We all knew that Lance Stroll was under the pump a bit this season following a breathtaking start by Aston Martin teammate Fernando Alonso, but few would have imagined just how severely it has impacted the Canadian.
On the back of looking completely out of sorts compared to the 42-year-old Alonso, Lance has reportedly decided to end his F1 career in pursuit of a career in tennis.
Lance may not be among the best in the sport, but he does still have three podiums to his name since arriving in the sport with Williams back in 2017.
Stroll seemed to be giving a good account of himself last year, when he was driving alongside four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, but he has noticeably been off the pace compared to Alonso this term.
The 24-year-old has managed a season-best of P4 compared to the six podium finishes that Alonso has bagged so far. A closer look at the drivers’ standings shows just how far he sits compared to his Spanish teammate (102 points behind).
There have been regular question marks surrounding just how committed or motivated Lance is to stay in the sport, with many believing that he has enjoyed an easy ride owing to his father Lawrence Stroll’s presence as team boss.
Despite spending seven years in the sport, Lance now seems to believe that he has had enough.
While this is nothing new for F1 drivers and there have been others in the past who have also called time at an early age, few opt to change their careers quite as dramatically as Lance.
Lance’s mooted interest in becoming a professional tennis athlete instead of F1 driver has been supported by respected journalist Ben Anderson.
Anderson said: “[Stroll] is too far behind Alonso but, really, he’s only likely to leave that team voluntarily – he’s on a rolling contract in his dad’s organisation.
“There’s been some rumours floating around that he’s considering a switch to tennis, so if he makes a career switch like that that opens up the seat.
“That said, I don’t think he’s keeping anyone off the grid who truly belongs there, I just think maybe he should be slightly lower down.”
Anderson pointed out some potential options that Aston Martin would be willing to look at to replace Lance.
“If the seat were theoretically to come up for 2024/25, [there’s] probably a few ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in that queue: Albon, Tsunoda has already been mentioned as somebody Honda [Aston Martin’s engine partner from 2026] would potentially like to bring onboard down the line,” he said.
“Even someone like Oscar Piastri, who’s making waves as a rookie: once his original McLaren contract comes up he’d be someone you’d look at very seriously, especially in Aston Martin’s situation when you’ve got Alonso as established team leader but ageing and not likely to continue much beyond ’25.
“So Ricciardo, yes, big commercial appeal and popularity – but he’s got a long way to go still to restore his reputation to really compete for a top drive, although he would be a credible asset to most F1 teams.”
If Lance really is to leave Aston Martin, it would invariably add to question marks surrounding the continued presence of his father Lawrence.
Lawrence Stroll has had a significant impact in propelling Aston Martin into the top of the field, having assumed control in 2018.
Not only has Aston Martin been the main surprise package of this season, the team’s F1 future seems to be safe as well, with a new state-of-the-art factory already in operation.
However, the luxury car brand has been suffering away from the F1 track, with reports emerging in March that the company suffered £495 million in 2022.