While the Formula 1 driver lineup likely won’t change from 2023 to 2024, there is a team other than Williams that should reconsider their roster.
The 2024 Formula 1 driver lineup is expected to look largely the same as this year’s, with the only change thus far being that Daniel Ricciardo is set to start the season at AlphaTauri after arriving on the scene this year as a mid-season replacement for rookie Nyck de Vries.
There is also still a chance that Williams will make a change, with rookie Logan Sargeant being both on the hot seat and on top of the “world destructor championship” standings amid a run of recent wrecks.
However, the Grove-based team have indicated that they would like for him to return for a second season alongside Alex Albon in 2024, and with Liam Lawson having all but ruled out a move to any non-Red Bull-affiliated organization amid his impressive ongoing stint as the replacement for the injured Ricciardo at AlphaTauri, we very well could see all 20 full-time drivers back in 2024.
But even aside from Williams, there is another Formula 1 team that may need to make a driver change sooner rather than later.
At some point, Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll is going to need to realize that he is not going to build a winner as long as he has his Lance son in one of his cars.
Stroll’s investment in his son’s Formula 1 career is second to none. If you thought spending $80 million for his first seat with Williams in 2017 was a lot, make note of the fact that he literally bought an existing team in 2020 and has put Lance in one of the cars from 2021.
While critics have always viewed Stroll has a pay driver, his performances over the years, specifically compared to his teammates (i.e. faring relatively well against four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel), have justified his prolonged stay. But that has not been the case this year.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso has absolutely blown Lance out of the water throughout the 2023 season. While the 32-time race winner is quick to praise his teammate, on-track performance speaks louder than praise (especially when the individual you’re praising is the boss’s son).
Aston Martin are an organization that took a huge step forward following disappointing seasons in 2021 and 2022. They established themselves as the early favorites to finish second behind Red Bull in this year’s constructor standings, with Alonso having been beaten by a non-Red Bull driver just once in the season’s first six races.
In those six races, Alonso scored five podium finishes and recorded an average finish of 3.0. But Stroll finished no higher than fourth, scored just two other points finishes, recorded an average finish of 11.5, and suffered two retirements, one due to a crash and another due to a mechanical issue that was out of his control.
Since then, Aston Martin have taken a step back in performance, with Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren all having improved. But still, Alonso has recorded an average finish of 6.9 with two podium finishes and just one non-points effort in 10 starts since, while Stroll has just a single top eight finish and an average finish of 12.2 (11.3 excluding his missed Singapore start).
Through 16 races, Alonso leads his teammate in the driver standings 174-47 and is responsible for all seven of the team’s podium finishes.
At some point, Lawrence Stroll is going to need to pull the plug if his Formula 1 aspirations truly go beyond watching his son’s career.
I know we’re talking about a two-time world champion, but the fact that a formerly retired 42-year-old driver who went three seasons between Formula 1 starts is showing up Stroll on a consistent basis — and in his first season with the team — speaks for itself.
Given the fact that Alonso has only just lost third place in the driver standings to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton for the first time this year, Aston Martin should be no lower than third place in the constructor standings.
Yet they sit in what has quickly become a distant fourth, and they could very well fall to fifth amid a McLaren resurgence that has them looking like the new best non-Red Bull team.
The details of the younger Stroll’s contracts have never been publicized, with the general belief being that he has a year-to-year deal which allows him to stay with his father’s team as long as he wants to. But at this point, perhaps it’s time for both him and his father to reconsider.