Aston Martin dialled up the steering assist to help Stroll cope with pain in race

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso‘s Bahrain Grand Prix podium may have been big for Aston Martin, but they celebrated team mate Lance Stroll’s sixth place just as much due to the brilliant comeback story behind it.

Two weeks before the season-opener, Stroll was injured in a cycling accident, the details of which weren’t initially shared in full by the team. Stroll was forced to miss the only pre-season test session, where Felipe Drugovich took his place in the Aston Martin AMR23.

The Mercedes-powered car looked impressive in the Bahrain test, and Drugovich told he would make his Formula 1 race debut at the same track if Stroll had not recovered in time. However, despite sustaining two broken wrists and a broken toe, Stroll was indeed able to return.

“My medical team has been incredible,” said Stroll after finishing sixth in the Bahrain Grand Prix. “I have to say a huge thank you to everyone that has helped me over the last two weeks.

Race start, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023
Poll: Vote for your 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix driver of the weekend
“The surgeon in Spain, Doctor Mir, without him, it wouldn’t be possible to be here right now. He’s been unbelievable. And my osteopath, Henry [Howe], who’s been with me 10 hours a day rehab-ing my wrists, fixing my toe – as much as you can do with toes. There’s a list of people that helped me over the last two weeks.”

Stroll revealed that following his crash doctors initially told him the earliest he might return was the third sound of the season, the Australian Grand Prix at the beginning of next month. He drove with only one hand on the steering wheel at times during practice last weekend, but was able to use both wrists throughout the race.

“I’m feeling a little bit better. The team improved the assist level on the wheel a little bit for me. So it was making it a bit easier,” said Stroll. “Aside from the pain, it was fun,” he said thought, “the last 20 laps, I was grinding it out to the end.”

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Aston Martin’s team principal Mike Krack was particularly impressed by Stroll’s comeback given his limited running was exacerbated by a technical problem with his car during practice.

Stroll took it easy in practice
“We must not forget he had no testing, he had a problem on Friday. Then he had huge stress in qualifying” said Krack. “He did not drive the hard tyres at all because we saved both. He had just no reference about managing.

“So I think we knew in all the hype that we had obviously around the podium and we have also to [tip] our hat for what Lance did today.”

Stroll played him self in carefully at the beginning of the race weekend, said Krack. “He protected himself a little bit on Friday and [tried] not to make any moves that could hamper the race. The focus was obviously on the qualifying and the race but qualifying is very short and this he will always manage.”

The team was prepared to draft Drugovich in if Stroll had found himself unable to drive. “I was not worried because also we had Felipe here on standby, Felipe had tested. So there was no real worry.

“Lance had his staff with him for the recovery and they were very confident and we need to trust them if they say he will manage and we trusted that it can work.”

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Stroll, who has been with the team since its previous guise as Racing Point, was thrilled by the team’s successful start to the podium after team mate Alonso finished third.

Alonso’s podium was a “great result” said Stroll
“I’m really happy for the team today. It’s a great way to start the season. Fernando on the podium, great result, and happy to pick up sixth considering everything that happened over the last two weeks. I couldn’t move, ten days ago I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t move both hands, I was a vegetable pretty much. And I didn’t think I would be here right now.

“I’m still just processing everything, it’s amazing to pick up these points, to drive this car, a great start to the season.”

Stroll spent the rather painful last stint of the race sandwiched between the two Mercedes. Although he said “it feels great” to beat George Russell, he thought getting past Lewis Hamilton and claiming his first top-five finish since 2020 was also possible.

“I think we could have got Hamilton without the Virtual Safety Car. We lost some time there. We were catching him towards the end.

“But my pain was the biggest limiting factor in the last 20 laps. Just turn 10, and places like hairpins, I was struggling to turn in with confidence without the pain. I was just trying to get to the end, but it was still just a lot of fun to drive the car today. A great car.”

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2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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 “Aston Martin dialled up the steering assist to help Stroll cope with pain in race”

  1. Coventry Climax
    7th March 2023, 11:46

    This does not make him a hero, it makes him a fool.

