Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll have developed a strong relationship during Aston Martin’s strong start to the season; watch more of Alonso’s interview with Martin Brundle during Sky Sports F1’s live Miami GP coverage from 7pm on Sunday
Last Updated: 07/05/23 12:18pm
Fernando Alonso says his strong relationship with Lance Stroll is down to his Aston Martin team-mate being “very smart” and not targeting him, unlike previous stablemate Esteban Ocon at Alpine.
Aston Martin’s stunning rise to contention at the front of the grid has been one of the storylines of the 2023 season so far, with Alonso claiming podiums in each of his first three races with the team, and having qualified second for Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix.
Along with their pace, which has seen them competing closely with Mercedes and Ferrari behind the dominant Red Bull, the camaraderie between the Aston Martin drivers has provided an additional boost and feel-good tale.
“We had this goal in the team which we spoke about,” Alonso told Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle. “I remember the day before the launch of the car in February in the factory.
“What was the goal of the team with (team principal) Mike Krack and (chief executive) Martin Whitmarsh? I think we all agree that we need to play this kind of game – you know if you want to be the opposition, we are fighting against very big teams, Ferrari, Mercedes and our strength is to score points with both cars.”
Alonso, 41, who is the oldest driver on the grid, has been extremely supportive of Stroll, describing the 24-year-old as a “hero” after he finished 6th at the opening race of the campaign in Bahrain despite struggling with severe injuries suffered in a pre-season cycling accident.
The good vibes between the pair have continued since then, with Stroll assuring the team over radio in the early stages of last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix that he wouldn’t try to attack Alonso, who was directly in front of him on track and attempting to save his tyres for later in the race.
Later in the race Alonso was heard sending technical advice to his younger team-mate, before insisting that Stroll is the future of the team after the race.
Explaining why he is so willing to try to help Stroll, Alonso drew a comparison to his relationship with Ocon, who he clashed with on multiple occasions as they spent the past two seasons together at Alpine.
“Yes, I tried to help Lance but we cannot forget that also he’s very smart,” Alonso said.
“And he’s a driver that I think as a teammate, as we saw in Baku, we spoke about maybe saving tyres, we didn’t know exactly in a sprint format, how long the tyres will last… we were saving tyres and he said, ‘I will not attack Fernando.’
“Last year I had like maybe the opposite. Always, you know, my teammate, like the first target was me. So that was obviously not beneficial for the team. So, I think Lance is playing also a part in this relationship.”
‘Stroll will lead Aston for 10-15 years’ | Lawrence’s leadership contagious
Alonso repeated the assertion he made last weekend in Baku that he thinks Stroll will lead the team for “the next 10 or 15 years,” and that he wants “to help Lance as much as I can well while I’m driving.”
Despite having outqualified and finished ahead of Stroll at each of their four races as team-mates, Alonso is adamant his the Canadian has what it takes to lead the team in future.
“Right now maybe I’m more prepared to fight for the championship because I’ve been in this position and fighting with top, top cars and at the front,” Alonso said.
“But as I said, you know I will drive for few more years not, not many and I think Lance will drive for many more.
“If I can help, I will be happy.”
Alonso is also enjoying a strong relationship with another Stroll, Lance’s father Lawrence, who owns the team and has provided the significant investment that has driven them forward on the grid.
Many questioned whether the two strong characters would be able to sustain a good relationship, and while it’s only early days, Alonso says he appreciates Stroll’s direct leadership style.
He said: “I think we’ve known each other for now, for 12 years, when Lance was just a kid in karting and yeah, I think I like him.
“I like this this way of, you know, having no limits. I think Lawrence has a leadership (style) that I think is quite contagious and everyone in the team is believing what he thinks.
“With a Formula One team you need to have this kind of boss, and one voice that sets the direction and I like this team and also my role in the team, I’m aware of my role, perfectly fine and I accept it.”
The Formula 1 season continues with the Miami GP – watch Sunday’s race live on Sky Sports F1 from 7pm, lights out at 8.30pm. Get Sky Sports