Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Stroll: Aston Martin “haven’t really made a big step”

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In the round-up: Lance Stroll says that Aston Martin’s up-and-down results aren’t down to big changes.

In brief

Changeable Aston Martin results not down to major differences

After a tricky start to the season, Aston Martin recorded very strong results in Monaco, Azerbaijan and Paul Ricard. However, both drivers finished outside the points at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Stroll said that there had been no significant changes in the team, it came down to weekend-by-weekend specifics that improved or worsened the teams’ pace.

“Yeah, we’re kind of the same, we haven’t really made a big step with it,” he explained, after the Styrian Grand Prix. “If we do a good job we score some points but when it doesn’t go our way we’re outside the points, it’s like we’re around there.”

“Some answers” to Ricciardo pace struggles

Daniel Ricciardo said that the improvements to his pace at McLaren had come at a big toll of effort for him to adapt to the car.

“There’s some answers,” he said about his difficulty finding pace in the McLaren car. “I think what we’ve discovered is I’ve made progress.

“It just now needs to come still with more subconscious energy, [there] is still a lot of thought going into it. And although I’ve made progress, there’s still a lot of energy being consumed to make this progress.

“So maybe that is now holding me back from finding the edge in the car.

“We’ll still keep looking into it, see what we can do as well, with set up and improve some things, but I just have to keep positive and try to enjoy it.”

Alonso not concerned Williams will challenge Alpine

After fighting George Russell for the final points-paying place in the last laps of the Austrian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso said he didn’t believe Williams’ recently improved form would carry through to other circuits.

“They made a step forward,” Alonso agreed. “But also we checked [and] last year in Austria, they started 11th. So it seems [to be] a circuit that they are performing really well [at]. So I think we need to wait a couple of races to see if they are that fast or not.

“I think last weekend they were closer to us. I think this weekend we had a little bit more margin,” he said, comparing the Styrian and Austrian grand prix. “I’m happy with the progress that we made in these two weeks.

“It’s up to us now to keep it into Silverstone. If we can repeat this kind of performance, because this will put us top seven, top eight and that’s a step forward, for sure.”

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Comment of the day

After Elliot looked at the difficulties of moving from IndyCar to F1, Tater argues that plenty of the current field could do well if they found a way to make the switch.

Plenty of current IndyCar drivers could do well in F1 if they were in a good team. Plenty of current F1 drivers could do well in IndyCar if they were in a good team.

It takes some time to transfer, but a good open wheel driver is a good open wheel driver.

Look at past examples like Andretti, Fittipaldi, Clark, Hill, Villenueve, Mansell, Montoya, Rossi, etc. If anything, Indy cars are harder to drive with the more even field and lack of power steering. One of the current young guns like O’Ward, Herta or Palou could move to F1 and do well there.

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 13 comments on “Stroll: Aston Martin “haven’t really made a big step””

    1. I’m not surprised that AM haven’t made a big step this year, nor did I expect much given that this years cars were really just an evolution of last years.

      The only ones that really have done so have been those where they gained the benefit of a change in PU (Mclaren) or a much improved PU (Ferrari based or Honda based) as the PU offerings from both have been improved massively on their 2020 ones.

      Nice to see that all the PU’s have finally achieved some sort of parity – it was far too long in coming and has improved competition right through the field.

    2. Poor Ricciardo. Seems really lost with a difficult car, but then maybe Norris really is that good.

      A little OT, but I find it interesting that the top new guys Verstappen, Norris, Leclerc are all hardcore simracers. Maybe endless hours racing all kinds of cars and setups virtually has taught them to adapt much better. I haven’t heard them talk about their F1 cars needing to suit their style better like is not uncommon with others.

      1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        10th July 2021, 8:22

        Well said, the sim racing is an great point. I drive online regularly and drive a different car every day. Rear wheel drive monsters, four wheel drive animals, front wheel drive chicken-chasers, F1, tin-top and everything in between. Sometimes set up time is limited or not even allowed. One thing you learn very quickly is to adapt, find your cars strengths and use them.

