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Montreal's Lance Stroll finishes seventh in a race without error at Canadian GP

MONTREAL — After some difficult races, Montreal’s Lance Stroll and Aston Martin achieved their best results of the season at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll, of Canada, leads Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg, of Germany, through the Senna corner at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, Sunday, June 9, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — After some difficult races, Montreal’s Lance Stroll and Aston Martin achieved their best results of the season at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Teammate Fernando Alonso finished sixth after a race marked by changing track conditions, while Stroll was seventh for his career-best result on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

“It was a tough track with the conditions, so I’m really satisfied to score points,” Stroll said. “Lots of points, the sixth and seventh positions are really good for the team.”

Stroll had never finished better than ninth in six Formula One races in Montreal, on a circuit where he has always finished in the top 10 whenever he completed the race. This season, his best performance remains his sixth-place finish in Australia.

But what Stroll will remember most is the difficult conditions. Rain appeared before the start, followed by another shower midway through the race, keeping the drivers alert.

"It's probably one of the toughest races I can remember in terms of conditions," Stroll said. "It was difficult to make the right decisions to put the right tires on at the right times. But we did well today, and we stayed on track. That was really the biggest challenge today. In Montreal, small mistakes penalize you very quickly."

With Mercedes' resurgence, fourth place in the Constructors' Championship now seems out of reach for Aston Martin. Mercedes has 124 points, compared to 58 for Aston Martin, which is owned by Stroll’s father, Lawrence.

In the three races before the Montreal stop, RB also scored more points than Aston Martin, causing the Silverstone team to slip to sixth in the standings. However, the 14 points scored by Alonso and Stroll have strengthened their hold on fifth place in the rankings.

Nevertheless, Stroll is cautious about being too optimistic ahead of the three-race schedule in as many weeks. The Spanish, Austrian and British GPs will follow in succession starting on June 23. Those circuits might be less friendly for Aston Martin.

"The circuit suited our car, with straight-line speed and not too much downforce," Stroll said. "We capitalized on a Grand Prix where the car was good all weekend. Barcelona will be a different story."

Stroll's race was marked by on-track battles with Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Japanese Yuki Tsunoda, the two RB drivers.

Starting in ninth, Stroll was never able to close in on Ricciardo. He also complained about tire degradation after about 20 laps. However, an off-track excursion by Logan Sargeant brought out the safety car.

For Stroll, it was somewhat of a reversal of fortune. A year ago he had pitted just before the safety car came out.

With Ricciardo receiving a penalty for a false start, Stroll found himself ahead. Tsunoda was one of three drivers to stay on track, climbing to seventh place. He managed to keep this position ahead of Stroll after the second round of pit stops, this time for dry-weather tires.

However, a wide turn by Tsunoda allowed Stroll to take the lead on lap 53.

"It's our battle," Stroll said. "But I think they're still a bit faster. Yuki was super fast on the old intermediates. I was surprised. But I think we had better strategies than them today."

A collision between Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon caused another neutralization in the second half of the race. On the restart, Stroll maintained his position until the end. He was unable to close in on Alonso and was never threatened by Esteban Ocon or Ricciardo behind him.

Despite the cushion, Stroll needed all his concentration, even refusing his race engineer's instructions to adjust his steering wheel settings.

"Those are big setup changes, and in the conditions, with really just a dry racing line and really not much time to make the changes, I didn't want to do it," Stroll said, laughing.

Clearly happy with the result, Stroll will stay in Montreal for a few days before flying to Europe.

"A little poutine and a little beer tonight," he said, before heading to Aston Martin's quarters for the weekend debrief.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2024.

Tommy Thurber, The Canadian Press