SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP)Lance Stroll is set to drive for Aston Martin at the Bahrain Grand Prix this week after missing Formula One preseason testing due to a wrist injury.
Reserve driver Felipe Drugovich replaced Stroll as the teammate to Fernando Alonso in testing after the Canadian’s accident while training in Spain. Aston Martin said on Thursday Stroll was back.
“It was frustrating not to be out in Bahrain for the preseason test and I was disappointed to miss the three days of running,” Stroll said. “However, given the injury to my wrist, the team and I felt it was best to focus on recovery so that I would be ready for this weekend and the long season ahead.”
In Stroll’s absence, Alonso and Drugovich produced some fast times in testing to indicate Aston Martin could have the pace to lead the mid-pack teams or perhaps challenge the likes of Mercedes or Ferrari.
Stroll worked hard to recover in time for the season opener.
“I fell from my bike when my tire caught a hole in the ground,” he said. “Thankfully, the damage was not significant. It was an unfortunate.”
Doctors have cleared him to drive after minor surgery on his right wrist, even though there’s a little “discomfort.” He’s confident there’ll be no more setbacks.
“If I felt like it was not smart, if I felt like it was a risk of injuring myself more, or if I felt like my bones weren’t ready, I wouldn’t do it,” he said. “Formula One is a long season, there’s 23 races. It’s not all about being here in Bahrain, but I do feel confident, the doctors feel confident.”
Intense simulator work reassured him.
“I was in the sim yesterday, the day before, I’m feeling pretty strong,” he said. “We turned up the steering strength and I felt good winding on the lock and going over bumps.”
Stroll is racing with a new teammate this year after the 41-year-old Alonso joined from Alpine. The two-time F1 champion praised Stroll’s determination to make it back in time.
“That shows his desire to win and motivation to win,” Alonso said. “Fighting for whatever position we can achieve this weekend, he’s here and ready to try, so that’s a very good sign.”
Formula Two champion Drugovich and another reserve, former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne, will remain at the track in Bahrain.
Stroll, the son of businessman and Aston Martin executive chairman Lawrence Stroll, is heading into his seventh F1 season and has three career podium finishes.
Practice begins on Friday in Bahrain before the race on Sunday.
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