RACE DEBRIEF

    Fernando Alonso has opened up about the “very unique” relationship he shares with team mate Lance Stroll, and has praised the Canadian for his “dedication” through the ups and downs of the 2023 F1 season.

    There were mixed fortunes for the Aston Martin duo throughout the campaign, with the team enjoying a strong start – in which they looked to be the closest challengers to Red Bull – before finding themselves slipping backwards in the middle of the season.

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    Signs of an upturn in form came as the year headed towards its close, but this was not enough for the squad to leapfrog McLaren in the constructors’ championship, ultimately leaving them in fifth place.

    Despite the highs and lows, Alonso says that he has always worked well with Stroll, with the Spaniard suggesting that there is a good level of communication within the team.

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    Alonso and Stroll embarked on their first year as team mates at Aston Martin in 2023

    When asked about the relationship with his fellow Aston Martin driver, Alonso responded: “It’s been very good. I think we have a very unique relationship, I think, in any team that I was working for, and in any team that I know in the current paddock.

    “We talk a lot, we are in contact every week on the telephone, at the factory, at the races, and we try to make sure that we are all in the same direction, and we share many things.”

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    Alonso has been particularly impressed by how Stroll handled challenging times during 2023. The 25-year-old sustained injuries in a cycling accident prior to the campaign getting underway, forcing him to miss pre-season testing. While he returned at the opening race in Bahrain – and secured points with a P6 result – Stroll looked to be less comfortable with the AMR23 than Alonso at times during the year.

    “He's been through some difficulties this year,” Alonso explained. “The car was just changing the behaviour a little bit, and he was just struggling a little bit more than me, and now I think we fixed a few things in the car and now he's back to the top form.

    SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 15: Lance Stroll of Canada and Aston Martin F1 Team prepares to
    Stroll ended the 2023 campaign in 10th place of the drivers' standings

    “It was impressive to see his dedication and his motivation in the highs and in the lows, in the beginning of the year with the broken hand, and then [midway] through the season with some difficulties; he was so determined to put things back in place again and eventually he did, after I think Mexico and now the race in Brazil, the race in Vegas.

    “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.”

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    Alonso and Stroll will enter into their second season as team mates in 2024, with Aston Martin set to launch their new car for the campaign on February 12 at Silverstone.