Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Bahrain, 2023

“They will kill the tyres”: How Alonso took Aston Martin to the podium in Bahrain

2023 Bahrain GP team radio transcript

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Fernando Alonso claimed a podium finish in his first race as an Aston Martin driver with a battling drive in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Here’s the story of his race as revealed by his team radio messages.

Fernando Alonso’s 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix radio transcript

Before the new season began the FIA removed a rule which forbade race engineers from speaking to their drivers during the formation lap. The rule was originally introduced to reduce the amount of coaching teams could give their drivers on how to improve their starts.

The removal of the rule meant Alonso’s engineer Chris Cronin was able to give him feedback on how well he performed his practice start on the grid in order to improve his getaway when the race began.

Lap: 1/57
Cronin Sounds like there’s a delay on your radio coming to me. Short messages will be okay.
Cronin So Fernando once they fire you up Matty will lean in and put the pit limiter on. It’s two bite point finds and then you can do your start.
Cronin So Fernando start was target plus nine. Target plus nine.
Cronin So we’re happy with brake temps that’s good. Brakes and tyre temp looking good. You can do five burn-outs, five burn-outs.
Cronin Okay so run switch ‘start’, then a bite-point find, then back to neutral.

Shortly after the start Alonso was hit by his team mate at turn four. He was clearly unimpressed about the contact and initially unaware Stoll was the culprit.

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Cronin So last car on the grid now, first gear.
Alonso I’ve been hit in turn four so check.
Cronin Copy Fernando copy, we saw and we’re keeping an eye. Everything okay so far.
Cronin So you’ve got Russell ahead, Bottas behind.
Alonso Yeah but I mean they cannot do that.
Lap: 2/57
Cronin Yeah copy we are reviewing. So I would get straight into some management if you can.
Alonso’s efforts to keep the Mercedes behind on the first lap was undone by his team mate

Alonso, like almost every driver on the grid, started on the soft tyres. He therefore bided him time in the opening laps.

The contact from Stroll left him in seventh place behind the two Mercedes. Within a few laps Alonso was beginning to apply pressure to George Russell.

Meanwhile a radio problem which the team identified on the grid began to clear up.

Lap: 5/57
Cronin So Lance is car behind now, 1.3 back, Russell still 1.4 ahead.
Alonso Copy. Level one. Ten, I mean.
Cronin Yeah copy mate, copy.
Cronin Happy to go another step up on the torque switch and brake balance four if you can. Can I just have an early aero balance check, early aero balance check.
Lap: 6/57
Alonso [Unclear]. And radio’s back to normal. It’s good now.
Cronin Copy that, understood, it’s good for me as well.
Lap: 7/57
Cronin So Russell 1.8, Lance 1.4. Consider yellow button turn eight. Sorry, turn 10, turn 10.
Cronin So Fernando the three cars ahead are not really pulling away, good on management, but the pack behind are also not dropping back too much. So probably Plan A plus two or three at the moment.
Lap: 8/57
Alonso Copy.
Lap: 9/57
Cronin Hamilton struggling with front tyres, apparently.
Cronin Okay so you will get DRS. Russell 0.9, Lance 1.3.
Lap: 10/57
Cronin Both Safety Car windows are open. Both Safety Car windows are open.
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023
Aston Martin didn’t respond to the threat of Alfa Romeo

Valtteri Bottas, who ran in eighth place behind Alonso in the opening laps, pitted on lap 12. His Alfa Romeo team were Aston Martin’s key rivals last year – they ended the season tied on points. So it was a measure of how unbothered Aston Martin were by Bottas pitting that they didn’t respond to it or try to pre-empt it.

On lap 13 Alonso passed Russell, who headed for the pits.

Lap: 13/57
Cronin Fernando how are the tyres feeling now? How are the tyres? Bottas pitted a lap ago got a bit of free air now.
Alonso Yeah they feel okay. I think we should keep going.
Cronin Copy, understood. Okay, So keep going, you can use everything from the tyres, stay out.
Alonso [Unclear]
Lap: 14/57
Cronin Box, box. Box, box.
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin and George Russell, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023
Russell’s Mercedes was the first to be passed by Alonso

Despite pitting on the lap after Russell, Alonso came out of the pits ahead of him. He had given away a position to Bottas, but breezed past the Alfa Romeo.