    1. I’m inclined to agree. If Stroll was a championship contender, I can see why missing a race would’ve not been an option. If Stroll was fighting for his race seat, I can see why missing a race would’ve not been an option. But as it stands, I don’t see what he had to gain from racing here, imagine if he had crashed harder into Alonso and had a huge slap from the steering wheel to his wrists, he could’ve lost the ability to race for months, so why take that risk for a measly P6?

      1. Coventry Climax
        7th March 2023, 12:34

        Consider this -FIA decision- as well:
        Don’t drink and drive.
        Don’t do drugs and drive. Unless your last name is Stroll?

    2. And… this is just a minor issue compared to what some motorcycle riders have done.

      1. Sorry Greg, I clicked on Report comment by mistake instead of reply -_-…

        Was saying, this is very true. And it should not be allowed for the drivers own sake, whatever the sport they are compteing in.

        1. hmm
          BTW why Reply and Report Comment buttons are so near 🤔

    3. No, it makes him driven, which is good.

  2. The history of motor racing is filled with far more hero stories of drivers racing through the pain barrier. Tazio Nuvolari has heaps of them, most notably a race in 1934 where he had his car adapted to use all three pedals with one foot because he had broken his other leg. Juan Manuel Fangio won the 1955 Argentine Grand Prix despite his leg rubbing against the chassis frame which was burning in the extremely hot conditions. Jackie Stewart’s extraordinary victory in the 1968 German Grand Prix, arguably the greatest ever F1 win, was done with a broken wrist. The most famous of all is Niki Lauda returning in Monza just a month after a near-fatal fiery accident on the Nurburgring in 1976. Nelson Piquet had to be lifted from the car in 1981 after winning the title in Las Vegas. These examples are rarer in recent years but Mark Webber still raced with a broken shoulder in 2010 and Alonso with injuries after Albert Park last year. Lance Stroll’s is the latest on the list of these impressive stories, even if not as extreme as the early years, and should certainly be praised for his achievement, rather than regarded as a fool.

    1. Umm great drive by Sir Jackie undoubtedly but I’d say half the merit was in his superb Dunlop rain tires

      My candidate for best is El Chueco’s 1957 also in the Nordschliefe, where else?

    2. Joe McLaughlin
      8th March 2023, 2:43

      Agreed, F1 Frog. Its absurd to mock the kids effort. He has a guaranteed seat, it would have been way easier to stay home. I’m not calling him a legend, but you cant doubt his commitment and skill! He qualified one handed! “Hold my beer”, says the guys old enough to remember f-duct…

  3. I thought it was a mistake to let him race when Drugovich was largely upto speed with the car after testing. But fair play to Lance, to finish 6th was a great result for him and the team.

    Why take the risk as per the above posts?… He’s a racing driver. Taking risks is what they do!

    1. Coventry Climax
      7th March 2023, 12:37

      The other 19 drivers weren’t taking a risk, but got a risk enforced on them.

  4. I clicked on this story to find out more about that steering assist. How does it work, does it help or hurt lap time, and stuff like that.
    Instead I got a sap story about an idiot who broke his hands on vacation and then raced an F1 car.

  5. I didn’t hear one other driver suggest Stroll shouldn’t be racing.

    1. Nobody asked them the question.

    2. Exactly, arm chair DTS fans here are all doctors too.

  6. Joe McLaughlin
    8th March 2023, 1:23

    The Stroll hate here is strong.
    F1 is built on the legends defying the odds and risking it all for a chance at glory.
    Lauda, Fangio, Hakkinen, Schumacher, all overcame more grievous injuries to compete and are rightly revered for the determination and grit.
    To disparriage Lance’s efforts this weekend, regardless his money or his father, is ridiculous.
    If he had ANY other last name, he’d rightly regarded as a fierce and determined competitor, who even though his seat is guaranteed, showed incredible commitment and strength.. A tough kid who fought through incredible pain, and risked possible further injury to compete in the pinnacle of racing. Grit.
    Let’s be fair and call a spade a spade. Have your reason not to like the kid, but he earned this one. Go Lance.

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