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Formula 1 Australian GP

Stroll “heartbroken" before red flag saved points finish

Lance Stroll admits he was “heartbroken” when he thought his trip into the gravel at the late restart in the Formula 1 Australian GP cost him a shot at a podium.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin F1 Team

Stroll was seventh into the first corner at the chaotic 'third' start, but he jumped up to third as Carlos Sainz tapped Fernando Alonso into a spin while Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez both went wide.

However, he lost some momentum with a snap of oversteer exiting Turn 2, giving Sainz the opportunity to draw alongside heading into Turn 3. On the tighter inside line, Stroll locked up and sailed into the gravel.

Stroll believed that he had thrown away third place and any chance of points, but the race was red-flagged once again because of the multiple incidents.

Having returned to the pits at the back of the field, Stroll was given a reprieve when the FIA opted to return to the original grid order for the final lap behind the safety car.

With Gasly out and Sainz penalised, that guaranteed him fourth place at the flag.

“I was pretty heartbroken at Turn 3 with a couple of laps to go,” he said. “I picked up a front-right lock defending from Carlos, and thought I threw away the podium. That would have been hard to sleep with tonight.”

Asked if he’d ever experienced such a rollercoaster of emotions he said: “No, not with that level of sadness, disappointment, to then finally crossing the finish line very happy with the result.”

Like other drivers, Stroll noted that cold tyres made the restart particularly difficult.

“Yeah, really tough,” he admitted. “I mean the tyres were just ice cold. I already felt it coming out of Turn 2, just picking up the power, a big snap.

“And then heading to Turn 3, I was defending from Carlos who was on my outside, and then I was on the dirty part of the track. As soon as I touched the brake, the front right just started locking up and there was no slowing down the car.

“I was lucky to even bring it back, to be honest, because you saw [on Saturday] Checo got beached there. We were lucky to get the car back, really.”

Charles Leclerc's race ended after contact with Stroll

Charles Leclerc's race ended after contact with Stroll

Photo by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

On the first lap of the original start, Stroll had contact with Charles Leclerc, whose race ended in the gravel trap. But the Ferrari driver didn’t blame his Canadian rival for the incident.

“Oh, that was nice of him, I'll buy him a beer tonight,” said Stroll when asked by Autosport about the incident.

“I mean it was honestly a racing incident I think. It gets so narrow, this track is narrow. Going into Turn 3, I was braking between Charles and Fernando. I didn't move and then I kind of got sandwiched. And then we made contact.

“It was unfortunate for him and lucky for me that I didn't pick up damage or anything. Maybe something, but it felt OK.”

Regarding the wait before the final run to the flag, he said: “I think they maybe just could have called it before we did that last lap.

“We didn't have fuel, I don't think anyone could have done another lap, but it would have been maybe [good] just for the fans to do one more lap of proper racing.

“That's how it goes. They probably should have just called it maybe instead of finishing under the flag.”

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