Fernando Alonso Admits 25-Year-Old F1 Rival Has ‘Surprised’ Aston Martin Driver

Aston Martin’s decision to enlist Fernando Alonso as Sebastian Vettel’s replacement alongside Lance Stroll for the 2023 Formula 1 season brought high expectations for the Silverstone-based team. Alonso quickly made his mark, securing six podium finishes in the first eight races. However, Stroll faced early challenges, struggling to match his teammate’s performance with the same machinery.

The 25-year-old Canadian showcased his resilience during the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, finishing in sixth place despite ongoing recovery from wrist surgery due to a bicycle accident in February. Stroll’s dedication to overcoming adversity became even more apparent as he faced additional setbacks, including the team’s struggles to maintain competitiveness with the AMR23.

Despite these challenges, Stroll’s determination did not waver. Alonso, who initially joined the team at the start of the year, acknowledged Stroll’s relentless commitment to getting his season back on track. The Spaniard, a two-time Formula 1 champion, expressed his surprise and admiration for Stroll’s efforts.

“He’s been through some difficulties this year,” Alonso noted. “The car was just changing the behavior a little bit, and he was struggling a little bit more than me. Now, we fixed [a] few things in the car, and he’s back to top form.”

Alonso highlighted Stroll’s impressive dedication and motivation, especially during challenging periods, such as the beginning of the season when Stroll raced with a broken hand. The Canadian’s determination persisted through the mid-season difficulties as Aston Martin found themselves slipping down the Formula 1 grid compared to rivals McLaren, Mercedes, and Ferrari.

Stroll’s turnaround came towards the end of the season, marked by successive fifth-place finishes at the Sao Paulo and Las Vegas Grand Prix. In a surprising twist, Stroll even outperformed Alonso in qualifying, securing a third-place starting position in Brazil.

“It was impressive to see his dedication and his motivation in the highs and in the lows,” Alonso remarked. “This was a surprise to me, to be honest, the level of commitment and the level of motivation that he has. So, this is only good news and good things for the team.”