vettel has increasingly held the upper hand in qualifying and converted that into some strong results. Stroll has done himself no favours by failing to progress from Q1 in France after a track limits violation, and crashing in the same session in Azerbaijan.

Vettel’s peaks have been higher than his team mate’s: He took another second place on-the-road in Hungary before being disqualified for reasons beyond his control, while Stroll took himself and Charles Leclerc out at the start with a lunge from miles back. There have still been took many of the occasional errors which marked Vettel’s last season at Ferrari, however, such as his careless clash with Esteban Ocon in Bahrain and an unforced spin at Silverstone.

Aston Martin – formerly Racing Point – has made some debatable calls with its driver line-up in recent seasons. The team may be looking at their present seventh place in the constructors championship and blaming an off-season rules change they didn’t like and 700ml of missing fuel in Hungary. But they should also consider how many points their drivers have left on the table.

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Lance Stroll vs Sebastian Vettel: Key stats

Lance Stroll vs Sebastian Vettel: Who finished ahead at each round

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Lance StrollQ
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Sebastian VettelQ
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Lance Stroll vs Sebastian Vettel: Qualifying gap

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time. Negative indicates Lance Stroll was faster, positive means Sebastian Vettel was faster

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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31 comments on “F1 team mate battles at mid-season: Stroll vs Vettel”

  1. Of all the teams looking to use the 2022 rule change as an opportunity to jump forward in the pecking order Aston Martin is the least convincing. They still seem to be racing with a backmarker mindset of “we’ll just make the most of the opportunities we get on the occasional chaotic race gamble”, as if they’re still Mallya’s Force India struggling on a shoestring budget. They failed to get P3 in what was clearly the 3rd fastest car last year, and i still see the same team just not making the most of what they have.

    The drivers can certainly improve but they could be in a worse position in that regard. Also their response to the rule changes has been lacking at best. With all due respect to Szafnauer, Green and all other senior staff, the team doesn’t seem to have the human structure in place to fight for victories, despite the excellent job that Stroll has been doing to bring the money in. I’d love to be proven wrong, but in the 3 years that they’ve been racing with a secure financial future we’ve seen barely any improvement, and i don’t see that changing next year.

    1. In my opinion the problem is that they are running a 2019/21 mercedes. They are always going to be a second off mercedes. They need to return to designing and building their own cars. I believe that is their goal however I’m doubtful they’ll achieve it by 2022. They are still expanding the factory and they are hiring people that can only start working by mid 2022.

      1. @peartree they’re the only team that made changes to the actual chassis of the car this year, so the design is very much theirs. The factory expansion started in 2019, it should’ve taken *some* effect by now but they’re doing a lot worse than they were in 2018 even, and if your goal is to be ready to take advantage of 2022 rules why leave it so late that the people you hire can start working midway through the year at the earliest?

        If what you say is true then it all circles back to what i said about the human structure lacking and the team not being properly organised and prepared to move forwards.

        1. @xenn1 isn’t part of that down to the rather lengthy “gardening leave” periods that several of those whom they’ve hired are having to take? For example, if you look at Dan Fallows, Red Bull are imposing restrictions on him until 2023, whilst others are having to wait until 2022.

          I do also question if perhaps it is also a bit over-trivialising things to say “oh, why didn’t they hire them earlier?” – those other teams whom they are having to negotiate with when hiring those senior staff members are unlikely to be sorted quickly, since they’re not going to be keen to let those staff go.

          Quite a few of those items that you’re complaining about also have much longer lead times than you seem to realise – the factory expansion only received planning permission to proceed at the end of 2019, and the construction programme means that new factory is only just being finished now.

          The construction sector has been experiencing major problems due to the current pandemic, and F1 teams are also being caught up in those problems. Just look at McLaren and the problems they’ve been having with their wind tunnel upgrade – that is a year behind schedule, having originally been planned to come on stream in 2020, but now only coming on stream this year. You seem to be assuming that those facilities can be wished into place a lot more quickly than things really can be.

          1. Aren’t gardening leaves legally not allowed to be more than 37 weeks in F1? Otherwise there would be virtually nothing standing in team’s way of imposing 5 year gardening leaves for their top personnel, which ofc nobody wants. I mean of course negotiations and everything take some time, but it’s been 3 years since Stroll took over, at some point you’re bound to see some progress, we saw some of that with the illegal-but-still-allowed-to-race car in 2020, and now they’re barely back to 2019 level.

