Aston Martin has kept open the possibility of Sebastian Vettel making a return to the team for the Bahrain Grand Prix, as Lance Stroll may miss the season opener due to a wrist injury he sustained while cycling.
The team had planned to bring in Formula 2 champion and development driver Felipe Drugovich as a replacement for Stroll after his absence during pre-season testing. However, following the conclusion of the testing on Saturday, Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack admitted that he has spoken with Vettel regarding the possibility of him returning to the team.
Krack said, “I have spoken to Sebastian a couple of times. This happened last year and will continue to happen in the future.” When asked if Vettel expressed any interest in driving, Krack remained tight-lipped, saying, “I won’t tell you.”
Vettel retired at the end of last season after two underwhelming years with Aston Martin, during which the team struggled to provide him with a competitive car. He won four consecutive World Championships with Red Bull from 2010-2013 and then moved to Ferrari in 2015.
Krack said that the team’s first choice is to have Stroll back in the car, but they are still uncertain of the severity of his injury, leading some to speculate that Vettel might return for the second race of the season in Saudi Arabia on March 19, which would give him more time to prepare.
Krack added, “Our plan is to have Lance in the car. We have Bahrain first before we speak about Jeddah. We have not made the final decision. He had a very thorough retirement plan in mind, and we respect that. We’ll see what happens.”
Aston Martin has not released much information about Stroll’s injury, saying only that he sustained it while cycling. Krack himself was unsure of Stroll’s status, saying, “I honestly don’t know at this point. He’s our Plan A, but we have to wait and see what he says and what the doctors say.”
Krack also compared Stroll’s situation to that of injured football players, saying, “It’s like in football, you have players that are a little bit injured, and you wait for the last moment, and then you decide if they can play or not. We have some Plan Bs, but we have to decide when Plan A is not possible. Can he drive or not?”