Stroll surprised by pace of “rocketship” Mercedes after the Spanish Grand Prix

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Lance Stroll reflects on a difficult Spanish Grand Prix for Aston Martin and shares his thoughts on the sudden resurgence of Mercedes.

Lance Stroll on track at the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix
Photo credit: Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team

“Red Bull is in another league.”

Aston Martin suffered a difficult weekend in Barcelona, struggling to keep up with Ferrari and the resurgent Mercedes team as well as the dominant Red Bull. Despite this, Lance Stroll was able to secure P6 and 8 points for the team.

Reflecting on his Sunday afternoon, Stroll highlights his lap 1 move on Lewis Hamilton as the standout moment of the race for him, but admits tyre degradation compared to his rivals caused him to fall down the order as the race went on.

“That was definitely the most exciting part of the race,” he said of his lap 1 move on Hamilton. “After that just a lot of degradation and struggling with pace compared to [Mercedes] and Ferrari, and Red Bull is in another league. Yeah, just didn’t have the upper hand today.

“It was [on the limit] yeah. I pulled that one off before around the outside there. So I knew there was a gap and I figured Lewis [Hamilton] would leave me a bit of space, which he did. Then it just put me in a good position going into 5 down the inside.”

“I’m not really sure where they found that pace.”

When asked about the sudden upturn in performance from Mercedes, Stroll admitted he was surprised by their pace, claiming he expected Aston Martin to be the next fastest team after Red Bull. He also seemed surprised by the overall lack of pace shown by Aston Martin given their track record so far in 2023.

“They had a rocketship today,” he quipped. “I’m not really sure where they found that pace. I was, you know, expecting us to be the strongest car after Red Bull. I expected after all the races this year to have pace to do something good today. We just didn’t have it.”

“They just didn’t have any deg…”

Expanding on the lack of overall ace shown by Aston Martin compared to those around them, Stroll believes tyre degradation was their Achilles heel. He notes that his own pace at the beginning of the opening stint seemed more than enough to hold onto his position.

As the stint continued however, he felt as if his tyres went off much quicker than the other cars, specifically noting that Mercedes seemed to show no signs of degradation at all. This is backed up by george Russell’s radio comments during his opening stint, claiming his tyres were still in good condition towards the end of the stint.

“Just deg,” Stroll said when quizzed on what caused the pace difference. “I think they just looked after their tyres really well. It felt like the beginning of the first stint when we were in third I was comfortably keeping that gap to Carlos [Sainz] and even pulling away from Lewis [Hamilton] a little bit.

“Then like five laps into the race, they just didn’t have any deg and I could feel the tyres dropping off, and they were able to just keep pushing on. Even looking at Russell’s race they were able to do that all race, so seemed to just have a really good car today.

“We weren’t as competitive as we hoped to be.”

Elaborating on Aston Martin’s pace, he admits the team were off where they would hope to be. Despite this, however, Stroll can take away a positive weekend following difficult races in both Miami as well as last time out in Monaco.

“I mean, it’s a relative game and definitely today we weren’t as competitive as we hope to be. So we have to look into it and try to come back stronger in a couple of weeks.

“Miami was tough and then Monaco was tough, but we know our reasons. In Formula 1 you go through good weekends and bad weekends, so this was a good one. We hoped we could have done better today but still some good points.”