            The factory expansion thing i didn’t know about, which fair enough i do admit can get in the way. But i remember Szafnauer talking about how the designers immediately received upgraded hardware and software in their current factories after Stroll took over and how they didn’t have to wait for the money to come in to start the manufacture process anymore, so theoretically for the 2021 season they weren’t limited like they were during the 2019 car development where they literally didn’t have money to start producing the new car.

            Let’s compare it to McLaren: Off the top of my head, Zak Brown came in at the beginning of 2017, restarted the restructure process at the end of the year and the team was best of the rest both in 2019 and 2020. Compare that to AM who said that they only needed the money as the human structure was in place and the picture seems a bit bleaker. The true litimus test will be next year, but for me it’s still a case of i’ll believe it when i see it.

        2. @xenn1 it has been proven that the brake ducts are not their design nor were they produced by the team but rather by a 3rd party that is common between merc and aston. This fact established that most likely the aston as suggested by empirical data is a merc. They are doing worse because Ferrari improved, Honda improved and the midfield is a bit stronger whilst merc is a little weaker.
          I reckon Aston was not meant to be ready for the 2021 regs, the fia delaying these 1 year is presumably not enough rime since they did not expect to be able to tackle the rule changes. I also think, as suggested by all the toto wolff rumours, that Aston was looking at inherenting the merc f1 team, in case the germans ended up pulling the plug.

          1. The brakes became a listed component on January 1st 2020, i.e starting from that date they were supposed to be developed and manufactured in-house. RP showed the stewards a document that they received all the parts and Mercedes data on the brakes on January 6th and their argument was ‘the order was delayed’ but they apparently couldn’t show when they’d placed said order. It was very much black and white and RP was on the wrong side of it.

            They are doing worse because Ferrari improved, Honda improved and the midfield is a bit stronger whilst merc is a little weaker.

            It’s the pinnacle of global motorsport, saying “they’re doing worse cause the others improved” is like arguing that i can’t beat Usain Bolt in a 100m sprint cause “he is faster”. That is the most childish excuse ever.

            When Stroll bought the team the regs were planned for 2021, and they kept saying back then that their aim was to take advantage of the new regs. How come they still are somehow not ready half a year into the delay? I mean yes the pandemic threw a spanner in the works, but it’s not like it didn’t hit any of the other teams and AM seems to be the only one still hiding behind that excuse. That’s at least what people on online forums seem to be arguing to defend their lacklustre performance.

    2. Besides this and corroborating your point at the same time, it’s a mentality issue as well; the moment you base your philosophy on blatantly ripping off the leading competitor’s design, content in the fact that it can be arguably justified to be within regulations, just to maximise points, you are engaging in attrition and trying to minimise loss to the front, instead of doing something spectacular within your means ( something I can well give the Mallya years credit for). And it goes against what F1 has stood for in its history.
      Even their hiring of Vettel on the back of his results against Leclerc over 19-20, smacks of flailing at the opportunity to bolster Lance’s speed credentials; I can’t imagine that, atleast privately between the Strolls, it wasn’t discussed that beating a down-and-out 4-time world champion would make Lance look better after the hiding he’s received at the hands of all previous F1 team mates.

      Reply moderated
      1. edit: this was meant to be a reply to @xenn1. Apologies if that didn’t happen. It’s my first comment on racefans!

        Reply moderated
      2. content in the fact that it can be arguably justified to be within regulations

        @zxampa except the FIA judged it not to be within the regulations, penalised them and then still let them run the car (which tbf was understandable because they couldn’t stop them from copying the design again) and they still managed to mess it up and not maximise the car’s potential.

        As of hiring the 4 time champ down on his luck, i actually understand that move from a marketing perspective, it was a statement of intent by a new company/owner joining the sport to show that they mean business. Most people expected Vettel to bounce back anyways. I seriously think that the driver line up is solid, even if not in top form right now. The team as a whole has got some bigger problems, as we’ve all outlined above hahaha

  2. Stroll is a force to be reckoned with and most certainly has the drive, the ability and the special something to drag this team to the front.

    Stroll is one of the weakest links in this team, rarely over performing and far too often blatantly under-performing. Experience is no longer an excuse. He has not earned his position in the team on the merit of his abilities or results.

    Both statements above I feel are true. And to avoid ambiguity, one refers to Lance, the other Lawrence…

    1. +1
      I feel at this point Stroll the team owner realises that he is quite adept at his F1 turn, but is significantly hampered by his permanent association with the other Stroll ;)

      1. Not that vettel is convincingly beating him, though, so I don’t think even if stroll jr. was more talented, we’d be looking at a top driver pairing, vettel did better than I expected but wasn’t consistently good so far.

