Stroll: Aston Martin made its own luck

Lance Stroll has been plagued by bad luck this season but was smiling after securing third in qualifying for the São Paulo GP

Lance Stroll has been plagued by bad luck this season but was smiling after securing third São Paulo GP qualifying. Image: Russell Batchelor/XPB

Lance Stroll again had a smile on his face after securing third on the grid for the São Paulo Grand Prix, insisting he and Aston Martin made their own luck following a season that has been plagued by misfortune.

With team-mate Fernando Alonso alongside him on the front row, the positions comfortably represent the team’s best overall qualifying performance of the season.

It is only the fourth time Stroll has qualified in the top three in his F1 career, with his last in Turkey in 2020, and only the third time he has out-qualified Alonso this season.

Even more remarkable is that Stroll had never previously gone beyond Q1 in four previous visits to Interlagos, nor out-qualified a team-mate. His task now on Sunday will be to score his first point.

Both cars made it into Q3 on merit before that session was heavily disrupted, turning it into what was effectively a one-lap shootout before a storm hit São Paulo.

Stroll conceded after qualifying that he does not believe the team is “third on paper”, suggesting an element of good fortune as there were no second runs from any driver.

The 25-year-old Canadian, however, felt the team had made the most of the circumstances, notably sending both cars out quickly ahead of Q3, with Stroll and Alonso towards the front of a queue spearheaded by polesitter Max Verstappen in his Red Bull.

“I don’t think we were lucky,” said Stroll. “We did well going at the front of the queue and getting good track position. That was smart with the weather coming in.

“I still really felt like crap in the car because it was really tricky and weird in Q3, and the wind changed direction, so my lap was super messy – lock-ups, missing corners – but in the end, good enough for a top three.

“It also looks like a lot of guys missed their laps, or didn’t get them in for whatever reason, so I think we made our own luck.”

The result follows two difficult races in the United States and Mexico in the wake of a considerable upgrade package that the team has struggled to maximise.

On this occasion, the car and its setup at least suggested a step in the right direction, with Stroll’s grid position in stark contrast to the back-to-back starts from the pitlane in Austin and Mexico City after changes were made under parc fermé.

“The car felt good throughout the whole session, we were competitive, and I felt good in the car,” added Stroll.

“We definitely have a much better car here than we’ve had for a while. The balance was good all day, I felt good grip, and that’s when you can keep improving and tidying things up, so it was definitely a much better day for us than we’ve had in a while.

“We’ll see what we can do in the race but it’s still a huge step from Mexico and Austin. We had a good race in Austin, but Friday and Saturday were difficult, so this is definitely the best quali and pace we’ve had in a long time.”

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