      2. I believe it is perfectly possible that Lando Norris is indeed ‘that good.’ Looking at Carlos Sainz’s career, we can see that, despite the points gap, he really was not far off Verstappen’s pace when they were teammates. They were extremely closely matched, although Sainz did have the advantage of age. Then, Verstappen was paired with Ricciardo, and Sainz was paired with Kvyat. While Ricciardo initially got the better of Verstappen, he had a lot more experience, and I would say Max got the upper hand by 2017, and by the end of 2018 was further ahead of Ricciardo than he was against Sainz. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz absolutely annihilated an admittedly dejected Kvyat, outscoring him 90-8 in their two years as teammates. So this all points to the idea that Sainz was a better driver than Ricciardo. The thing that contradicts this is Sainz’s poor season against Hulkenberg, but maybe this can simply be explained as a poor season, much in the same way as Ricciardo is struggling now. For whatever reason, Sainz may not have gelled with Renault, or the car, and this does happen to F1 drivers. In 2019, Ricciardo was ahead of Hulkenberg, although not by a huge amount, and Hulkenberg was indeed a strong driver. Meanwhile, Sainz was paired with rookie Norris in McLaren. It appeared that both were good drivers, but not outstanding ones, as they were extremely closely matched for two years, but then Sainz moved to Ferrari in 2021. This year, we’ve seen Sainz do a very respectable job against Charles Leclerc. He hasn’t quite been at the same level as Leclerc, but maybe this is because Leclerc also really is ‘that good.’ Last year, he utterly destroyed four-time champion Sebastian Vettel. At the time, most people (including me) blamed this on problems in the Vettel camp, maybe down to a lack of motivation or a lack of support. This definitely was part of the problem, but I think we can also safely say that Leclerc was freakishly quick last season. So Leclerc is also extremely good, and Sainz is just off that. Lando Norris is now paired with Ricciardo, and has dominated in the first part of this season. He is also very young, and only in his third season so is still improving. It makes sense that he is stepped up a notch this season and is now better than Sainz. Ricciardo is definitely struggling with adapting to the car, but even when he does, I don’t think he will be on Norris’ pace, or even particularly close to it, as I think past seasons have shown (with Sainz in 2018 the anomalous result) that Sainz is a stronger driver than Ricciardo. Verstappen, who was his teammate at the start of their careers and was only slightly better, is now surely the best driver on the grid, and this further supports the argument that Sainz is a very good driver, and therefore Leclerc and Norris are outstanding drivers, while Ricciardo is only a good driver.

        1. that Leclerc was freakishly quick last season.

          And you do not have an idea why?
          Spoiler alert:
          Illegal engine.

          1. erikje, that reference to “last season” means that he is referring to the 2020 season – the context of the post makes that rather clear.

          2. Spoiler alert: Ferrari were noobs.

      3. @balue
        Fun fact: Ricciardo was actually asked in an interview by AMuS, if the fact Norris does lots of simracing may be a reason he gets more out of the car than Ricciardo himself. Even Norris says this season’s McLaren is more difficult to drive than the previous one.
        Ricciardo also claimed in that interview that he has troubles with consistency, i.e. one lap he gets a specific corner right, but the next lap he doesn’t. He isn’t able to use his instincts in a way he could at RB or Renault and sometimes has to think how to approach a specific corner and that looses him valuable time.

        The Mercedes PU also might be rather difficult to handle. After all, Ricciardo has only driven Renault PUs since 2014, so he has no previous experience with Mercedes. According to Nico Hülkenberg, the Mercedes PU hasn’t got great driveability in lower gears and that might hurt Ricciardo’s drving style, because he has to hesitate to get on the throttle. This could also hint to Vettel’s earlier struggles this season.

    3. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      10th July 2021, 8:26

      er… stating the obvious here but, fairness, equal opportunities and very importantly, a range of differing perspectives so decision making will be better.

    4. Re Aston Martin: That means they won’t do a Turkey 2020 qualifying repeat, unless…
      Re Ricciardo: It’s just not easy with Lando as of now.
      Re Alonso: Besides the impossible moment where Australia fended off Finland 19 years ago, the other impossible moment was Germany vs Mexico 5 years ago. By the way, it was backmarker vs backmarker.
      Re IndyCar viewership: Gains.

      1. Also on this day outside of motorsport, Portugal did the impossible.

    5. Yeah, we’re kind of the same, we haven’t really made a big step with it … If we do a good job we score some points but when it doesn’t go our way we’re outside the points, it’s like we’re around there.

      Some people suspect the current Aston Martin car is more or less an exact copy of a very successful Mercedes car. So for Lance to be blaming their lack of performance on ambiguous things, e.g. “when it doesn’t go our way”, makes one suspect there is a bit more involved than just the car. One can’t but help suspect part of the blame goes comes back to the driver. My advice to Lance is to do lots of homework. My advice to Lawrence (who I’m sure has enough sense to ignore it) is to get George Russell and let the Team Principal and his other two drivers sort out who deserves to stay and who gets relegated back to Williams.

    6. Also, on this day in F1: 2011 British GP 10th anniversary, the only race Alonso won that season.

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