until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Drugovich will replace Stroll if he can’t race in Bahrain GP

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

Aston Martin has zeroed in on Felipe Drugovich as its favoured Lance Stroll replacement for Formula 1’s 2023 season opener in Bahrain – but is still hoping Stroll can make the race.

The Canadian injured himself in a bicycle accident in Spain, and Aston has been reliably non-committal on whether what has been described as a wrist injury will heal enough to give him a good chance of contesting the season opener.

In the meantime, Formula 2 champion Drugovich – added to Aston’s ranks late last year – was called up for the pre-season test at the same venue, driving in two of the six sessions across three days.

All the while, Aston would not confirm the seat would be Drugovich’s if Stroll remained unfit, with fellow Aston reserve Stoffel Vandoorne also an option and the retired Sebastian Vettel being mooted as a possibility.

Yet team principal Mike Krack was highly complimentary of Drugovich’s efforts on Saturday – describing his driving as “flawless” – and it now looks like the team has seen enough to make him the definitive fallback, at least for Bahrain.

“If you have watched there was not one wheel lock, there was not an apex missed or something like that,” Krack said of watching Drugovich on the third day.

“So we’re very happy with what he has done.”

When Krack last spoke to the media, Aston was gearing up to give Stroll a run in the simulator to assess his fitness.

“The team will continue to give Lance every chance to race, pending recovery from his injury. Should he not be fit to compete, then Felipe will drive the AMR23 alongside Fernando [Alonso],” Aston wrote.

If Stroll does remain sidelined, Drugovich be the first Brazilian to start an F1 race since Pietro Fittipaldi stood in for the injured Romain Grosjean at Haas at the end of 2020.

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