Pundits have singled out Lance Stroll as Aston Martin's main headache this year.
The Silverstone-based team were the big surprise during the first half of the season, making a significant leap in quality from 2022 and establishing themselves as the second-best outfit behind Red Bull.
Fernando Alonso secured six podiums in the first half of the season, along with a strong second-place finish in the Dutch Grand Prix. However, the team has gradually lost momentum and been overtaken by their rivals.
Despite being the second-best side in the podium stakes, just behind Red Bull, Aston Martin have now been surpassed by Ferrari and Mercedes in the constructor's championship, with McLaren also closing in.
Alonso is certainly carrying the weight of the team, scoring almost 80 per cent of the points so far, with Stroll's lack of performance their biggest issue.
"Aston Martin misses the speed of the Canadian, who can help not only with points, which is very important, but also with the speed and car setup work during the weekend," Albert Fabrega said during Friday's DAZN broadcast.
Antonio Lobato then added: "The truth is that Lance Stroll's contribution is necessary first for him and, above all, for the team because they need two soldiers scoring points.
"The rest of the rivals have both of their drivers contributing points: McLaren, Ferrari, and Mercedes.”
Engineer Toni Cuquerella provided the key insight, stating that while it's not necessary to have two stars in a team, it is important that both drivers can consistently score points.
"In any other team, what you always look for in the driver lineup is that commitment. Perhaps there are no stars, but there are two point scorers, where one achieves good results and the other accumulates points," he said.
"In Aston Martin, this discourse is different. It's futile to suggest that Aston Martin should reconsider changing the driver lineup so that both drivers contribute.”
Lobato, however, believes Stroll is not at risk of losing his seat.
"What they are trying to do is cure the second driver of his problems and lack of self-confidence," he said. "It is what it is, and there won't be a replacement."
In Japan, Alonso once again was the only Aston Martin driver to score points, while Stroll had to retire due to technical issues. The Canadian was in twelfth place and had gained five positions early in the race before his retirement.
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