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Lap: 15/57
Alonso Okay, box.
Cronin You can go to run switch ‘race’, run switch ‘race’, you can do that now. Russell is on hards and Magnussen is just in front of Russell. You’ve got loads of energy if you need it. So Russell has got past Magnussen, he’s right behind you, 0.9 behind.
Cronin So Russell is 0.8 behind, he does have DRS.
Lap: 18/57
Cronin So keep doing the lift-and-coast, it’s good for these tyres, and maybe one click forwards brake balance.
Lap: 20/57
Cronin Can I just have an early aero balance check.
Alonso Feels okay.
Cronin Copy that. If you want a bit more entry stability, torque nine is an option.

While Alonso began to chase down Lewis Hamilton, his thoughts returned to the collision 20 laps earlier, asking Cronin whether the stewards had investigated it. Given he had been hit by his team mate, Aston Martin will understandably have been pleased no action was taken, but Cronin decided not to bother his driver with that piece of information at this stage in proceedings.

After the race Alonso indicated he saw who was responsible on one of the trackside video screens during the race. “I thought it was George but I saw the replay on TV later on, and it was Lance.”

“We got lucky,” said Alonso. “Obviously the two cars, they didn’t have any problems and we could continue.”

Lap: 21/57
Alonso Did they investigate the incident?
Cronin They did investigate it, they did, and no action.
Alonso Okay.
Alonso Level five.
Cronin Copy, understood.
Lap: 22/57
Cronin So Hamilton is 3.4 ahead, Russell 2.4 behind. Last lap Hamilton still doing 38.6s.

Aston Martin’s tyre degradation over long stints looked encouraging in the pre-race test at Bahrain International Circuit, as well as in practice two days before the grand prix. It was borne out in the race, and Alonso recognised the best way to attack their rivals was to expose their poorer tyre management by running longer.

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Lap: 23/57
Cronin So we’re still catching Hamilton, two tenths a lap, two tenths.
Cronin So we are happy with the management now, happy, this is good.
Alonso Yes, they have more deg so let’s think how to use it.
Lap: 24/57
Cronin Copy that Hamilton 2.6 ahead.
Alonso Let’s get closer and see what they do.
Lap: 26/57
Cronin Hamilton 1.6 ahead.
Lap: 27/57
Cronin Fernando let’s take another aero balance check, aero balance.
Alonso Yeah I’m happy. How you see it?

The race moved into a new phase at half-distance as Hamilton began leaning on his tyres more in anticipation of his second pit stop. He came in on lap 30, Russell the lap after, but Aston Martin kept Alonso out until lap 34. That ensured he had fresher tyres to attack his rival with over the race’s final stint.

Lap: 28/57
Cronin Yeah looking good for us. Hamilton is now starting to push more, he’s stopped doing management. From our side it may be a bit oversteer, but not massive.
Lap: 29/57
Cronin So last lap you were the same lap time as Hamilton, same lap time.
Alonso We’re still on target?
Cronin Yeah, confirm, we’re on target, Plan A, Plan A.
Alonso Copy.
Cronin Can I just check level?
Alonso Four.
Cronin Copy, understood.
Lap: 31/57
Alonso Tyres feel good.
Cronin Copy, mate, copy.
Lap: 32/57
Alonso Traffic hurts the tyres a lot. Hopefully they find something.
Alonso Copy, mate, copy. Just check your aero balance again now you’re in clear are. Aero balance.
Alonso Yeah still happy. We keep on going. Tyres looking good.
Cronin Copy, mate, copy. So basically behind you Lance and Russell have stopped, we’re just keeping an eye on that gap. Hamilton and Sainz ahead have stopped, we’re just going to build the tyre advantage to them.
Lap: 33/57
Cronin Okay so we are going to stay out, we are going to stay out. Can you go to race on the run switch, race.

