Stroll brands late-season penalties ‘coincidental’

Lance Stroll defends against Sebastian Vettel in Interlagos

Lance Stroll defends against Sebastian Vettel in Interlagos

Lance Stroll described his brace of late-season penalties for clashes with Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel as coincidental.

Stroll was penalised twice for moving late while defending, in the first instance against Alonso at the United States Grand Prix and for a similar move when challenged by team-mate Vettel during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix Sprint.

Both incidents coincided with a general upturn in performance from Aston Martin, which endured a slow start to the season.

A B-spec car was introduced for the Spanish Grand Prix after the squad realised its initial concept had sent it down a development cul-de-sac.

Improved performances followed in the back half of the 2022 season, which saw Stroll and team-mate Vettel battling for points with increasing frequency.

Asked by if the fact he was battling for potentially more rewarding positions influenced the voracity with which he defended, Stroll suggested the penalties were merely coincidental.

“No, I think that’s just racing,” he said.

“It could have happened earlier in the year fighting for 13th.

“Realistically, when I look back at Sao Paulo, I was on the backfoot. Seb had better pace and we were – I was – in a good position at that point and made a move.

“I wasn’t trying to purposefully be aggressive or anything, it was just a move that I thought I can make.

“Ultimately, it was a bit late and he was there.

“And then, with Fernando, that was just racing,” he added.

“Trying to defend for position and we made contact.

“Every race, I try and fight for everything I can get out of the car.

“That’s just kind of a coincidence that has happened the last couple of races rather than early in the year.

“Those things can happen at any point in any race.”

Aston recovered to seventh in the constructors’ championship, with a run of 11 points finishes in the final 11 races.

It ended the year tied on points with Alfa Romeo Sauber, though the Swiss squad was classified ahead courtesy of Valtteri Bottas’ fifth in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Stroll finished 15th in the championship with 18 points to his name, equalling his worst result with his current squad after finishing in the same position in 2019 (when the team was known as Racing Point).

Alonso joins Aston Martin for the 2023 season, the Spaniard replacing four-time champ Vettel, who retired at the end of the 2022 campaign.

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