Stroll ‘coming out of his shell’, now keen to engage – Hill

Damon Hill says he’s seeing a noticeable change in demeanor in Lance Stroll this season, claiming the young Canadian is a lot more engaging with the media than in the past.

Stroll suffered a troubled start to his 2023 campaign due to a cycling crash that sidelined him from pre-season testing with Aston Martin and put in jeopardy his presence in Bahrain for the first race.

Fortunately, an expedited recovery programme allowed Stroll to race at Sakhir where he finished an impressive sixth.

Hill suggests that Aston’s strong form has put a spring in the Canadian’s step, while Fernando Alonso’s presence in the team has perhaps also had a positive impact.

“It is very noticeable that he’s come out of his shell and is keen to engage, so some vibe has changed over the winter,” Hill commented on the F1 Nation podcast.

“Maybe it’s the spring in the step they’ve got with this car, and being with Fernando. Maybe Fernando has given him some tips as well, because he was really bigging him up after Saudi.

“He’s probably never had that before.”

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F1 journalist and Beyond the Grid host Tom Clarkson also noticed Stroll’s change of attitude, but the Briton suggests that time spent last winter in Canada with a Netflix production crew for a future episode of Drive to Survive has changed his approach to the media.

“I think he is a much more engaging interview now than he has been in the past,” Clarkson said.

“I’ve always felt in the past that he resents doing the media work whereas, this year, I’ve seen a marked change.

“I do wonder whether it’s got anything to do with the Netflix cameras, who went over the winter to Canada with him and spent a lot of time, and I’m told that he really enjoyed being with them.

“Now when you speak to him, he smiles at you, he answers your questions fully. It’s almost as if, a bit like Alonso in a way, he wants to be liked.

“He’s almost thinking of legacy and, instead of swimming against the current, why not swim with it occasionally and have an easier ride?”

Sky F1’s Natalie Pinkham is also inclined to believe that Alonso is having a positive influence on Stroll.

“It’s important to remember, they’re at the opposite ends of their career,” Pinkham said.

“Lance isn’t that young anymore, it’s actually amazing to think how experienced he is. But Fernando I feel is sort of taking him under his wing in a very non-threatening way.

“He’s not coming in and saying, ‘I’m going to be your team leader’. He said, ‘I’m hopefully going to impart some knowledge and experience that you can benefit from’, and it feels like they don’t feel threatened by one another.

“They’re just growing together and bringing the team with them.”

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