Aston Martin finally brought Alonso in for his final pit stop. Intriguingly, Alonso seems to have been confident he could have kept going for longer, indicating his car was taking good care of its tyres. His question why they didn’t extend their second stint longer went unanswered, though it’s likely the team were wary that a slightly slow stop at this stage would have risked dropping him into the battle between his team mate and Russell behind.

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Lap: 34/57
Cronin We will box this lap, box this lap, box box.
Alonso Copy, box.
Lap: 35/57
Cronin So might be tight with Hamilton.
Alonso Why we didn’t stay out?
Cronin So Hamilton 1.3.
Lap: 36/57
Cronin Hamilton 1.0.
Alonso fought his way past Hamilton

It only took a couple of laps for Alonso to draw within range of Hamilton. An initial attempt to pass at turn four went awry when Alonso suffered a snap of oversteer at the exit, allowing the Mercedes to re-pass.

But on the run to turn 10, an unlikely overtaking spot, Alonso coolly lined himself up for a pass on the inside of Hamilton, claiming fifth place. “When you fight at the front, with these great drivers, great champions, it is more intense, more adrenaline when you are wheel to wheel,” said Alonso afterwards.

Lap: 37/57
Cronin You’ve got lots of energy.
Cronin Got loads of energy.
Lap: 38/57
Alonso Yes! Let’s go!
Cronin Great job. Hamilton 0.5 behind. Sainz is next. Just watch Hamilton as well. So we’ve got loads of energy, got loads of energy. Hamilton still 0.7 back but he has got DRS. Gap 0.5.
Lap: 39/57
Cronin Hamilton 0.4. He’s got DRS. Hamilton 0.3.

Alonso picked up another position almost immediately when Charles Leclerc retired from the race. The Aston Martin driver alerted his team to the stationary Ferrari. They were prepared to pit had a full Safety Car period been deployed, but the incident was covered by a Virtual Safety Car and racing soon resumed.

Lap: 40/57
Cronin Hamilton is 1.0 behind but he does have DRS. Sainz 2.6 ahead. Last lap Sainz 37.4.
Cronin Hamilton 0.6, 0.5, he’s got DRS.
Alonso Any feedback on the previous sets?
Cronin Full Safety Car window is open, full Safety Car window is out.
Alonso Ferrari out. Get ready, eh?
Cronin We are ready. Safety Car window is open but stay out unless it’s a Safety Car.
Lap: 41/57
Cronin It’s only a full Safety Car window.
Cronin Virtual Safety Car, Virtual Safety Car, slow down, get your delta positive and you can go to ‘cool’, go to ‘cool’. So just keep your front temperature, you can let the rears cool a little bit. So can I just have a balance check on that final stint. If you went to a soft would you take any aero balance off.
Alonso No I think was okay. I think we don’t need a Safety Car so should be virtual.
Cronin MFA Grey, default C2, okay. So at the restart your run switch will go to race, keep bit of brake temp again on the front but not too much. So we don’t think it will be too long.
Cronin Virtual Safety Car’s ending. It’ll be run switch ‘race’. Just coming to the restart.

The race got underway again and Alonso was immediately quicker than Sainz, attacking the Ferrari for the final podium position, which he claimed on lap 45.

Alonso said his passes during the race were not entirely straightforward as his rivals had strong straight-line speed. “We were not very fast on the straight,” he said. “Eventually you normally pass into turn one or into turn four [but] I think I passed Lewis into turn 10 and Carlos into turn 11. So not the normal places, because we could not match their straight-line speed.

“We had to make some moves in the corners before turn 10 and turn 11 and change trajectory, and then get the overtake done. I think [with] Lewis it was more playing a surprise move there, because no one overtakes into turn 10. With Carlos, it was close into turn 10 again, he closed the door, and then I had a better exit into turn 11.”

Aston Martin need to improve the AMR23’s straight-line speed, said Alonso, “because obviously we would love to pass just on the main straight like everyone does”.

