‘Not in the Best Place Mentally’ – Lance Stroll Blames His Mid-Season F1 Struggles on COVID Diagnosis

Published 03/08/2021, 5:27 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Portuguese Grand Prix – Algarve International Circuit, Portimao, Portugal – Racing Point’s Lance Stroll during the press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS


Racing Point had a dreadful luck with the deadly coronavirus last season. Not only did both of their regular drivers have to miss the race weekends, but also, according to Lance Stroll, the virus took a mental and physical toll on fitness for the subsequent F1 races.

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Stroll tested positive for COVID for the Eifel GP at Nurburgring, and the team replaced him with Nico Hulkenberg. Afterwards, he reported a negative test and took his place in the cockpit for the following races.

Formula One F1 – Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Racing Point’s Lance Stroll crashes out. Pool via REUTERS/Giuseppe Cacace

However, his return was far from ideal. At the Portuguese GP, he retired after a collision with Lando Norris, whereas he knocked over a mechanic in the pits on his way to a disappointing 13th place finish at Imola. Speaking at the Aston Martin car launch, he blamed his poor form on the lingering after-effects.

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“It probably affected me quite a bit for the following two Grands Prix. Just no energy, physically, and not in the best place mentally. I think I underestimated how much of a toll the virus would take on me, and I did struggle physically in those races.”

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Racing Point reacts in parc ferme during the F1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone in Northampton, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Lance Stroll rues not finishing third in constructors’ championship last season

There was more disappointment to follow because of COVID in what was a largely positive campaign for them. Even though Stroll recovered his best form to grab a maiden pole in Turkey, the damage had already been done.

His teammate Sergio Perez too had to miss the two rounds in England because of his positive test. While they were cruising in third for the most part of the season, McLaren finished strongly and leapfrogged them in the standings.

“But we lost a lot of world championship points, there’s definitely a lot of things to learn from that experience. On a positive note, we did finish off the season much stronger, but I think the competition was much stronger towards the end of the year,” said Stroll.

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Formula One F1 – Russian Grand Prix – Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia – September 24, 2020 Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll in the paddock ahead of the Grand Prix REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

“Not the same as the beginning of the season, where we were often cruising fourth and fifth with both cars, sometimes even better than that. The game changed, the competition between the teams, and I think it’s going to be a very competitive midfield once again.”

Stroll & Co. will be hoping to put things right in the upcoming season. Together with Sebastian Vettel, they would aim to achieve their targets at the end of 2021.

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Bharat Aggarwal

753 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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