Aston Martin has hinted that it has multiple alternative options to replace Lance Stroll for the Bahrain Grand Prix next weekend.
Stroll was forced to skip pre-season testing this week after injuring his wrists in a biking accident.
He has not yet been confirmed for the season-opening race in Sakhir, with Felipe Drugovich called up to replace him for the pre-season sessions.
“The team has to do its homework,” said Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack. “We have a situation that isn’t 100 per cent 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 [to put him in the car].”
However, Drugovich, who is the reigning Formula 2 champion, may not be the sole contender for the drive should Stroll’s absence be extended.
“We want to have Lance back in the car,” Krack added. “But we have to wait [for] what he says and what the doctors are saying.
“The Plan B we have to decide, we have some Plan Bs, we have to decide the Plan B when the Plan A is done.”
Aston Martin also has Stoffel Vandoorne signed as a reserve driver for the 2023 season, with the Belgian driver switching to Formula E competition following his F1 exit at the end of 2018.
Krack says that Stroll’s potential replacement is “something that we will have to discuss in the next days” as Aston Martin holds out hope that the Canadian driver will be fit to return.
The team is set to wait until the last possible moment to confirm its line-up for the first event of the year, with Stroll missing just one race (2020 Eifel Grand Prix) since making his F1 debut in 2017.
Stroll is also set to jump into Aston Martin’s simulator in the coming days to further evaluate his ability to climb back behind the wheel.
Another possibility that was thrown at Krack was a sensational return for Sebastian Vettel, who retired from F1 at the end of 2022.
However, Krack suggested that this would be an unlikely scenario for the team.
“He had a very, very thorough plan in mind for his retirement,” he said.
“And I think this is also something that you have to respect. Let’s see what’s happening.”
But when asked if Vettel has shown an interest in returning for a one-off appearance, Krack said: “I will not tell you.”