Lance Stroll feels Aston Martin’s race pace was vital in securing fifth place in Saturday night’s 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix as he finished in the top five in back-to-back events.
Starting 19th after receiving a five-place grid penalty for overtaking under yellow flags in FP3, Stroll vaulted up to ninth by the end of Lap 1 before the virtual safety car came out due to debris caused by several cars making contact at the start.
An early pitstop on Lap 3 helped Stroll jump up to second behind former teammate Sergio Perez before his second stop under the second safety car period on Lap 27, dropping him back to seventh.
On fresh hards, Stroll quietly reeled in Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly to finish an excellent fifth and secure his third top-five finish of 2023.
“A lot of guys pitted under the virtual safety car the beginning or the safety car, so I don’t think that’s really when the race came to us,” explained Stroll to the media. “I think Lap 1 was really good gained 10 positions with a lot of guys going wide into Turn 1.
“From there, just really good pace in the car today, I felt like we were kind of on the front foot attacking throughout the whole race, but I think we’ve just generally been more of a Sunday car this year compared to Saturday’s.
“Which I think has been a trend so yesterday, tricky to fight with some cars, like Haas, Alpine and Alfa Romeo and then today, and I think that’s been a bit of a trend, throughout the year just a very good car on Sunday.”
Good for the sport to have Las Vegas on the calendar
The first Formula 1 Grand Prix in Las Vegas since 1982 had suffered teething troubles during the weekend due to manhole covers coming loose in FP1, and in FP2, fans were kicked out during the session.
Wednesday’s opening ceremony, which saw performances from artists like Swedish house mafia before the drivers were introduced to the crowd, was panned by Max Verstappen, who said he felt like a ‘clown’ during the show.
Despite the backlash from fans and drivers alike, the organisers have already opened ticket sales for 2024, with fans required to deposit $250 to secure grandstand seats for next year’s Las Vegas GP.
“It’s good for the sport to have, you know, a few races like this where put on a big show for F1 and everyone watching,” explained Stroll. “It’s great for the business. It attracts a lot of people and fans to the race.
“3am in FP2 just doesn’t work for me. It’s past my bedtime, I think maybe we got to pull everything a little forward. Do I want to be jumping up and dancing to Diplo or whoever it was Tiesto every single weekend? No, not really, but occasionally, it’s fun for the show.”