RACE DEBRIEF

    Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack has opened up about Fernando Alonso’s “outstanding” contribution to the squad during his first season onboard, describing his experience and commitment as “invaluable”.

    Alonso swapped Alpine for Aston Martin ahead of the 2023 season in a move that coincided with a charge up the pecking order from the Silverstone operation, the new partnership impressively scoring six podium finishes across their first eight races together.

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    While the outfit’s form dipped mid-season, with car developments failing to live up to expectations, they steadily worked through their problems and came back with a flourish at the end of the year – Alonso returning to the rostrum in Brazil.

    In a wide-ranging interview for the Aston Martin F1 website, Krack reflected on what two-time champion Alonso has added to the team, how he helped to get their season back on track and what’s still to come from him moving forward.

    “What Fernando has brought us is just outstanding,” said Krack. “He drives us on and makes us better – it’s that simple really. He is hugely ambitious and wants to be fighting for podiums every weekend.

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    Alonso and Aston Martin collected plenty of trophies during their first season together

    “The experience he brings is invaluable, but also the commitment. He isn’t one of these drivers who turn up on a race weekend, does their thing and then disappears. There’s always another question, another WhatsApp message pinging in, constantly looking for things we could improve.

    “Having him prowling around behind you provides all the motivation anyone could need. I’m looking forward to what he can do in 2024 now that he’s had a year to fully bed into Aston Martin.”

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    On the other side of the garage, Lance Stroll experienced a more challenging campaign after battling back from wrist and foot injuries sustained in a pre-season training crash, but Krack also had positive words to share about the Canadian.

    “Lance is in a great place,” said Krack. “He’s relaxed and self-confident. You can see it in his body language. It’s very impressive how he has developed as a driver this year.

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    “He had the injury pre-season, which put him on the back foot, but he showed real grit and determination to get back behind the wheel as quickly as possible. And, despite all he had been through, he was still very fast.

    “Then, later in the season, he came back fighting after a tough phase. He had a lot of pressure to deal with and handled it with a lot of assurance.

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    “I wish the season would have been a bit longer for him because he’s been really fast in the final rounds. We can build on that. That’s what needs to happen now, he just needs to pick up where he left off this season. He’s overcome many challenges this year and now he’s very much on the up.”

    After ending the 2023 season fifth in the constructors’ standings, behind Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren, Aston Martin are preparing to enter year four of their five-year plan to become F1 title contenders, with their new car, the AMR24, set to be unveiled on February 12.