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Why BIZARRE Lance Stroll claim reveals F1 point being missed

Why BIZARRE Lance Stroll claim reveals F1 point being missed

Why BIZARRE Lance Stroll claim reveals F1 point being missed

Why BIZARRE Lance Stroll claim reveals F1 point being missed

What would you expect Formula 1’s official tyre supplier to be doing on a Saturday morning ahead of qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix?

Probably making sure each of the team’s had its full allocation ready to go for the rest of the weekend? Maybe doing some checks on things like pressures and any potential changes in the weather? Perhaps also doing a bit of media work on the various global TV channels?

All sounds about right. One thing you would most definitely not expect them to do is to publish a bizarre fawning editorial on their website in support of one particular driver.

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Except that is exactly what Pirelli has done this weekend.

At breakfast time in the UK the Italian brand posted an article to its official motorsport account on X with the headline ‘Stroll deserves his seat in F1’. Clicking through, readers are met with a pretty short and very peculiar opinion piece defending Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll’s career so far and extolling the virtues of him continuing in Formula 1 for the foreseeable future.

Let’s quickly run through the key questions this immediately throws up. 1) Why is this being published? 2) Why is this being published now? 3) Why is this being published now by an official supplier and partner to Formula 1 as a whole?

Lawrence Stroll is a key figure in the Formula 1 paddock

Stroll’s presence in F1 has long been the subject of controversy. The 25-year-old’s career has been bankrolled by his father Lawrence, the fashion billionaire who at first provided sponsorship to Williams in order to secure his son a place on the grid in 2017, before purchasing the Racing Point team, turning it into Aston Martin and bestowing upon Lance a seemingly permanent seat.

The younger Stroll has been comprehensively outperformed by illustrious team-mates Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in recent seasons and, despite 2024 being his eighth season in the top tier of motorsport, has shown little sign that he is capable of competing at the front of the field in F1.

It would be unfair to claim that Stroll should never have driven in F1. The Canadian has on occasion demonstrated real talent, his finest hour coming at the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix when he qualified on pole in treacherous rain while driving what at the time was the fourth best car on the grid. His one-lap pace and ability in changeable conditions are standout skills of his.

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But his performances and results have, if anything, worsened over time and his tendency to lose concentration and cause dangerous collisions has never abated. Crashes with Alonso at the Circuit of the Americas and compatriot Nicholas Latifi at Albert Park stand out as genuinely reckless lapses which could have led to serious consequences.

Plenty of fans, pundits, and F1 paddock regulars believe that Stroll would no longer be on the grid if his father did not own the team for which he races. And they are probably right, anybody who has been around for as long as Stroll while failing to significantly improve would in all likelihood have been moved along in favour of someone younger many seasons ago.

With that in mind, the Pirelli article is not only contrary to popular opinion in F1, but also comes at a thoroughly odd time.

Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll have been Aston Martin team-mates since the start of 2023

The debate over Stroll’s future is not exactly current – the situation is pretty well understood by most observers and has been going on for years. He has not been put under any kind of public pressure by his team or team-mate, has not been involved in any kind of notable incident on or off track recently, and has not been performing any better or worse than he normally would.

Furthermore, there is plenty of intrigue in the wider driver market, meaning chatter about Stroll’s destiny is arguably quieter this season than it has ever been before. All of that causes one to wonder what on Earth the point of the article is. Pirelli should not be seen to be supporting any one driver or team in particular, and Stroll certainly doesn’t need the backing of a tyre supplier in an online article to help him secure his future.

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Ultimately, though, what its publication and the impassioned reaction of fans online has highlighted is twofold.

The first conclusion is that debate about Stroll’s merit fundamentally does not matter. The state of play means that he will decide when he no longer wants to race in F1 and will not be forced out. Therefore, time and effort spent arguing over his pros and cons is largely futile.

The second is that a major player in F1 whose job is to provide the teams with equal equipment and enable them to race should probably avoid fanning the flames of debates it knows lead to strong reactions from fans.

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