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Stroll gives no clarity on future in F1: That's the plan

Stroll gives no clarity on future in F1: "That's the plan"

07-11-2023 07:00
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Nicole Mulder

In principle, one Formula 1 seat is still available for next year. Logan Sargeant will be given until the end of the season to prove himself before Williams ties the knot over his future. However, it could just be that not one but two seats will become available for the 2024 F1 season.

Lance Stroll's motivation has been a frequent topic of conversation and, according to some, it is not a question of if but when the 25-year-old Canadian decides to hang up his helmet. That news coverage culminated in the aftermath of the Qatar Grand Prix, where the Aston Martin driver gave his trainer a hard push after his Q1 exit in qualifying.

Does Stroll still want to continue in 2024?

About the incident, Stroll hardly wanted to say anything afterwards. "We are okay," was all he wanted to say about it. It landed him an official warning from the FIA, but he seemed to have learned little from that just under a week later. Slumped on the bench during the press conference, he answered the question of whether he still liked F1. He replied with a "yes", but his attitude said the opposite.

Fernando Alonso's younger teammate is by no means having an easy season. Virtually every race weekend, he drives in the shadow of the two-time world champion. Only on the GP weekend in Brazil did he once again stand tall and even beat the Spaniard in qualifying. Although Alonso finished on the podium, a fifth-place finish for Stroll in the race is currently a bright spot in the darkness.

Stroll neither confirms nor denies Aston Martin contract for 2024

Before the F1 race at Interlagos, Stroll was asked whether he will return to the grid next year. This was met with a striking answer: "The plan is to stay next year," Stroll said, neither confirming nor denying that he will still be driving in F1 in 2024.

"It's been a challenging season at times for sure," he added. "Some great highlights but also some really frustrating days recently. But yeah, the plan is to keep going next year for sure." Whether the successful weekend in Sao Paulo is enough to convince the Canadian will have to be seen. An official announcement never comes because he has been driving for his father Lawrence Stroll's team, he has been guaranteed an ongoing contract.

Not one, but two F1 seats available in 2024?

Sargeant finally scored his first point in F1 at the US GP, but it took the two disqualifications of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc to do so. In Brazil, he came close with 11th place, but there were many dropouts there too. It therefore remains to be seen whether the American manages to convince enough to be offered a contract extension by Williams.

James Vowles admitted that he himself had a share in the lack of impressive results. The former Mercedes chief strategist, currently team boss at Williams, said the driver was not mentored well enough in his debut season in Formula 1. So both the team and Sargeant are working hard to improve, but the driver will not be told until the end of the season whether that work has paid off sufficiently.

Who are the candidates in the event of Stroll and Sargeant leaving?

Mick Schumacher is currently without a permanent F1 seat, but as Mercedes' reserve driver, the former Haas driver would be available to step into the Williams alongside Alexander Albon. Apart from the son of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, however, there is another option: Liam Lawson.

The Red Bull Racing reserve driver filled in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo for five races at AlphaTauri, where he left a deep impression. The New Zealander exceeded expectations from the start and even scored his first points with a ninth-place finish in Singapore. Next year, however, he is back on the reserve bench and so Red Bull could choose to loan the driver to another team.

Should Stroll decide to leave F1 behind, Felipe Drugovich seems the most logical candidate to take over his seat. The Formula 2 champion already has some experience behind the wheel of an F1 car, as he replaced the injured Stroll in the winter test and also took part in the first free practice at Monza.

Aston Martin recently announced that the 23-year-old Brazilian will stay on as test and reserve driver in 2024 as well as in the first free practice for the Abu Dhabi GP. So should the seat next to Fernando Alonso become vacant next year, Drugovich will certainly be available.