Lance Stroll says all is well between him and the team member he was seen shoving after Friday’s qualifying session in Qatar.the Aston Martin driver clashing with his osteopath and performance coach Henry Howe in Losail was broadcast by Formula 1 on Friday. Stroll had thrown the steering wheel from the cockpit of his AMR23 moments earlier in frustration after failing to progress beyond the first round of qualifying for the fourth race weekend in a row.
However Stroll insisted all is well between him and Howe following the incident. “We’re good,” said Stroll. “He’s a bro. We go through the frustrations together and we ride together, so we’re cool.”
Video of the incident circulated on social media and Stroll’s behaviour was widely criticised. “I’m not looking at social media,” he said. “I’m in the car driving this weekend.”
Stroll has endured a run of poor results since the summer break, during which time he has not added to his points tally. “We’re in a rut and it’s not getting better,” he admitted.
“Frustration is just, I think, in the whole group right now. I mean, we want to do better, we want to get better, but it’s just a struggle right now.”
Despite his obvious dissatisfaction with his recent results Stroll insisted he is still happy to be competing in F1. “I’m just struggling with the car and just getting to grips with the balance,” he said. “I’m just not able to extract performance from it right now, which is just difficult and frustrating.”
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He said he hasn’t been comfortable at the wheel of his car since the Austrian Grand Prix in July. “There’s high levels of understeer, snap oversteer, a lack of grip,” Stroll explained.
“I feel like I can’t really lean on the car and drive it with confidence without dealing with snaps and understeer and just a balance that I really don’t particularly enjoy driving.”
He started yesterday’s sprint race from 16th and was classified 15th, last of those running, after being penalised for repeatedly exceeding track limits. Following the Q1 elimination which provoked his anger on Friday, Stroll will start today’s grand prix from 17th, and is pessimistic about his chances.
“We’re locked in and it’s going to be tough,” he said. “We’re going to see what we can do with strategy. Hopefully a few things happen in front of us.
“But in terms of actual pace, I’m not super-confident because I know the limitations of the car and I know that I’m not confident driving it right now.”
While Aston Martin’s performance has dipped over the second half of the season, Stroll’s team mate Fernando Alonso has continued to reach Q3 and score points more often than not. He will start today’s race from fourth on the grid, 13 places ahead of his team mate.
Alonso is better able to cope with the changes in their car’s handling, Stroll believes. “I think he has a particular driving style,” said Stroll. “The way that he gets around the corners might be very different to mine.
“At the beginning of the year I think the car was giving a bigger window for different driving styles to work. And right now it has a lot of limitations that I don’t like that I think he kind of drives around and deals with and that doesn’t bother him as much.”
“I know we’ve changed the car a lot throughout the year and the characteristic of the car has changed a lot throughout the year,” he added. “So maybe we moved away from something that suited me better at the beginning of the year.”
However Stroll admitted he is unlikely to handle his frustrations differently in the future. “I fucking hate having a bad day,” he said. “It’s not going to change.”
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