‘It hurt a lot’ – Alonso explains why Aston Martin missed Stroll so much at pre-season testing

Fernando Alonso

Lance Stroll was the only full-time driver to miss all three days of pre-season testing as he was ruled out following a training accident. His new Aston Martin team mate Fernando Alonso explained why the Canadian’s absence was so painful for the Silverstone squad.

Alonso shared duties with Aston Martin’s reserve driver and 2022 F2 champion Felipe Drugovich on Thursday and Saturday in Bahrain, and on Friday the two-time champion drove for the whole day. Aston Martin ended up notching up a solid 387 laps but more impressively, they turned heads up and down the pit lane with the likes of Red Bull boss Christian Horner and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen impressed with their pace.

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However, Stroll’s absence meant the team went into the Bahrain test on the back foot according to Alonso, who said: “It hurt a lot. I think we miss him because some of my comments and feelings with the car, we never know if it’s just me in a new team and a new car or was [it] just maybe an Aston Martin thing that Lance could spot: brake pedal feeling, power steering?

“I don’t know if these are a legacy thing with the team or new in this car, so we cannot do it without him. So I hope he can come [back] very soon.”

Fernando Alonso certain 'a lot more to come' from Aston Martin

Alonso added that despite Aston Martin’s optimism heading into Sunday’s opening race at the same venue, Bahrain International Circuit, there’s still plenty of work for the team to do.

They finished seventh in the standings last year with Stroll and Sebastian Vettel at the wheel, while new Haas recruit Nico Hulkenberg stepped in for the team for two races as well.

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“I just jumped out of the car now so I didn’t check times or anything like that,” said Alonso after running on Day 3 of testing, “but the car felt good all three days, we’ve been experimenting a little bit with very different routes on set-ups, and we found always positives on these new routes, so there is a clear indication that we need to change philosophy in many things on this car compared to last year’s car.

“And that obviously is a concern in a way because we will need a couple of races to optimise the package.

Testing helpful for Drugovich to be 'ready, if team needs me' to stand in for Stroll

“And obviously it is now go-time, we need to make the car as fast as possible for next week, Race 1, but we feel like there is a lot more to come from the car that we didn’t have time yet in testing – only three days – but step by step the team is working flat out.”

It is not yet clear whether Stroll will race for Aston Martin for the season-opener, but Drugovich will take over duties if the Canadian is not ready.

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