Lap: 42/57
Cronin Hamilton is 1.0 back. 15 laps to go, 15. Sainz 1.4 ahead.
Lap: 43/57
Cronin So last lap you were one second quicker than Sainz.
Alonso How much older tyres?
Cronin So Sainz is three-lap older tyres. Three lap older tyres.
Cronin So Sainz 1.0, just missed DRS.
Cronin Sainz is 1.0, 0.9. So you’ve got DRS, Hamilton is two seconds back.
Lap: 44/57
Cronin Okay Sainz 0.5, keep the pressure on him, he’s worried about his tyres, Sainz 0.4.
Lap: 45/57
Cronin Sainz is 0.7 back, good job.
Alonso Yes! Bye-bye.

Having worked his way up to third place, and with fresher tyres than his closest rivals behind, Alonso was confident he could reach the end of the race with no problems.

Lap: 46/57
Cronin Okay 12 laps to go, 12 laps to go. Sainz is already one second back.
Cronin So Sainz has stil got DRS, he’s 0.8 behind.
Alonso It’s okay. He will kill the tyre.
Alonso We are okay on fuel and all these things, no?
Cronin Everything is great. Everything is good. Fuel, brakes all good. You’ve got 1.4 to Sainz. At the end of this lap, it’ll be 11 to go.
Alonso Okay.
Cronin So the limitation on this set of tyres will be the rear-left. So that’s the only one you’ve got to look after, the rear-left.
Lap: 47/57
Alonso Understood.
Lap: 48/57
Cronin So full Safety Car window is open, full Safety Car window is open.
Lap: 49/57
Cronin Nine more laps, nine more laps.
Alonso Copy. Understood. We don’t want any Safety Car.
Cronin Yeah copy, copy.
Alonso I’m on level seven, avoiding all the kerbs. Just let me know if the situation changes behind.
Cronin Yeah will do. At the moment Sainz is holding Hamilton up, we’ve got a 4.3 second gap behind.

On course to return to the podium for the first time in more than a year, and revelling in the discovery of how competitive his new car is – and the vindication of his decision to leave Alpine for Aston Martin – Alonso was in good spirits over the final laps.

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Lap: 51/57
Alonso Race situation? Where is Lance?
Cronin So Lance 12 seconds back from you, he’s four seconds behind Hamilton, but he is catching Hamilton and Sainz about three or four tenths a lap. Behind Lance is Russell, two seconds behind him. And ahead of you is Perez but he’s 24 seconds ahead.
Alonso Okay. This is a lovely car to drive.
Lap: 52/57
Cronin Six more laps. Sainz is 6.8 seconds back. So we’re happy to be a little bit less sliding in 12. Bit less sliding in 12.
Alonso Okay.
Lap: 54/57
Cronin Four laps to go. Safety Car windows are all closed.
Alonso Copy, four laps. Any concern? Any advice? Avoiding kerbs, avoiding a slide in 12, anything more?
Cronin No that’s really good Fernando, all of that is good, we’re happy with everything else.
Alonso Okay, understood.
Cronin You’ve got an eight second gap behind, Sainz is still the car behind, Hamilton’s dropped back from him now.
Alonso Will Lance catch them?
Cronin Lance is four seconds back from Hamilton so I think it’s tough with three to go at the end of this one.
Lap: 56/57
Alonso Copy. Still amazing.
Cronin Yeah, exactly.
Cronin Zhou is just coming out of the pits, he’s a lap down.
Alonso Is this the last lap or not?
Cronin No, this one and one more. This one and one more. Zhou is on soft tyres, 0.9 behind, but he’s a lap down.
Alonso Copy, that’s good.
Cronin So Zhou’s just dropping back, he’s going to go for a fast lap, he’s just dropping back.
“This is a lovely car to drive” – Alonso congratulated team on a successful start to 2023

After taking the chequered flag Alonso hailed his team’s leap forward and added words of praise for Stroll – even after being informed it was his team mate who hit him on the first lap.

“I was happy,” he explained afterwards. “And the car was very nice to drive. That was probably our strength, all through testing.

“This weekend, even though the race felt very long, the last 10 laps, because I wanted to see the chequered flag and being on the podium, the car was very good to drive and I could have driven for another hour or something, just alone on track.”

