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lance stroll

Time for Lawrence to take Lance for a stroll to say F1 is not for him

lance stroll

After being comprehensively beaten by Aston Martin teammate Fernando Alonso (P5 today) during qualifying for the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix, any glimmer of hope that Lance Stroll (P16) deserved his seat in Formula 1 has vanished.

Credit to billionaire Lawrence Stroll for spending an untold fortune to get his son Lance the best of the best. Even buying him an F1 team and turning it into the Aston Martin mega-project it has become. All for the sake of his son’s ambition to be a World Champion, with Papa believing it possible. That’s what cool Dads doo if they can afford it.

Now into his eighth season in F1, Stroll Junior is arguably worse than he was when he drove for Racing Point. He did not shine against a well-worn Sebastian Vettel and now with Fernando Alongside him it is clear as can be that Lance is not the real deal for the top flight.

Qualifying P16 at Suzuka will hurt the Strolls. If the penny had not dropped that Lance does not have it, then today it surely did, or they are in scary denial.

The difference between Alonso and Stroll was a huge reality check at Suzuka. It is an old-school, no-nonsense track. Punishes mistakes. Humbles the overtly brave. Simply put, it separates the men from the boys as they say. Today is a case in point at good old Suzuka.

Suzuka separates the Men from the Boys

alonso aston martin f1 fans suzuka qualifying

The ‘Boy’ in this story was, of course, 25-year-old Stroll versus the ‘Man’ 42-year-old Alonso in Qualifying on Saturday. The Aston Martin AMR24 is clearly not as good as the AMR23 was, relative to rivals and the pace-setting Red Bulls at this stage of the season last year.

But Alonso did not get that memo, as he popped it P2 on the timing screens in the opening stanza of Qualifying, splitting Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez at the top of the timing screens. Stroll was down in P16, 0.77s down on his elder teammate who went on to find another second for Q3

Alonso summed up his Saturday: “I am very happy with fifth position today. It’s always a very special experience Qualifying in Suzuka, with the low fuel loads and fresh tyres and everything felt good in the car today. Perhaps it’s a little unexpected to be as competitive as we were.

Looking back at last year, we were over one second from pole position in Suzuka and now we are only four-tenths away, so it seems we are going in the right direction. It’s too soon to say whether our updates have made a significant difference, but we’ll look at all the data we have.

“We have usually been faster in Qualifying compared to the Race, so let’s see what happens on Sunday,” reckoned Alonso, ahead of the 381st Grand Prix start. His last F1 win was in 2013.

Lance: I just didn’t have the pace I needed in Qualifying

stroll early shower suzuka qualifying f1

Last year at Suzuka in September, when the AMR23 was no longer in the hunt for podiums, the Canadian also failed to make it out of Q1 with a time only good for P17, and again seven-tenths shy of Alonso’s P10 effort. In other words, the Boy is getting no better relative to the Man, 17 years his senior.

Stroll nailed it: “I just didn’t have the pace I needed in Qualifying today and we don’t yet understand why. I think I was pushing to the limit of what my car was capable of, but I was lacking the speed to get out of Q3.

“The update package seems to be working on Fernando’s AMR24, so we’ll take a look this evening to see if there’s anything else that could have been impacting my car. There’s a lot of work to do ahead of the Grand Prix; we’ll have to make the most of any opportunities that come our way,” added Stroll.

Worth considering is the fact that Alonso’s updated chassis was only ready for FP3, while Stroll had the updates on his from the start of FP1 in Japan. Despite only one hour to familiarise himself with the changes “Fernando handed Lance the ultimate thrashing” according to our tech guru Mark Kay.

This is not only an embarrassment for the Aston Martin brand mega-bucks Lawrence is trying to build, but also a wake-up call for him to take this mega project seriously or hand it over to someone who will. And that starts with having two top drivers in the seats. Not one.

Many have called it, this author reluctantly so as I believed in the ‘early’ Lance, but now I cave in because it’s high time for Mr Stroll Senior to take his lad Lance for ‘that’ stroll in the park to tell him: “F1’s not for you son. Shall we build you a team for Le Mans instead?”

Big Question: When will the penny drop for the Strolls that Lance is not for F1?