  3. Seb needed to CONVINCINGLY beat Lance to save his racing legacy (I specify racing, as he is doing a fine job securing his legacy as a decent human being), its not looking that way so far…

    Also, this website is getting close to unusable as a free source – I understand the push for funding and making people sign up for the premium, ad-free, experience, but I literally can’t even scroll the page half the time now because of this:

    https://ibb.co/qJTx1fy

    1. You could upload screenshots on Imgur too.

    2. Not that it’s my business, but are you in a position to pay the subscription fee?

      1. @drycrust Given that @joeypropane quite clearly described his issues with the site in it’s capacity as a ‘free resource’ I am unsure what your point is. If he were in a position to pay the subscription for himself and 1000 others it has absolutely zero impact on the point he raised.

        I respect the fact that there should be benefits to paid members, and perhaps it is the intent for the advertising to be as significantly intrusive as it is for non paid members (that is the right of the owners), but it remains valid to highlight the issues. I too now have issues such that I do not even bother looking in on my mobile devices. Again, if this is the intent, then fine. I understand the options. But it is also possible that the owners may not wish to potentially cause such inconvenience as to potentially drive non-premium viewers away, and in that case it is surely beneficial for the site runners to be aware of this, no?

      2. He probably is and so am I, but at least personally I don’t think we should be paying to read articles about f1, there’s plenty of other websites that are free, and the same also goes for watching f1, atm I’m generally watching on the free tv the races delayed and avoiding spoilers (which is tv8 in italy), should they force people to pay to watch it’s either illegal streams or bye f1, especially as I don’t think it’s the best period for the sport anyway with the mercedes corruption.

        1. This website costs £1/month.
          That’s so cheap as to be completely negligible

    3. Good work can’t come for free! We used to buy magazines or take out a cable subscription to get motorsport news so I’m grateful for what is being offered here.
      I would say racefans stands up very well compared with what pay to read websites are pushing.

  4. Seb improved from his nadir 2020 season performance but not by much really. Occasional flashes of brilliance is not enough for a four-times world champion to prove himself. As for Lance, the improvement is also visible, but the main reason Stroll Jr. is still there remains because he is, well… Stroll. Fairly good on Keith’s side to notice both two drivers left a lot of points on the table with big mistakes and some lacklustre performances, plus consistently not even near maximum performance. With a really top-form lineup, the fifth place in the WCC should have going on course to be wrapped away already.

  5. Now that Aston Martin got a podium finish over very dangerous circumstances, I hope they get a podium finish under normal or dramatic circumstances.

  6. I think we’ll see a resurgence from Aston Martin in the second half of the year. Yes, sounds like a fanboy thing to say, but the truth is this for all its politicking in recent months the team is still the most tenacious bunch of people on the grid, and has been for a decade. It will be hard to believe that they will not be able to beat Alpha Tauri and Alpine, which for all their talk, have very little to show for in the last few years in terms of expected results.

    Reply moderated
    1. There’s also the possibility tsunoda gets his act together though.

  7. From the worst possible start in testing, Vettel has adjusted well, and 2 podiums is quite something for a midfield car. I wouldn’t be surprised if he could pull another one out of the bag now that he’s getting more used to the car.

    Stroll is underrated. Good rain and first lap skills means he can instantly feel the grip and that’s rare.

    1. If Stroll really is underrated, wait for rain on October 3rd!

      1. He means underrated by most people commenting here and in other places, I think he’s a perfectly fine midfield driver, bottas-hulkenberg-like and on this assumption saying stroll is a weak driver means underrating him.

        1. @esploratore1 He doesn’t have the consistency to be considered an above average midfield runner. He has some peaks in which he’s very good but his usual form is average good at best, compounded with occasional big mistakes. Definitively he hasn’t been showing enough to eventually become the leader of a midfield team, even if you consider his pace and skills make him fully deserving of a Formula 1 seat.

    2. I agree. stroll is underrated. To podium and to be a pole sitter in F1 is really hard. Any racers that spent their life racing in other pro series know this. There are more racers that never taste those.

      To do it under difficult circumstances in the rain is even more convincing.

      That being said, Lance problem seem to be consistency. His peak and valleys are too big. He is still young though and with the right people and approach, I have no doubt he can close those up. Is he Hamilton, Verstappen caliber? Certainly not. As those people possess something that rarely possessed by others, and that’s why they stick out.

  8. Vettel has not been convincing. His two podiums were a case of “right place, right time” so while I was glad for him to get some success, I still know he’s not really at the top level. If he was, he would have found some creative way to at least make a few attempts on Ocon, instead, all we got was a boring sixty lap procession.

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