Lance Stroll expects Aston Martin to face a tough battle trying to hold onto a podium spot despite both cars qualifying in the top four for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
Aston Martin’s recent form has seen the team struggling to reach Q3, but after removing the majority of its recent upgraded parts for the sprint weekend it delivered a strong performance throughout Friday. Stroll outqualified Fernando Alonso to secure a spot on the top three as heavy rain closed in at Interlagos but he feels there are quicker race cars that will be a threat come Sunday.
“It was a good result today,” Stroll said. “I mean, we’re aiming for a podium; I think it’s going to be tricky though. I don’t think we have the third-quickest car. The McLarens are going to be quick on Sunday and we were fortunate with the rain coming in — we got a lap in early and I don’t think everyone got their laps in. I’m sure (Sergio) Perez is going to be coming through the field and the McLarens, but we’ll see what we can do.
“The car was feeling good throughout the session. Q3 was very tricky; my lap was pretty bad, but I think conditions changed a lot, I was missing many apexes, but, in the end, it was good enough for a top three, which is a great result.”
With the sprint still to follow on Saturday, Stroll was also positive about his chances of another competitive showing given how comfortable he was in the Aston Martin.
“We can’t change much on the car but I was feeling good in the car today, so there’s not much I would change,” he said. “It felt pretty good throughout qualifying.”
Teammate Alonso says the result was important for Aston Martin both as a boost for the team’s morale and to answer critics after a tough run of form.
“We needed it,” Alonso said. “I think the last two grands prix we were experimenting a little bit, we were starting from the pit lane and that kind of thing, so we needed a good result in Brazil to give us a bit of hope. This proves that we understood a few things and we are quite competitive — this proves that we know what we are doing and I’m happy with that.
“I hope it’s just a clean weekend. A good sprint tomorrow and then on Sunday, obviously we have a very good position to start the race. Maybe no more rain — hopefully tomorrow a sunny day so people can enjoy more.”