Felipe Drugovich, Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test

Drugovich not guaranteed F1 debut if Stroll doesn’t return for Bahrain GP

2023 F1 season

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Aston Martin reserve driver Felipe Drugovich says both he and Stoffel Vandoorne will be on standby to replace the injured Lance Stroll at next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Drugovich expects the team will wait as late as it can before committing to a replacement for Stroll at the season-opening race, if one is needed. Stroll is missing the three-day test after injuring his hand in a cycling accident last week.

Testing for the new season began at the Bahrain International Circuit today. Drugovich, who shares reserve driver duties at Aston Martin with Vandoorne, did his first laps in the team’s new AMR23 in the early session.

Vandoorne, the former McLaren F1 race driver and reigning Formula E world champion, is not available to participate in this week’s test as he is racing in South Africa. Drugovich says the team currently have not determined which of the two drivers would be asked to step in for Stroll if he does not recover for next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Alexander Albon, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
Gallery: 2023 F1 pre-season testing day one in pictures
“We don’t know yet,” Drugovich admitted. “They’re evaluating it day-by-day, so I don’t even know what’s going to happen. It depends on him as well

“I think me and Stoffel were both assigned to come to this race, to Bahrain. So I think we will both be here and we’ll both be ready if Lance won’t be able to recover.

“But it would be just a choice of the team just before the weekend. It will probably a quite quick one because as Lance’s recovering probably until next week, we’ll make a decision.”

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Drugovich covered the fewest laps of all 10 drivers in the earlier session after stopping on-track in the opening 10 minutes, triggering the only red flag suspension of the day.

Felipe Drugovich, Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
An electrical problem interrupted Drugovich’s running
“We had a few electrical issues,” he explained. “Actually just one, but they took quite a bit of time just to get it fixed. But it was pretty straightforward – an easy thing.

“After that we got going. Lots of tests for the team. Exciting for me, exciting times. Obviously, I need to wish a speedy recovery to Lance, but while I’m here I’m having fun and trying to help the team.”

With Fernando Alonso taking over the car after the lunch break, team principal Mike Krack says the team are yet to decide how they will allocate the remaining days of running between their drivers.

“This is also something that I think you have to do as a team just to cover all eventualities,” Krack said. “We have not made a final decision yet how we are going to go for the next few days. This we will decide in the next few hours.”

The team is monitoring Stroll’s fitness and will make a decision on whether to replace him nearer the opening race next week.

“He was training, trying to improve or to work on his fitness last week, so he was cycling and he had a small incident and hurt himself,” Krack explained. “For precautionary reasons, we decided it’s better to wait a little bit and be ready next week.”

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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11 comments on “Drugovich not guaranteed F1 debut if Stroll doesn’t return for Bahrain GP”

  1. Of course it would be Drugovich. Absolutely no doubt.

    1. The guy’s got the freshest experience in the car and he is a massive talent. Sorry, Stoffel, no chance.

      1. Maybe he knows something we don’t

        1. Lance broke both of his wrists it seems but he plans to race next week so the breaks could be minor but if a doctor let him race is a diffenret story. (information Will Buxton)

    2. Yeah, I’d be shocked if it’s anyone else. It would actually be great for Felipe to get a chance. I’m loving the serendipity of his career lately. He went from convincingly winning the F2 championship, to being without a drive at all, let alone in F1, then got his reserve role and then suddenly a chance to drive in testing and maybe the first race.

      The pressure on

  2. Isn’t Mick available through Mercedes? I would assume he has the best knowledge of these ground effect cars, even if he has not driven this particular car. Drugovich would be a logical pick if the injury lasted longer, but for a one-off you’d go for whoever gets up to speed fastest, not who has the biggest potential.

    1. It’s hard to imagine that Mick can be faster than Drugovich jumping in the car with no prior testing. Talent wise they’re around the same level, Drugovich experience in the car is also more useful in the long run for simulator work.

  3. Should Stroll need substitution for the GP as well, Drugovich would be the most logical choice, given he’s the only non-regular driver to have any real-life experience driving the relevant machinery, so overlooking him for someone without any prior testing & who hasn’t raced in F1 for four seasons would be questionable, not to mention, Vandoorne’s previous F1 racing experience is from the last aero cycle, so the lack of relevant car generation experience combined with rustiness would be risky.
    Even Mick would be a safer option in this regard, given his most recent active F1 racing is from last season & thus from the current GE generation.

  4. We had a few electrical issues,” he explained. “Actually just one, but they took quite a bit of time just to get it fixed. But it was pretty straightforward – an easy thing

    Replacing the ECU is just 1 straightforward thing… but if its a good thing that its just THAT one thing…. i think not

    1. *that it was just that one thing.

      We need an edit button lol

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