Aston Martin radio messages reveal how “older brother” Alonso helps Stroll

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll’s radio messages during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix were perhaps the most memorable broadcast on the world feed coverage of the race due to how the two Aston Martin team mates appeared to be actively working to help each other.

The pair finished the race fourth and seventh respectively, with Alonso less than a second away from beating Charles Leclerc and only just missing out on a fourth podium finish in a row.

During the early laps of Sunday’s grand prix, the Aston Martin drivers found themselves behind Lewis Hamilton in sixth and seventh. Stroll was right behind his team mate, but informed race engineer Ben Michell that he was not planning to try and overtake Alonso ahead:

Lap: 4/51
AlonsoWe are running too close to the cars in front.
Chris CroninCopy Fernando. We just want to make a bit more of a gap to Norris behind Lance.
CroninHamilton one second, Lance one second. Hamilton 0.9.
Lap: 5/51
StrollNo, I will not attack.CroninFernando we will start more management now. Both cars will do more management. Consider one click forward brake balance.
Ben MichellCopy.
StrollWe are both playing the same game.
Lap: 6/51
MichellCopy that.CroninSo can confirm Fernando, Lance will not attack you. He’s doing the same as you.
AlonsoI mean, he can have a go. I think Hamilton is opening the graining, but it’s just a matter of time we overtake them.
CroninYeah copy mate, copy.
Lap: 7/51
CroninSo you’re doing a really good job on these tyres. They’re quite a bit cooler than the other car. This will help us later.
Lap: 8/51
MichellHamilton ahead of Fernando, who’s struggling with rears, graining.AlonsoWhich lap are we and is Hamilton in the DRS of Sainz?
MichellThe other car’s starting to push on Hamilton. But he’s doing more lift-and-coast than you, double.CroninHamilton is not in the DRS, Hamilton is not. We’re on lap eight, we’re on lap eight. Hamilton is complaining of tyres graining already, Hamilton’s complaining.
AlonsoYep, let’s pass him.

Later in the race Alonso talked about the effectiveness of a set-up selection with his engineer Chris Cronin and told him to pass that detail on to Stroll:

Lap: 18/51
MichellPlus two on brake balance, suggestion.AlonsoCopy. Tell Lance my brake balance suggestion, as I am now, I think it’s a good help.
CroninYeah. Copy, all understood.

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Naturally, the pair’s radio chatter attracted attention after the race, with Alonso explaining that both he and Stroll had an open dialogue with each other across the three day event.

“We talk a lot during the weekend,” said Alonso. “Already from Thursday, [about] what we both felt here in the past. Also in the strategy meeting – what we can do, what will be the plan for each of the cars and things like that.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Baku City Circuit, 2023
Alonso offered setting advice for Stroll in the race
“So if we feel something in the car during the race that we didn’t speak about, and there is something new that can help the other car, normally we communicate to the team.

“I know that I will be in the sport for a few more years, but not many, and he will lead the team for the next 10 or 15 years. So I hope I can help Lance as much as I can in the next few years.”

Communication between the drivers on Friday was even more important than usual in Baku as the sprint race format meant that cars were again placed under parc ferme conditions at on Friday afternoon, restricting what changes could be made for the rest of the weekend. Some of the feedback the drivers had could not be acted upon by the team.

“We were both thinking about the race,” Stroll later explained. “He had better pace so I didn’t want to push him in that sense.

“I felt like it was smart for both of us to manage at the beginning of the race, and then he kind of took off and had a really good pace on the hards. And I struggled with balance and didn’t really get into a happy place.”

While Alonso’s brake balance recommendation was shared with Stroll, it was not until he was speaking to media post-race that he learned that it had stemmed from his team mate. “I heard about that now,” Stroll said. “He returned the favour.”

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Stroll is the 14th different team mate Alonso has raced alongside in his record-breaking F1 career. Their smooth co-operation appears to stand in contrast to some of the prickly relationships Alonso has had with past team mates.

But even though Alonso has only been partnered with Stroll for four grands prix since joining the resurgent Aston Martin team at the start of 2023, the twice-champion insists their rapport is not unique and he has shared co-operative partnerships before in F1.

“I have in the past,” he said, “but only some of my radios were broadcasted, not these ones [showing such relationships]. So for whatever reason now F1 is kind to me.”

Aston Martin are having their best start to a season
On a tricky weekend for Aston Martin due to DRS failure on Friday, team principal Mike Krack was pleased that driver co-operation had helped extend their advantage over Mercedes in the battle for second in the constructors’ championship.

“It’s fantastic to see,” said Krack. “It shows the maturity of Lance and Fernando, the way they work together, the way they also act with each other, and they have clearly understood also that our opponents are not the green car relative, but others.

“I think if we can manage to keep this harmony between the two, pushing each other, but also helping each other when it matters, it will only benefit us in the long run.”

