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Drugovich not guaranteed F1 debut if Stroll doesn’t return for Bahrain GP · RaceFans

Aston Martin reserve driver Felipe Drugovich says both he and Stoffel Vandoorne will be on standby to replace the injured Lance Stroll at next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Drugovich expects the team will wait as late as it can before committing to a replacement for Stroll at the season-opening race, if one is needed. Stroll is missing the three-day test after injuring his hand in a cycling accident last week.

Testing for the new season began at the Bahrain International Circuit today. Drugovich, who shares reserve driver duties at Aston Martin with Vandoorne, did his first laps in the team’s new AMR23 in the early session.

Vandoorne, the former McLaren F1 race driver and reigning Formula E world champion, is not available to participate in this week’s test as he is racing in South Africa. Drugovich says the team currently have not determined which of the two drivers would be asked to step in for Stroll if he does not recover for next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Alexander Albon, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
Gallery: 2023 F1 pre-season testing day one in pictures

“We don’t know yet,” Drugovich admitted. “They’re evaluating it day-by-day, so I don’t even know what’s going to happen. It depends on him as well

“I think me and Stoffel were both assigned to come to this race, to Bahrain. So I think we will both be here and we’ll both be ready if Lance won’t be able to recover.

“But it would be just a choice of the team just before the weekend. It will probably a quite quick one because as Lance’s recovering probably until next week, we’ll make a decision.”

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Drugovich covered the fewest laps of all 10 drivers in the earlier session after stopping on-track in the opening 10 minutes, triggering the only red flag suspension of the day.

Felipe Drugovich, Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test
An electrical problem interrupted Drugovich’s running

“We had a few electrical issues,” he explained. “Actually just one, but they took quite a bit of time just to get it fixed. But it was pretty straightforward – an easy thing.

“After that we got going. Lots of tests for the team. Exciting for me, exciting times. Obviously, I need to wish a speedy recovery to Lance, but while I’m here I’m having fun and trying to help the team.”

With Fernando Alonso taking over the car after the lunch break, team principal Mike Krack says the team are yet to decide how they will allocate the remaining days of running between their drivers.

“This is also something that I think you have to do as a team just to cover all eventualities,” Krack said. “We have not made a final decision yet how we are going to go for the next few days. This we will decide in the next few hours.”

The team is monitoring Stroll’s fitness and will make a decision on whether to replace him nearer the opening race next week.

“He was training, trying to improve or to work on his fitness last week, so he was cycling and he had a small incident and hurt himself,” Krack explained. “For precautionary reasons, we decided it’s better to wait a little bit and be ready next week.”

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