Lance Stroll will be back in the seat for the Aston Martin F1 team for this weekend’s event in Japan, Aston Martin boss Mike Krack emphasized this past weekend in Singapore.
Stroll suffered a hefty impact during Q1 in Singapore after losing control of his AMR23 at the high-speed final corner. He was given the all-clear after a precautionary trip to the medical center, but on Sunday morning he and the team decided not to race after he was “not feeling 100%,” according to Krack.
Aston’s boss retorted that there was “zero” risk of Stroll not climbing back into the car at Suzuka, and went on to defend the Canadian from critics who suggest that he is not fully invested in the sport.
“To go into this corner at that speed, you have to have some commitment, and this is another proof that he fully has it,” Krack said.
Haas back in the points at Singapore; Logan Sargeant struggles
There were mixed fortunes for the American contingent in Formula 1 on Sunday in Singapore.
The Haas F1 Teram, which has struggled dearly with tire degradation in 2023, returned to the top 10 courtesy of Kevin Magnussen. It marked Haas’ first top-10 finish since the Miami Grand Prix way back in May.
Magnussen qualified a strong sixth but slid wide mid-race, believing his hopes had been squandered. The team then gambled on soft tires later on and returned into contention, collecting the final point in the wake of George Russell’s last-lap clash.
Looking forward, Haas is readying a sizeable upgrade for its VF-23, which should be introduced at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, after opting to modify its design concept. Team principal Guenther Steiner conceded at the weekend that Haas hit a dead-end with developing its current concept and decided pre-summer to change its approach.
Logan Sargeant, meanwhile, endured a lackluster weekend as his struggles continue. Sargeant was slightly compromised by running Williams’ older front wing but an error into Turn 8 meant he hit the wall, lost heaps of time, and was compromised thereafter by higher tire degradation due to damage.
“It wasn’t a bad race in terms of pace and throughout the whole weekend,” said Sargeant, who finished 14th. “I need to cut out those small mistakes as it’s such small margins.”
Teammate Alex Albon was in the mix for eighth place until being forced wide by Sergio Perez, a move for which the Red Bull driver was penalized. Albon finished 11th.
Rouge Lizard Livens Up FP1
There was some excitement during a relatively mundane opening practice session on Friday.
The session was yellow-flagged on three occasions due to a monitor lizard appearing on track at Turn 9, as it languidly made its way across the racing line, evoking memories of when a similar situation occurred in 2016. The lizards are diurnal and consequently are more likely to appear in daytime—when FP1 took place—compared to the night-time qualifying/race hours.
“Ah, there’s a lizard on track,” radioed Max Verstappen after clocking the creature, having quipped in 2016 that he saw Godzilla meandering across the racing line.
“Maybe Godzilla had a kid,” came the deadpan reply of Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.
Unfortunately for the rogue reptile it appeared that its luck ran out during the closing stages of FP1 when it had an interaction with Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin.
Vettel Set for Paddock Return
Sebastian Vettel is set to make an appearance at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
The four-time F1 World Champion, who retired at the end of 2022, has only made a fleeting appearance in Formula 1 this year after a whistle-stop low-key visit to Monaco in May. German media reported in Singapore that Vettel, an environmental advocate who has a strong affinity with Japan, is to travel to Suzuka to help install beehives behind Turn 2, and will be facilitated in this task by a master carpenter.
Vettel took five pole positions at Suzuka, including the last of his career in 2019, and four victories at the circuit during his career.