Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer is adamant Lance Stroll deserves his place in Formula 1 next year on merit and not simply because of the get-out clause in Sergio Perez's contract.
Following last week's announcement that the team had signed Sebastian Vettel for next season and beyond, Szafnauer stated that Perez was being released due to the fact that "Checo had options in his contract and those options didn't exist for Lance".
With Stroll also being the son of team owner Lawrence, it came as no surprise that Perez was the driver to make way for Vettel.
Szafnauer, though, feels Stroll has been harshly treated over the situation and has proven this year he is more than capable.
"Lance is still young and only in his second season with this team," said Szafnauer. "He's in the ascendancy and enjoying his strongest year in the sport so far.
"Prior to his unfortunate accident on Sunday at Mugello, he was sitting fourth in the championship off the back of a podium [at the Italian Grand Prix}, and there is more potential to come.
"He's clearly demonstrating his talent and is fully deserving of his place alongside Sebastian next year."
Stroll was on course for a strong finish in the Tuscan Grand Prix as he was running in fourth when he sustained a puncture that sent him hurtling off into a barrier.
The Canadian now sits sixth in the drivers' standings, 13 points ahead of Perez, albeit he missed the two races at Silverstone after testing positive for Covid-19.
Szafnauer has insisted that Lawrence Stroll canvassed opinion from within the team over whether to sign Vettel before dispensing with Perez's services.
"The idea came up after Ferrari announced that Sebastian wouldn't be racing there next year and we saw that as an opportunity," added Szafnauer.
"Lawrence does have a big say in what the team does as he is the majority owner, but he does have other people that he asks their opinions and it was a collective decision in the end."
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