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Montreal's Stroll finishes ninth at Canadian Grand Prix

Lance Stroll Lance Stroll - The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — Another Canadian Grand Prix, another familiar result for Montreal's Lance Stroll.

The Aston Martin driver managed to climb through the field and finish in ninth place Sunday at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

A penalty in qualifying on Saturday had relegated Stroll to 16th place on the starting grid. He has always started in 16th or 17th at his home Grand Prix, but has now finished in ninth place three times (2017, 2019 and 2023) and 10th place once (2022). He had to retire from the race in 2018.

Stroll earned two points for his efforts Sunday and still holds eighth place in the drivers' standings with 37 points.

"At the end of the season, when you look at the championship standings, it's often one or two points that make the difference. So, it's better than nothing," said Stroll, trying to see the glass as half full.

Stroll's teammate at Aston Martin, Fernando Alonso, had a better day, finishing second. The Spanish driver has achieved six podium finishes in eight races this season. Stroll's best result is a fourth-place finish at the Australian Grand Prix.

"I want to be on the podium, too," said Stroll. "But (Alonso) is fast, confident in the car and doing a great job. I'm happy for the team and him, he deserves this podium."

Formula One will now move to Austria for the next race on July 2.

Stroll gained two positions in the first lap, but dropped back to 16th after some bad luck with a pit stop just before a safety car came out on the 11th lap.

Aston Martin made a big move later on, calling a pit stop with Stroll still stuck in 16th behind a long line of cars ranging from 10th to 19th place.

By pitting earlier than his opponents, he was able to take advantage of having his car on fresh tires without any traffic ahead of him.

This allowed him to gain four positions without needing to make any overtakes on the track.

"I felt good in the car, and the speed was good when I had clean air in front of me," said Stroll, with Aston Martin having made several improvements to their cars for the weekend. "Unfortunately, I found myself often in traffic and it was difficult to overtake."

When Mercedes driver George Russell retired after 55 laps, Stroll moved to 11th. A five-car battle then unfolded in the final laps.

Williams' Alex Albon played the spoiler, holding seventh place against Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas and Stroll. Albon was the only driver in the midfield to make only one pit stop.

Stroll managed to overtake Bottas at the finish line, beating him by three hundredths of a second, which is less than half a car length.

"My tires were finished, but I applied some pressure. (Bottas) made a mistake in the final chicane. He blocked me a bit, and I had a better exit from the corner. I passed him at the end," said Stroll.

Stroll crossed the finish line in 10th place and gained another position due to a five-second penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct against McLaren’s Norris.

Norris was penalized for slowing down too much in the pits and impeding other drivers during his stop while the safety car was on track.

"If I get a penalty there, I should get a penalty for the last three years as well, and so should everyone else," said Norris. "I didn't do anything wrong."

Norris ultimately finished 13th, even though he crossed the finish line in ninth.

After being penalized in qualifying, Stroll benefited from a rival's penalty to gain an additional point in the standings.

"With all the circumstances, it was better than nothing to get some points," said Stroll. "But it was still a difficult weekend after yesterday and bad luck today.

"That's how weekends go. There are still 14 races left until the end of the season. We'll take them one at a time."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2023.