Lance Stroll must regain his confidence after taking a physical and mental “battering” in recent weeks, says Racing Point Formula 1 technical chief Andrew Green.
Stroll has failed to score any points since his podium finish at the Italian Grand Prix almost two months ago, causing him to fall to 11th in the drivers’ standings.
The Canadian driver suffered a heavy crash at Mugello before a collision with Charles Leclerc on the opening lap of the Russian GP forced him to retire.
Stroll then missed the Eifel GP through illness, and shortly after delivered a positive diagnosis for COVID-19, but was declared fit to return in Portugal.
But the Racing Point driver’s comeback was marred by two collisions over the Portimao weekend before a disappointing outing at Imola last Sunday, where he finished 13th and overshot his pitbox.
Racing Point technical director Green acknowledged after Sunday’s race that Stroll had suffered a dip in confidence, and that the team had underestimated the impact COVID-19 would have on him.
“From where he was at Monza to where he is now, there’s definitely a lack of confidence for sure, which we’re going to have to work on over the next week or so to try and get him back again,” Green said.
“I think the illness did knock it out of him, for sure. That’s something that we hadn’t really foreseen. We had heard about the length of time it can take to recover from the illness, and I think it is taking some time.
“I think he just needs to get his confidence back again, and believe in himself again. And we’ll get the Lance back that we had for the first two-thirds of the season.
“He’s obviously taken quite a battering physically and mentally. It was quite a big accident in Mugello, so I think that that probably dented his confidence, and then not to be fit for a couple of races.”
Stroll said prior to the Emilia Romagna GP at Imola that he was “feeling good” and “feeling fit” despite the known aftereffects of COVID-19.
But his failure to score any points in the last five races has led to Racing Point dropping from third to fifth place in the constructors’ championship. Team-mate Sergio Perez has scored 48 points in the same five-race period.
Green felt it was important for Stroll to get a couple of races completed to help rebuild his confidence after his illness, but was certain the team will rally around him.
“I think he needs to get a couple of races under his belt, which is what he’s done now,” Green said.
“With that, I think we can start to move on. It is really, really fine margins. If you’re not on top of the car, and understanding where the tyres are, and getting them in their sweet spot, you can be made to look like an idiot.
“We need to get him back on track. We can do that. We’ve got the tools, we’ve got the people.
“I think half of it [is he] probably just needs a bit of an arm around him and a bit of a hug and say, ‘come on, let’s pull yourself together now and let’s get on with it’.
“I think he’s more than capable of doing it. It’s a bit tough on him at the moment.”