Drugovich will make F1 debut in Bahrain if Stroll cannot return

2023 F1 season

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Aston Martin has confirmed who will drive its car at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix if the injured Lance Stroll is unable to complete.

Reserve drive Felipe Drugovich has been chosen as Stroll’s substitute for the race weekend.

“The team will continue to give Lance every chance to race, pending recovery from his injury,” Aston Martin announced on social media. “Should he not be fit to compete, then Felipe will drive the AMR23 alongside Fernando [Alonso].”

Stroll suffered hand injuries in a cycling accident in Spain last week. He was unable to take part in the three-day test at the Bahrain International Circuit which concluded yesterday.

Drugovich completed a day of running in the team’s new AMR23, split between a half-day on Thursday and another yesterday. Fernando Alonso covered the rest of the test for the team.

Drugovich won the Formula 2 championship and will make his grand prix debut if he stands in for Stroll. Aston Martin’s alternative options included fellow reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne,but he was unavailable to test for the team last weekend as he was racing in Formula E.

Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack said yesterday that Drugovich’s opportunity to test for the team had improved his chances of being chosen as a stand-in. “I think it’s very, very important that you do your homework and you have also one of your reserve drivers that is available for this year to prepare for the case that it is necessary.”

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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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21 comments on “Drugovich will make F1 debut in Bahrain if Stroll cannot return”

  1. As much as this is probably the right decision (F2 Champions should be given whatever opportunity, and he is one of only two people who have actually driven the car).

    It would have fun to see Seb & Fernando in the same car. It wouldn’t be for long and I’m sure they’d both have enjoyed it. Heck, if the Aston really is that competitive…… it’d have been really fun.

    But yeah, Felipe makes more sense.

    1. I never knew someone could get injured by biting down to hard on a silver spoon.

  2. I’m sooooooooooooo dissapointed! It would’ve been a fantastic closure on Vettel’s career if – potentially – he would be given a competetive car again for one last time.

    1. No way he would’ve driven alongside Alonso. Whatever is left of his legacy would’ve been completely destroyed.

      1. That’s a very childish perspective that nobody cares about.

  3. I wanted to see Vettel in a car capable of podium one last time. Would had been much better PR for the team.

  4. Wise decision, as he’s the only one with actual driving experience in the AMR23, so he’s the safest option for a one-off substitution.

  5. Good.
    It is only right and fair.

  6. Hope Stroll a speedy recovery. Drugovich n°1 priority must be nursing his car to the finish and completely ignore Alonso’s presence on the other side of the garage. A crash might compromise his future chances as it did last year with Gio at Haas.

    1. @tifoso1989 Same & I agree about the priorities.
      While a crash might compromise his future chances, the same wasn’t necessarily the case with Gio, as he never seemingly was a serious candidate anyway.

      1. @jerejj
        Gio may not have been a serious candidate but Haas gave him a chance anyway. If he has showed serious pace compared to Magnussen maybe Haas could have had a second thought. He is a very good development driver after all and he is comfortable with the Ferrari PU too. The practise crash confirmed Haas suspicions that he isn’t the right guy for the job. Not to mention the beef going on between Binotto and Steiner that pushed the latter to opt for a Vasseur sponsored driver…

        1. @tifoso1989 Good points & I assume that by Vasseur-sponsored driver, you’re referring to Hulkenberg driving for his team in GP2, although so have a few other current & former full-time drivers.

          1. @jerejj
            Hulkenberg got the Haas seat mainly due to Vasseur good relationship with Steiner. I’m not discrediting him as a driver but the reality is that you need to have good connections within the paddock to get a F1 seat unless you’re Hamilton, Verstappen, Alonso… The failure from Binotto to find a seat for Gio at Haas that have a technical partnership with Ferrari with a base at Maranello added to the tension.

            It’s worth to mention that both Toto Wolff and Vasseur hold the strings with regard to the drivers larket. Toto has some interesting prospects in his team like the Italian Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

  7. All we need now is Rob Smedley on the radio!

    1. Felipe Baby!

  8. I refuse to get hyped up on false hope. They’ll put Stroll in the car anyway. All Drugovich gets to do is watch Stroll shag his car into a barrier… teary-eyed

  9. Quite right too, it is always disappointing when teams employ young drivers in reserve roles and then don’t allow them to race if the opportunity presents itself.

    I always think back to 2013 or so when Lotus had the opportunity to field the reigning GP2 champion for a couple of races at the end of the season because Kimi was injured … but they went for Heikki Kovalainen instead, with predictable results.

  10. Reserve drive Felipe Drugovich has been chosen as Stroll’s substitute for the race weekend.

    This sounds logical. On Day 3 of the pre-season testing his best time was about half a second slower than Fernando’s. Of course, these times shouldn’t be taken too seriously. I guess we’ll find out on Thursday or Friday if Lance will be ready to race or not.

    1. Felipe was never given the chance to run at night where the most favorable conditions are which is kind of short sighted if you ask me. They could have given him at least 1 of the 3 night sessions.

      1. Is the race going to partially be in low light or night conditions? The Formula 1 website says the race starts at 18:00, so I’m guessing it will finish in low light conditions, so I suppose there could be a benefit to have Felipe to have had a turn in those conditions, but that assumes he will actually drive in the race, which currently is only the backup plan. If you were to believe Fernando is the person who will earn the majority of Aston Martin’s points this year, then it makes sense to let him do the night time running.

        1. @drycrust The race (also FP2 & QLF) will finish under a fully dark sky as per usual & start with little light (mainly red-colored) left in the west or sunset direction.

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