Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack did not rule out a surprise return for Sebastian Vettel if Lance Stroll is unable to race in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Stroll suffered injuries in what Aston Martin described as a “minor” accident while training on a bicycle in Spain nearly a week ago, ruling him out of pre-season testing. Krack has since confirmed it’s the Canadian’s hand and wrist that is a point of concern, but that Stroll intends to try and drive the simulator this week to see if he could return to the car for the first round of the season.
Felipe Drugovich completed two pre-season testing sessions for Aston Martin in Bahrain, but Krack would not confirm him as the team’s ideal replacement. When asked if Vettel — who retired at the end of 2022 — had said he could return for the team at some stage, Krack added: “I will not tell you.”
When it was suggested that Vettel might have regained some hunger to return during the winter break, Krack — who admitted “I have had a couple of phone calls with Sebastian, but this has also been last year and this will continue in the future” — says the four-time world champion had commitments when it came to life after Formula 1.
“But don’t forget one thing: He had a very, very thorough plan in mind for his retirement, and I think this is also something that you have to respect. Let’s see what’s happening.”
The team boss admitted Drugovich’s track time was used for evaluation of the Brazilian in case he’s needed to replace Stroll, but that he wasn’t a definite back-up — with Stoffel Vandoorne also on the Aston books — as the team prioritizes its race driver.
“Yes, you can read something into it (running Drugovich). The team has to do its homework. We have a situation that isn’t 100 percent clear. From that point of view you do your homework and you also have one of your reserve drivers that is available, that is here, to prepare him for the case that it is necessary.
“I don’t know (Drugovich’s chances) at this point. I honestly don’t know at this point. It’s our Plan A, obviously, that we want to have Lance back in the car. But we have to wait (and see) what he says and what the doctors are saying.
“We have some Plan Bs. We have to decide the Plan B when the Plan A is done.”