Will Felipe Drugovich race in the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix after Lance Stroll’s injury?

Felipe Drugovich won the 2022 Formula 2 World Championship, before being signed by Aston Martin.

Following such a positive off-season, Aston Martin have been dealt a massive blow ahead of pre-season testing this week in Bahrain, with Lance Stroll having been ruled out following a “minor accident”.

It was revealed Monday afternoon that the Canadian had been involved in a cycling accident whilst training in Spain; however, it has been stressed by Stroll and the team that the accident wasn’t serious.

Regardless, he has been ruled out of pre-season testing which gets underway on Thursday at the Bahrain International Circuit, meaning he’ll be entering the 2023 season without having driven the AMR23.

It’s certainly a less than ideal start to the season for Stroll, but for the time being the most important thing is the Canadian recovering quickly.

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Aston Martin stated that Stroll is “expecting a quick recovery and return to driving duties” and added: “His fitness to return to the cockpit will be assessed daily and the team will issue an update ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix. The team wishes Lance a speedy recovery and looks forward to his usual energy and commitment within the team.”

Stroll himself said: “I am determined to get back in the car and I am excited about the season ahead with the team. I am motivated to bounce back from this setback as quickly as possible.”

Given that only one car is allowed to be used at any given moment during pre-season testing, Stroll’s accident impacts him more than the team, with the Silverstone-based team being able to use Fernando Alonso for all three days.

Whether Alonso does complete all three days himself, though, is another question, given how intense that’d be for any driver given the little driving he’s had since the season finale last year.

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Alonso did take part in a Pirelli tyre test recently in the team’s 2022 car, so he is perhaps fitter than most heading into pre-season testing.

Despite this, though, should Aston Martin experience no issues, then it’s unlikely that Alonso will complete three full days of running.

Lando Norris was the only McLaren driver to be used during pre-season testing last season, but the Woking-based team’s running was minimal, following several issues.

So, who might Aston Martin use in Stroll’s place?

With reserve driver and ex-F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne in South Africa this weekend for Formula E, and with Mercedes reserve Mick Schumacher being reportedly unavailable according to BILD, all the signs point to a potential pre-season debut for Felipe Drugovich.

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The reigning Formula 2 World Champion was signed by Aston Martin last season and is their reserve driver for 2023, with the Brazilian looking likely to get a chance behind the wheel of the AMR23 in Bahrain, should Alonso not be used for all three days.

Using Drugovich could be massively beneficial to Aston Martin, given that he’ll gain valuable experience prior to any future FP1 appearance.

It means that when it does come to making his first FP1 appearance, he’ll already have an understanding of the car, something which would support better data gathering.