Lap: 57/57
Cronin Okay this is the last full lap, last full lap.
Alonso Copy, last lap.
Cronin Yes, yes, yes, well done, that’s P3.
Alonso Yes! What you have done, guys, what you have done. I’m so proud of you. This is amazing.
Cronin Okay mate go to run switch ‘cool’, get the pick-up. That’s for Jim’s 60th birthday.
Alonso Happy birthday! The 60s are the new 40s.
Cronin Okay mate take the pick-up. Just to let you know what happened on that first lap at turn four. Lance was trying to get past George and as you switched back to try and get Hamilton, Lance just couldn’t quite get stopped in time. There was no damage to either car so all okay.
Alonso Okay. I thought it was George. Amazing. I mean, guys, you built the second-best car. And by the way, Lance is my hero. Amazing performance, well done everyone.
Cronin Absolutely, mate. Absolutely.
Alonso Where is he? Catching me?
Cronin No Lance is eight seconds behind you, coming out of turn 10.
Cronin So when you stop, Fernando, you’ll park next to the… oh excuse me. So when you come in, you just stop next to the FIA weigh bridge scales, you’re position three there.

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Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023
Alonso celebrated a podium on his debut as an Aston Martin driver

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2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on ““They will kill the tyres”: How Alonso took Aston Martin to the podium in Bahrain”

  1. “Alonso: Okay. This is a lovely car to drive.”

    Having witnessed Fernando’s horrid last decade of F1 and IndyCar as well, this was soo touching to hear!

  2. Interesting on the top speed differences as that could possibly hurt Aston Martin at tracks with long straights. Checking the speed trap from qualifying does suggest a defecit too.

    1. Yeah, I wondered about that as well. Still don’t know if it’s a Mercedes PU or aero package limitation, or simply the setup Aston chose for this race.

      I suspect it was more down to set-up since Hamilton was #4 in the speed trap
      Sainz was #1 at 326.6 kmh
      Hamilton was #4 at 324.4 kmh

  3. That’s a really great read. Super interesting.

    Could someone a bit more technical than me please explain what it means to check the aero balance? And “we’ve got loads of energy”… is that the battery fully topped up?

    1. @shimks

      what it means to check the aero balance

      They’re asking him whether the balance of downforce is towards the front or rear of the car, and therefore what kind of front wing adjustment he’s likely to want at his next pit stop. So if he feels there’s not enough grip at the front, he’ll want a few extra turns on the front wing flap to increase the downforce.

      That also has to change to compensate for changes in tyre compound, which is why when they discuss the possibility of fitting soft tyres at the end of the race they mention ‘taking aero balance off’, i.e. reducing the front wing angle, to compensate for the added turn-in grip of the softer tyres and prevent him having excessive oversteer.

      “we’ve got loads of energy”… is that the battery fully topped up?

      Exactly, they’re referring to how much electrical energy he’s got so he can deploy it to attack.

      1. Brilliant! Many thanks for your time, @keithcollantine!

      2. ah… thanks for this. I thought I knew what it meant. I was wrong :-)

      3. I always keep coming back to RaceFans to read the radio transcript. One of the best quality and most unique items on this website. Love it!

  4. interesting ty

  5. He even has some bandwidth time to watch replays of his crash.

    1. @Prvn I think he more likely meant TVs in the pit lane or paddock, but otherwise, he didn’t have a proper chance, given the specific trackside screen locations, mostly beside straights & or braking zones.

  6. Both Safety Car windows are open

    (Lap 10) Does that mean both Safety Car and Virtual SC, be prepared to come in?

    Amusing last line, as if he wasn’t quite sure where to stop for a podium finish…

  7. That was fun to read. I liked the breaks every so often to summarize.
    Please keep doing this. Thanks.

  8. Awesome article, love this kind of detailed breakdown.

  9. Nice article, thank you

  10. Great knowledgeable commentary like the summary interjecting the radio snippets – made the most of a Great Race & Good deserved position for Alonso & the much improved Aston M Teams performance – really appreciate the Good Engineer’s back-up insight & commentary aiding the Driver’s performance – keep up the ‘Formula’ for a winning post for the F1 community lovers👍😉

  11. Sergey Martyn
    9th March 2023, 16:24

    Why Cronin begins 90% of his sentences with word “So”?

Comments are closed.