Stoffel Vandoorne says he expects Felipe Drugovich to race in 2023 Bahrain GP

Lance Stroll was forced to withdraw from Bahrain’s pre-season testing following a cycling injury which he picked up in Spain.

Aston Martin’s pre-season preparations took a massive hit earlier this week after it was revealed that Lance Stroll would be unable to take part in any of the pre-season testing in Bahrain.

The Canadian was reportedly spotted leaving a hospital in Spain with a cast on his arm and Stroll later revealed on his social media that he had picked up an injury while training for the upcoming season on his bicycle.

Aston Martin have drafted in Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich to replace Stroll during pre-season testing, with the Brazilian more than capable of acting as Aston Martin’s substitute driver this season.

The team would most likely have preferred to have called up their other reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne to replace Stroll however, with the Belgian’s experience in F1 being a useful tool for pre-season testing.

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Vandoorne is unfortunately unavailable for Aston Martin however, with the 30-year-old currently being in Cape Town ahead of the upcoming Formula E race.

With Drugovich now tipped top stand in for Stroll at the Bahrain Grand Prix, should the Canadian not recover in time, Vandoorne has opened up on the frustrations of not being able to make another appearance in F1.

“We discussed the situation, but I knew it and the team knew it – I would not be able to do the testing in Bahrain unfortunately,” he told Belgian broadcaster RTBF.

“It’s quite a difficult scenario for me. If Lance is not available, I wouldn’t be surprised if Felipe did the race.

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“It’s a little frustrating for me, but on the other hand I understand it. He will have done all the testing. He will have had the best preparation.”

While Drugovich and Fernando Alonso are set to share the first day of pre-season testing, Aston Martin are yet to confirm their schedule for Friday and Saturday’s tests.

Both Aston Martin and Stroll are reportedly confident of the driver recovering in time for the Bahrain Grand Prix, with the team strongly hoping to not begin the season without one of their drivers for the second year in a row, with Sebastian Vettel missing the first two races of last season with COVID.