Lance Stroll went 'massively' up in Martin Brundle's Formula 1 estimations after the Bahrain Grand Prix, the broadcaster has revealed.
Stroll qualified eighth and finished sixth in the season-opener in Sakhir, but his participation had been in doubt owing to injuries sustained in a cycling accident on 18 February in Spain.
Suffering wrist and toe injuries, Stroll missed pre-season testing, but returned to the car on Friday in Bahrain and eased himself back into action.
He would finish ahead of George Russell in the works Mercedes, with the effort catching Brundle's eye.
Stroll defied Brundle expectation
"What Lance went through to get onto the grid, let alone finish the race ahead of a works Mercedes, was simply outstanding, bordering on unbelievable," Brundle said in his Sky Sports F1 column.
"I don't want it to sound negative about his previous exploits, but he massively went up in my estimation with his determination to drive the car despite tolerating the wrist and toe injuries that forced him to miss pre-season testing - that's the sort of spirit I like to see.
"When he decisively got ahead of George, I assumed he simply had to physically fade at some point, but he didn't and held on to sixth."
The Canadian did admit post-race that his wrists were "on fire" during the battle with Russell, which the Aston Martin driver won by nudging ahead at Turn 4.
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Major challengers to Red Bull?
Aston Martin were the surprise package in Bahrain, and look to have firmly escaped the midfield and made the so-called 'big three' a 'big four.'
Fernando Alonso claimed third place in the AMR23, with Brundle believing they could emerge as serious contenders to Red Bull later in the season.
"Because of their lowly championship finishing position last year (seventh place in the Constructors'), under the latest rules Aston Martin have so much more wind tunnel development time than their main three rivals," he explained.
"It's already a good package but if they know where to go to improve it, then by mid-season they could emerge as the major challengers to Red Bull.
"That's doubly painful for Mercedes because Aston Martin have the same engine, gearbox and rear suspension and use the same wind tunnel.
"At this juncture Red Bull will pipe up that, due to personnel movements, Aston have followed their design philosophy remarkably closely.
"That's the playground politics of what is in effect a very small group of intensively competitive people."
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With Red Bull having cruised to a 1-2 finish in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com journalists Michael Butterworth and Dieter Rencken analyse how much we should read into their early dominance.