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Lance Stroll

Stroll has run out of time for excuses - now he must simply deliver

Lance Stroll had an odd 2023 season - but now into his eighth season in F1, a fully fit Canadian has no more excuses.

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2023 was an odd campaign for Lance Stroll - his seventh season as a Formula 1 driver during which he climbed into the top 50 for drivers with the most Grand Prix starts, making it up to 143 as of Abu Dhabi, just one behind Emerson Fittipaldi's total.

The Canadian has shown flashes of speed throughout his time in F1, delivering podium finishes and claiming a pole position, on merit, in the tricky conditions of the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix - but he floundered badly in 2023.

In the nine races between Austria and Qatar, he claimed just 10 points, five of which came through a fourth place in the Speilberg Sprint and posted a DNS in Singapore after his huge qualifying crash.

That dreadful run of form, which coincided with the car being at its weakest, ultimately cost the team fourth in the Constructors' to McLaren.

Team-mate Fernando Alonso scored 206 points whilst McLaren's lead driver Lando Norris took home 205, so pretty evenly matched between the two lead drivers.

Norris's team-mate Oscar Piastri banked 97 points to Stroll's tally of 74, with Aston Martin falling 22 points short of the Woking squad.

It was a season of cross-roads as Aston's strong start was intersected by McLaren's recovery given the fact that Alonso banked eight podiums and Stroll, who finished 10th, was the only driver inside the top 12 not to bank a podium all year spells out where he went wrong.

In fairness to Stroll, when the AMR23 was at its strongest at the start of the season as Alonso fired off podium after podium, he himself physically was at his weakest.

He was forced to miss pre-season testing after breaking his wrists, and a toe, in a cycling accident and was rushed back for the Bahrain opener - where he admitted his "wrists were on fire" after battling George Russell.

To his credit, Stroll finished that race in sixth place, and was set for another solid result in Saudi Arabia before a car failure put him out.

On merit, he also out-drove Alonso in the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, finishing ahead for the first time, but as the AMR23 lost competitiveness through the trek around Europe, Stroll's form nosedived.

He had a torrid weekend in Italy through no fault of his own with car trouble, had that massive shunt in Singapore qualifying before a prickly interview in Qatar post-qualifying, after he shoved his trainer after being informed he must go to the weighbridge to avoid a penalty.

He was a driver devoid of form and confidence and it was beginning to show.

But to Stroll's credit, he dug himself out with a seventh place in the United States, which was in effect ninth on the road before Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were chucked out.

No excuses

Now, in itself that is not a lot to write home about, especially as his team-mate was over one hundred points clear in the same car, but it was a starting point.

Confidence breeds momentum in F1, and after that result, he took fifth in both Sao Paulo and Las Vegas before rounding out the year with the final point of the season with 10th in Abu Dhabi.

He scored 74 points with a best of fourth in Australia, in his second-best campaign in terms of points, having scored 75 in the shortened 2020 season - where he scored two of his three career podiums.

This is not an attempt to re-write history and make it seem like Stroll had a great 2023 season, he didn't.

He was dreadful at times and any other driver other than Lawrence Stroll's son would have faced serious questions at the end of the year - but with that late flurry of results, he showed there is a capable driver in there.

Stroll is never going to be world-beater or world champion, but he is a very capable Grand Prix driver, certainly capable of snipping a win on his day if all goes according to plan.

That is the driver Aston Martin must see in 2024 to take it to the next level, providing consistent points finishes and threatening podiums. In what will be his eighth season, with a decent package under him, Stroll no longer has any excuses not to.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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