Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Circuit of the Americas, 2022

2022 F1 driver rankings #15: Lance Stroll

2022 F1 driver rankings

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When Lance Stroll was rushed into Formula 1 at an early age, the inevitable flaws in his racecraft could be excused in the knowledge that he would surely improve over the years ahead.

There’s no doubt that the now 24-year-old’s prowess as a driver improved over his first five seasons in F1. But during his sixth season, he produced some of the best – and, regrettably, worst – moments as a grand prix driver.

Aston Martin impressed by being the very first team to unveil their genuine 2022 car prior to pre-season testing. But it quickly became apparent the AMR22 could have done with more time in the oven as the team ran towards the back in the opening rounds. Lacking the experienced Sebastian Vettel to guide them due to Covid, Stroll had to lead the team alongside stand-in Nico Hulkenberg.

Stroll was a menace in Melbourne
So when Hulkenberg out-qualified Stroll in the opening round in Bahrain, it did not reflect too well on the driver who had spent the pre-season testing the brand new car.

He earned back some pride in the race, however, making his way up the order to finish a respectable 12th by the chequered flag, five places ahead of the team’s stand-in driver. Stroll even brought the AMR22 within an outside chance of scoring a point the next weekend in Jeddah, but that ended in the closing laps after a clash with Alexander Albon.

Vettel returned for Aston Martin in Australia and suffered what could generously be described as a disastrous weekend. Incredibly, however, Stroll somehow managed to match his team mate for sheer calamity over the same three days. He crashed at the end of final practice, adding to his mechanics’ already heavy workload, then in qualifying he showed zero awareness when he drove into Nicholas Latifi as the Williams looked to nip passed in on an out-lap, severely damaging both cars and a three place grid penalty.

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In the race, he earned another penalty for weaving while defending from Valtteri Bottas and was lucky not to be investigated yet again when he appeared to force the Alfa Romeo off the track at turn three. Stroll at least went some way to redeem himself at Imola where the took his first point of the season, but Vettel had already crossed the line two places ahead of him.

Singapore was a strong race for Stroll
Stroll’s early season developed something of a Jekyll and Hyde pattern, where any weekend he achieved something of note, it was marred by some regrettable incident or setback. Like in Miami, where he reached Q3 but was forced to start from the pit lane as Aston Martin did not have their fuel at the correct temperature pre-race. He did well to make his way up the order and take a final point in tenth after post-race penalties were applied, but he’d also clashed with Kevin Magnussen twice and earned a black-and-white warning flag for weaving once again.

Baku, however, was another poor weekend for Stroll. After hitting the wall in practice, he bashed the barriers twice in qualifying and ensured his early elimination. Although he retired in the final laps, he was still well outside the points while Vettel secured the team’s best finish of the season in sixth. At Paul Ricard, he failed to follow Vettel through into Q2 but a great opening lap gained him four places. Vettel caught him on the final lap, but Stroll fended him off aggressively to hold onto the final point in tenth, raising some eyebrows among the paddock.

In Hungary, a fine effort by Stroll went unrewarded. Having made decent progress through the field, he was then spun by Daniel Ricciardo midway through the race. Despite passing Bottas for tenth in the closing stages, Stroll was asked to allow Vettel through so his team mate could attack Esteban Ocon ahead. Stroll obliged, but the team failed to return the place to him when Vettel could not catch the Alpine on the final lap, leaving Stroll frustratingly out of the points in 11th.

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Zandvoort was a weekend Stroll could feel proud of, easily reaching Q3 before being denied the opportunity to run in the final phase thanks to a hydraulics problem. In the race, he maintained decent pace in eighth place but gradually fell to finish tenth – but was four places ahead of Vettel.

Singapore was Stroll’s shining performance of the season. He qualified 12th after Aston Martin’s gamble on slicks on a slowly drying track failed to pay off in Q2 but managed to move up into sixth position after taking advantage of the second Safety Car to pit for dry-weather rubber. He held onto the place until the chequered flag, taking his best result of the year and demonstrating, as he did at Istanbul in 2020, that he does have the skill to keep his car in one piece even in the most challenging circumstances.

Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso collide, Circuit of the Americas, 2022
A clash with Alonso showed a lack of awareness
But even while Aston Martin surged over the final races, Stroll continued to show an alarming lack of awareness far too often. He was in the thick of the points battle in the United States, but appeared to move in front of Fernando Alonso as the Alpine driver looked to pass him along the back straight, triggering a frightening crash that put him out of the race. Then in Interlagos, he felt the need to squeeze Vettel onto the grass at high speed as the pair fought over 11th place in the sprint race. Not only was this a completely unnecessary action for a relatively minor position in a sprint race, it earned him a hefty 10 second time penalty that dropped him to 16th on the grid. Despite that, he still managed to secure another tenth place finish in the grand prix.

By now, Aston Martin had a serious chance to overturn Alfa Romeo for sixth place in the final race. While it wasn’t to be, with the two teams tying on points and Alfa Romeo winning on countback, Stroll did his part in the race, taking eighth to even beat Vettel in his final ever grand prix.

With six years of experience behind him, Stroll can no longer be considered a developing or even a young driver. As Aston Martin aim to grow into a major force over the next few years, Stroll simply must do better to eliminate the mistakes and reckless incidents that remain a defining feature of his.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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23 comments on “2022 F1 driver rankings #15: Lance Stroll”

  1. I think he is placed to high as facto he was invisable except in negative way (incidents) i don’t think he will improve much more then this.
    With the car in mind i would place him 17th myself.

  2. Lance Stroll is a bit of a puzzle. On one hand he seems like just another pay driver: slow, erratic, no progress. However, once in a blue moon he pulls something impressive out of the bag, and his race management seems good. Just about capable of being a F1 driver, but after six seasons we definitely need to see someone more deserving get the place.

    1. Nope. We don’t. It’s critical Lance stays in the team for 2023 to give us a good comparison between 35 year old Vettel and 42 year old Alonso.

      1. True. He’s a punching bag for teammates.. Let’s see which driver will knock him on his rear end harder. My money will be on Fernando giving him the worst thrashing of his career.

        1. Yes, most likely.

        2. If alonso destroys stroll it’s gonna look really bad for vettel: at 42 you’re supposed to have lost like 5-6 tenths per lap compared to 35, decline starts slowly at 35 and accelerates after 40.

    2. José Lopes da Silva
      13th December 2022, 13:20

      Pastor Maldonando won a Grand Prix. There are dozens and dozens of drivers around the world able to perform in Formula 1. The question is if they are able to maintain the performance in order to achieve consistent results. To perform more than once. There’s where we get the solid midfield drivers, the top drivers, and the very best.

  3. A bit surprised Stroll’s starts are not really mentioned here. I would say he overall has the seems to have the best launch control of any driver on the grid. I first thought that when he was at williams it was just because he was so awful in qualifying, but even then, he would regularly gain numerous off the line and on the first lap.

    The strange thing about Stroll is he is superb at starts, and spacial awareness on lap one is usually superb actually. But later in the race when racing just one driver, his spacial awareness is often shockingly bad.

    Regarding his starts this year, it has to be said his start in japan was stunning. He took a huge risk going the speed he did going so tight to the pit wall and his gamble paid off, and he was actually more happy on these tyres than most other drivers before the race got red flagged. Performance in the wet is another highlight for Stroll, it has to be said.

    This is the top 10 starts of the year according to the official F1 YouTube channel.

    Stroll is in it more than any other driver and is 7th 3rd and 1st.

    Just surprised Stroll’s starts are not highlighted here.

    1. I agree about Stroll’s launches are consistently one of – if not the best – of any driver on the grid. He’s also above-average in the wet, most certainly.

      I would put the rest down the recklessness. Stroll’s start in Japan is from the same locker as his moves to defend against Alonso in Austin and Vettel in Sau Paulo. Occasionally his decision-making works in his favour, but more often than not, it’s poor. He can’t use a lack of experience as an excuse nowadays, yet is in the spotlight for the wrong reasons as often as Tsunoda, Schumacher, Zhou et al.

      Whereas those drivers have shown varying degrees of improvement over time, Stroll hasn’t. But it’s certainly worth drawing attention to his good qualities, even if they are often drowned out by his otherwise questionable driving.

      1. It’s an unusual spread of abilities – a great starter, very good in the wet, and not actually that far behind Vettel on pace (although Vettel is long past his peak).

        But he just isn’t adding any season-long performance to his repertoire. I’m perhaps in the minority when I say he is good enough for F1 – but he’s not SIX seasons good enough.

        Aston really should move on from keeping a seat open for the owners son. If they’re serious about building a winning team (and I think they are), you need two strong drivers.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          13th December 2022, 10:42

          With his 6 seasons worth of experience (more than many drivers get), he’s now at a level where if he debuted for one of the slower teams, you’d say “ok, this kid looks like he might have something….” The trouble is that he’s not a kid and he’s not debuting – he’s competed in more races than Leclerc and Russell.

