Lance Stroll, Aston Martin F1 Team

Stroll certain he can race despite injury compromising practice

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll says he has no concerns over his ability to race this weekend while recovering from surgery on a wrist injury.

Stroll missed testing after injuring his wrists in a cycling accident while training for the new season. After undergoing surgery on his right wrist, Stroll was cleared to race this weekend in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

He completed both practice sessions – his first representative laps in the AMR23 – covering a total of 45 laps. However Stroll appeared to have difficulty turning his steering wheel through the opening corners of the circuit from onboard footage.

At one stage Stroll’s race engineer Ben Michell asked him to change his line through the tight switchback corners at the start of the lap, which require a rapid change of direction on the steering wheel. “I can’t man, I can’t, with the hands,” Stroll told him.

At the end of the session Stroll appeared to require assistance from the team’s crew to lift him from the cockpit of his car. Despite this, Stroll insists he is comfortable in the car and has no concerns over his ability to race.

“I’m feeling alright,” Stroll said after Friday’s second practice session. “A little stiff, but it was overall okay in the car today.”

Alexander Albon, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix practice in pictures
Asked about him appearing to nurse his hands through corners, Stroll explained he was “just protecting” his injured wrist.

“It feels a little more comfortable,” Stroll insisted. “So I feel like I can definitely drive, no problem.”

Aston Martin enjoyed a promising start to the season, with Stroll’s new team mate Fernando Alonso going fastest of all ahead of Red Bull. Stroll set the sixth-fastest time, just over half a second behind his team mate. He described his team’s performance as “incredible.”

“It’s looking amazing and it’s feeling great in the car, too,” Stroll said. “So really a top job from everyone.”

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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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19 comments on “Stroll certain he can race despite injury compromising practice”

  1. This seems like a really bad and immature decision by Lance. He may end up missing future races for the sake of driving the opener.

    1. While the slightly longer-term consequence is possible, I still doubt he or the team would take unnecessary risks with his health if they had any doubts about returning so soon after getting injured.
      I fully trust them that they aren’t playing with health & safety. He passed FIA’s mandatory medical checks, after all.
      Besides, athlete in other sports, such as ice hockey, football, basketball, etc., often play with minor injuries, especially in playoffs, so driving a racing car with a minor injury doesn’t differ massively.

      1. ‘athletes’

  2. This is MotoGP attitude I bad not expected from Lance. I like.

    1. Agreed. I’ve been critical of Lance in the past, but am impressed by his tenacity here.

      Also bear in mind, it’s his first day in the car this year, so he’ll be sore unlike the others who have done 2 days already.

    2. Yes but a lot of those drivers are more or less invalids at later age 40+ i don’t think it’s a good idea and turnung was very hard for him and he can’t get out of the car himself that is dangerous.

  3. I just hope that he is saving himself for the race rather than push his injury hard on the first practice sessions.

    I’m going to be mighty disappointed if he drops out during the race because of this though.
    He should have let Drugovitch run this one while he made a full recovery in my opinion.

    1. What could possibly go wrong?! Put Drugy in.

  4. Neil (@neilosjames)
    3rd March 2023, 19:15

    I do like seeing this from a driver, or from those in other sports – doing all they can to compete and drive/play despite not being 100%.

    Not always the smartest move, though, especially if you can’t fully do your job with the injury. It’s bad enough risking making the problem worse without also impacting on the team’s result.

  5. At the end of the session Stroll appeared to require assistance from the team’s crew to lift him from the cockpit of his car.

    I thought there was a rule which said a driver had to be able to evacuate the car in 5 seconds unaided. While I admire Lance’s determination to drive, he needs to take a break from driving for this Grand prix.

    1. Having seen the footage, I was thinking exactly the same thing! Would Grosjean have survived with that injury at this circuit? No.
      If he cannot comply with the removal time limit he is unfit to drive. Simple.

      1. I wasn’t able to find that video, but I did come across a comment on the F1 TV Final Practice 2 video (which I can’t find right now) where he said to his engineer that he wasn’t able to take a particular line through one of the corners. What if he needs to take that same sort of turn to avoid a collision?

  6. If this report is accurate, and he took 2 goes to pass the extraction test, then he shouldn’t be racing. He’ll have been prepared the 2nd time, knowing how he had to orientate his hands in order to get himself out. That knowledge isn’t available to him in an emergency as it’s not programmed in to muscle memory, so he could come unstuck. Looks like a foolhardy decision to me.

  7. At this point, after hearing from his mouth that he can’t properly turn in a specific corner, it’s obvious that the only reason he’s in the car it’s because he owns the team.

  8. Should he make the race , he is at a huge disadvantage because if he bangs wheels, it will really hurt his hand. Cars around him will know that and capitalise on this…
    I applaud his determination, but the sensible way is too wait for the next race..

  9. Can, and should, are very different things.

    Showed today be can do it. Even the pace, considering the lack of testing and the injury weren’t even that bad.

    But should?, Already enough doubt over how it’ll hold up over a race, but what happens if, for example, he has an incident?, Could be just wheel to wheel contact, could be something that puts him in the wall. Then what?, seems a huge risk.

    The big tell for me was being told to change line in turn 1, his response was basically ‘i can’t, the hands’. That alone says he should be sitting this one out.

  10. The guy shouldn’t even have a say in this, he’s putting his own safety and other drivers at risk if he drives injured.

    1. I don’t know why the team would allow this. It’s a really bad call, the car has got pace, why would they choose a one handed Stroll over a fit and young Drugovich.
      Stroll is clearly not ready to race, come Sunday he’s haflway through the race and has to pull in because of pain and discomfort from a points paying position, they will look really silly. That’s the trouble when the your dad is the boss, nobody can challenge this kind of call.

  11. He’s probably sniffing a great opportunity for a great result and want to take the chances as Aston Martin looks stronger than Ferrari and Mercedes at this track. But is it worth it? He can make it worse than it is and the next race is on the corner already.

    But can he drive a full race while being fast and fending off the attacks of other drivers ?

    And being unable to properly drive and get out of the car on the same circuit that Grosjean only survived that crash because he was able to jump out quickly enough should come to his mind.

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