'They could have been really negative' – Krack praises Alonso and Stroll for 'sticking by' Aston Martin amid dip in form
Aston Martin Team Principal Mike Krack has commended his two drivers, Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, over how they stuck with the team during their dip in form in 2023.
The Silverstone outfit had been one of the stories of the start of the 2023 season as they leapt up the pecking order, with their AMR23 emerging as Red Bull’s closest challenger. Alonso, who had signed on for 2023 after leaving Alpine, claimed podium finishes in six of the opening eight races. But that trajectory soon came to a halt as other teams began to develop their machinery.
The likes of Mercedes and Ferrari became more consistent as Aston Martin fell away, while McLaren’s in-season developments catapulted their car into Aston’s previous position – arguably Red Bull’s closest challengers. The papaya squad’s improvements helped them overhaul Aston in the constructors’ standings by the season’s end as they took P4 – 22 points and a place ahead – despite a bounce back in form for Aston Martin towards the end of the year.
But, while that pick-up in performance helped boost the team, there were just two podium finishes to enjoy in the second half of 2023 – a P2 in Zandvoort and a P3 in Sao Paulo, both for Alonso.
Despite the fall down the standings for the team, fifth still represented a significant gain on their P7 in 2022, and Krack was full of praise for how his drivers acted during the tough period of the year.
“I am full of admiration for the drivers this year,” said Krack in his reflections on the year to Aston Martin’s website. “They've made us a better team. I think you find out more about their character in the tough races.
“Mexico was a good example. After that race, they were constructive in the briefings and stuck by us when talking to the media. They could have been really negative in the press – and we would have deserved it for failing to give them a competitive car that weekend – but neither did. Instead, both expressed their faith in the long-term goals and journey we're on. For me, that stands out.
“In other teams, you often see drivers going to the media to shift blame for poor results onto the team. Lance and Fernando haven't adopted that mentality. It isn't the drivers and the team here; the drivers are part of the team. I think in this regard, we're perhaps a little bit different from our competitors.”
While Alonso proved his own ability hasn’t dipped with age, Stroll had a mixed year – though there was a strong end that included back-to-back P5 results in Brazil and Las Vegas.
There was also his injury pre-season to contend with, where he suffered two broken wrists and a broken toe following a cycling accident, but Krack insisted the Canadian was in a “great place” following his finish to the year.
“He's relaxed and self-confident,” Krack said. “You can see it in his body language. It's very impressive how he has developed as a driver this year. “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.
“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.”
Krack was also proud of the vastly experienced Alonso and what he had brought to the team, having replaced the retiring Sebastian Vettel prior to this season.
“What Fernando has brought us is just outstanding,” Krack added. “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.
“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.”