Fernando Alonso has had close to 20 teammates during his illustrious Formula 1 career, but the one he has now at Aston Martin with Lance Stroll appears to be among the most ‘harmonious’ thus far. As if sharing a garage with the ‘Nando can ever be so!
Perhaps the fact that Stroll’s father – Lawrence Stroll – owns the team and pays Alonso’s salary is a factor, but the fact the wily veteran, more than once, during races gave his teammate tips was pragmatic to the extreme. However, sadly not always to great effect for Lance, but a [unusual?] gesture of goodwill by the older driver.
When asked to reflect on his first season at Aston Martin, alongside Stroll junior in particular, Alonso told reporters in Abu Dhabi: “It’s been very good. I think we have a very unique relationship [compared to] any team that I’ve worked for and in any team that I know in the current paddock.
“We talk a lot, we’re in contact every week on the phone, at the factory, at races and we try to make sure that we are all in the same direction, we share so many things,” revealed the Spaniard.
Alonso: Stroll has been through some difficulties this year
2023 F1 stats show one thing they did not share, and that is performance during the gruelling 22-round F1 World Championship. When Aston Martin started with a bang, Alonso in particular. But their very handy AMR23 did not evolve as expected with updates and reportedly went backwards until they reverted to the older-spec car again.
The score at the end of the season was Aston Martin P5, on 280 points in the 2023 F1 Constructors standings, up from seventh and the 55 points they scored in 2022 before Alonso replaced Sebastian Vettel in the team.
Stroll suffered a cycling accident just before the season started which had him on the back foot early in the year. While Alonso found the sweetspot in his new car quickly, Stroll only seemed to get the hang of it later in the season.
The 2023 F1 WDC points table shows Alonso scored 206 points on his way to P4 while Stroll could only muster 74 points for a P10 finish.
Alonso reflected on Stroll’s form: “He’s been through some difficulties this year, the car was just changing behaviour a little bit and he was just struggling a little bit more than me. Now we’ve fixed a few things in the car, and he’s back to top form.”
Alonso provides a great benchmark for Stroll junior
“It was impressive to see his dedication and his motivation in the highs and the lows,” continued Alonso. “At the beginning of the year with a broken hand and then through the season, he was so determined to put things back in place again. And eventually, he did after I think Mexico, the race in Brazil, the race in Vegas.
“To be honest this was a surprise to me, the level of commitment and the level of motivation that he has. So you know, this is only good news and good things for the team,” added Alonso.
Aston Martin hit the jackpot in Alonso, luring him away from Alpine, the veteran of 378 Grand Prix starts gelling with the team from day one. In the wake of Vettel’s sad decline and eventual departure, Fernando brought in fresh energy which galvanised the team. And a true benchmark for Stroll junior.
That they lost their way with the upgrades, is alarming. One would’ve thought they understood their car. Apparently not, but Alonso kept his cool despite lamenting having to drive the “the slowest car” during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
That 42-year-old Alonso and 25-year-old Stroll hit it off is no surprise. Simply on a mentor/protege level which is exactly how Lance should tap into Fernando. However, how that relationship will evolve if ever the Young Gun can beat the Old Guard regularly, remains to be seen. For now, BFF is a good thing.
Right now, Aston Martin are keen for Alonsoo to extend his F1 contract with them, which runs until the end of next year, into his mid-forties.