Former Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher has expressed concerns over the philosophy that Lawrence Stroll has adopted at Aston Martin, insisting that the equation to competing in F1 is not simply solved by money.
Aston Martin managed 16 points finishes between Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll in 2021, and the German’s podium in Baku did little to detract from the underwhelming performance of the car last season as they slumped to seventh in the Constructors’ Championship.
This season has not gotten off to the best of starts either.
The car looked a handful during pre-season testing in Barcelona and Bahrain, before a positive COVID-19 test for Vettel meant that reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg was rushed in at the eleventh hour to replace him for the opening round of the season in Sakhir.
Despite not having partaken in a grand prix event since the Eifel Grand Prix in 2020, the 34-year-old put in a strong qualifying display, ending Saturday’s session ahead of Stroll.
As a result, Schumacher is wondering if the Canadian belongs in the pinnacle of motorsport in a scathing review of his performance.
“Stroll should ask himself whether he should find a different hobby. It was really embarrassing. Nico did a good job,” he said.
The situation at Aston Martin looks dire after they ended the season-opener P12 through Stroll and P17 through Hulkenberg, and morale at the Silverstone squad has already taken a severe plunge.
It was described as a “climate of anxiety” by journalist Michael Schmidt as a result of owner Stroll’s “short fuse,” and Schumacher believes that the presence of so many key figures, such as Lawrence Stroll, Martin Whitmarsh and Mike Krack, is only exacerbating matters.
“The car is, so we hear, a disaster. And on top of that, apparently the team owner is now also sitting in on the meetings and voicing how things should be done,” he told German show AvD Motor & Sport Magazin.
“If that’s the case, it gets really, really complicated.
“The team have lost the thread. They want to achieve too much too quickly, and that simply doesn’t work in Formula 1.”
Schumacher raced for Toyota between 2005 and 2007 in the midst of their own ambitious project to transition to the pinnacle of motorsport and achieve championship dominance.
The attempted assertions on the grid helped them to eight podiums in eight years and, other than a pole position at the 2009 Bahrain Grand Prix, they never got to close to fulfilling what they had set out to accomplish.
The 46-year-old scored three of those podium finishes, and recalls that the Japanese team, who were even accused of industrial espionage in 2004, tried to pile money into their car in a bid to compete.
The German testifies that, sometimes, the Moneyball approach is a more prudent one than the Yankees style.
“You can’t just take a lot of people and a lot of money, put them in a pot, stir it briefly and then something good comes out,” he explained.
“The team wanted to take a bulldozer approach and that didn’t work at Toyota.”
It is as yet unknown whether Vettel will be back in the car for the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix this weekend, and it is also uncertain where he will end up next year.
He has previously admitted that his future in the sport is partially contingent on Aston Martin’s performance this year, but right now, it appears that Stroll’s five-year title-winning plan is not going all that well.