The team is enjoying its most successful start to a season not only under its current guise but taking into account all of the entities it has competed as since joining F1 in 1991 as Jordan. Before that it raced in F1’s primary feeder series Formula 3000, but also never had early-season success that matched its current level of form.

Two-times F1 world champion Alonso has contributed over two-thirds of the team’s 97 points this season, and the Baku radio messages prompted some to describe Alonso – the most experienced F1 driver of all time – as an almost big brother figure to Stroll.

“Lance is not a little brother,” Krack insisted. “They are both for me equal eye-level.

“You have many times where Fernando looks at what Lance is doing and vice versa. So I think they are proper team mates, not big brother, little brother. You can say older brother and younger brother.”

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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Ida Wood
    Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
    Claire Cottingham
    Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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    22 comments on “Aston Martin radio messages reveal how “older brother” Alonso helps Stroll”

    1. This is the way.

      1. Until they take their helmets off

    2. I guess it is good to see some solid teamwork. As always since his return Alonso’s radio has been a solid addition to the fun of following a race.

    3. I don’t really know what to make of it. Somehow I don’t completely buy Alonso’s attitude and this almost submissive behavior doesn’t really look like him.

      But I find Stroll’s part funny. Here comes an ex world champion past retirement age, beats him on track and achieves important successes for the team while he stands by his side with almost parental concern, and all Stroll can do is smile and play along.

      1. I mean ..Stroll wasn’t a match for Vettel… so Alonso is a couple leagues above him. What else can he do but smile and say he’s learning from legends? Stroll hasn’t been better than any teammate bar Sirotkin .. and even that’s debatable as Sirotkin looked the quicker of the two on Saturdays in his rookie season.

      2. I think it mostly just shows how little of a threat Alonso thinks Stroll is as well as how much he realizes that he’s only going to make the boss happy by being nice to his little boy. Alonso never does anything without reason, as one of the most calculated drivers in the grid.

        1. This. Plus he has seen how for instance Lewis displays less friendly behavior and less sportsmanship and the public response to it. He deliberately is trying to do something else. His likeable chap imago is partly PR. But in the end who cares. His entertainment value is high and unlike Lewis he goes well with the new generation of drivers that also seem to be enjoying themselves and have good relationships between them.

      3. Dick Dawson
        4th May 2023, 17:45

        IMO this shows how well daddy stroll is paying fernando. But really I would say that is part but there is a change in the old man these days as well. He seems to have found a real happy place in life and it does look good on him.

    4. I want to see Stroll suggesting something back now. He’s in his 7th year, he’s seasoned enough to provide some advices of his own.

    5. I’d understand if this “younger driver” would lead Aston in the next 10 or 15 years as a new owner, or assist his daddy, but I can’t see him “leading” the team as a driver. After all, how can he lead, when he’s always behind (the only constant in his career)? I like Alonso, I almost became a fan recently, but this is almost pathetic now. I understand his role to help Junior, I suppose that was the agreement between him and Senior when he signed the deal, but he can really go too far, in either direction.

      1. this is almost pathetic … he can really go too far

        Alonso simply realised that the teammate he has is:

        a) in an unassailably strong position within the team, and
        b) nothing to worry about,

        so he might as well play as nice as possible, in his own interest.

    6. If Fernando changes his surname to Stroll, he’d be guaranteed another 10-15 years at Aston Martin too!

    7. It must be written into his contract.

    8. Older brother or subordinate employee.

    9. 😳. All the cynics crawling out from under their rocks bellyaching🤔🤣😆. You can’t just take what Fernando is doing at face value and say good luck to him😳. Their has to be an ulterior motive in some people’s minds🤣😆

    10. Adam (@rocketpanda)
      4th May 2023, 17:15

      I don’t really know why Stroll is still here. If he was judged on ability and wasn’t the son of the team’s owner, and filthy rich he’d have been bounced out years ago. Consistently behind every team-mate he’s had, his two or three good performances – that statistically would happen given the disappointing length of his career thus far – don’t make up for the myriad of anonymous appearances. No wonder Alonso feels happy to help him; he’s quite literally no threat to him – or anyone else.

      1. He’s not doing too badly in relation to alonso, who’s a very strong driver, I doubt stroll is the worst in the grid atm.

        1. I agree. He has shown some skills in the wet, which to me gives him the benefit of the doubt. As to Alonso, he is old enough to distinguish the things he can and can’t control. Stroll jr is a given, might as well make the best of it.

      2. on the grid*

      3. To be fair he isn’t that bad. He’s better than say Schumacher or a guy like Hulkenberg that is still on the grid and absolute rubbish.

    11. I remember allowing my company Chairman’s kid to draw all over my laptop(the screen too) with a Whiteboard Marker Pen. It was one of those bring-your-kid-to-work days.

      One of the easiest things I had ever done to appease an employer in this life. Best of luck, Alonso.

    12. Son I gave you money. I gave you a career, a dream. Now I gave you a car. I gave you an another mentor. What else do you want?

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