          1. He’s more experienced than half of the field already. And better than maybe a couple of drivers, including Latifi who’s already gone.

            After all this time and he didn’t got anywhere. He clearly doesn’t have what it takes, but maybe his father is venting on him his own dreams of being a driver, who knows.

        2. He is a rich kid spoilt rotten so when he wants he does drive well but that is 1 or 2 races and he can’t be bothered anymore and drives like a grandma otherwise there is no explaintion why he sucks so many times during the season.

  4. Another year and another rubbish season for Lance.

    I thought the bottom 6 drivers were really poor this season.
    Latifi was in a league of his own.. But Ricciardo, Schumacher, Tsonuda, Zhou and Stroll were all equally bad. Quite subjective to have Stroll ranked higher than Zhou or Tsonuda, as I thought he was equally poor even though it was his 6th season in F1.
    Stroll should pat himself on the back though.. As this was probably his highest F1 fanatics ranking since he’s entered the sport. I think he’s peaked out right now… #15 is the best he can ever hope for.

    1. Still don’t agree on Zhou. Rookie season, lots of bad luck and a horror crash to recover from put him much higher than the other 5 imho.

  5. José Lopes da Silva
    13th December 2022, 13:23

    Stroll should always be evaluated a little below what is results show because, unlike Ricciardo, Schumacher, Tsunoda, Zhou or even Latifi – well, unlike all the other 21 drivers that competed in Grand Prix this year, he does not have the pression to perform to keep his seat.

    Did someone mentioned his recklessness?

  6. 6 seasons in, one could expect he should be at least reliable, like Magnussen or Hulk, but he isn’t even that.

    And he clearly has attention issues too. A lot of his crashes with other drivers happen because he is spacing out in the middle of the track.

    In resume : daddy bought him a career in F1. Would never last this long driving like this in any other circunstance.

  7. Stroll is an odd driver. He, as mentioned above, has a few areas in which he’s right up there with the big names – but he doesn’t have the full package and doesn’t seem to really improve either. Still, he’s had multiple podiums, a pole (and another front row start), raced alongside F1 legends like Vettel and soon Alonso, and even if he didn’t win himself many fans he can’t be said to be completely out of his depth either. It’s a pretty cool way for a guy to spend his twenties. Lots of other rich kids have to make do with fraternity parties and driving dad’s Lamborghini on the interstate. Fair play to Lance!

    1. He’s also been leading a race on merit for more laps than anyone.

  8. I stand by this. If stroll actually had the threat a threat of losing his seat he’d be a solid f1 prospect. But instead he’s the driver with the most secure seat possibly in the history of the sport. I have never seen a driver so consistently beaten by his team mates but despite underperforming will still have a car at the Silverstone based team with his name on the side for the next season. I think it detracts from how I view the management ability of Lawrence stroll. He obviously thinks his son is a future world champion, which alot of the grid would laugh at. But perhaps if Lance had the pressure of perform or you are gone, then he might actually lift his game. That being said, I’m not sure either Lance or Lawrence have experienced desperation as a form of motivation

    1. José Lopes da Silva
      13th December 2022, 19:12

      Fully agree regarding the absence of pression, but allow me to disagree about Lawrence Stroll’s expectations.
      I don’t think he believes Lance will be a future world champion. He’s smarter than that.
      He’s a savvy businessman and a motorsport fan. He gladly pays for his son’s passion. And then he lifted the game by buying a team. But if he’s considering a shot to the title with Aston Martin, he knows it won’t be with Lance.
      And with the right car, he doesn’t need to. Lance can fit perfectly the role of number 2 driver along the Team’s Driver.

      1. Lawrence Stroll said in his F1 Beyond the Grid interview that he thinks his son can deliver with the right car. This he based on the fact, and it is a fact, that Lance won titles in karting, F4, and in F3. Now some would argue his F3 campaign was a bit of a assisted win, but he did put himself in a position to benefit from his teammates moving over for him and he’s hardly the first or only person in motorsport to benefit from team orders.

        Still, that’s all quite a while ago now, and since joining F1 in 2017 Stroll hasn’t shown much development. He’s a decent midfield driver with some pros and cons, but unlikely to ever be hired by another team.

        1. Indeed, I doubt he’s ever gonna move up to a top car, unless ofc lawrence does something about it.

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