Mike Krack on “superhuman” Alonso and his quiet rise as Aston Martin team principal


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If Formula 1 handed out a ‘team principal of the year’ award equivalent to the coach or manager of the year prizes found in soccer or American football, then Aston Martin’s Mike Krack would be in strong contention half way through 2023.

Just over a year-and-a-half ago, few F1 fans would have been familiar with the man Aston Martin named as their new team principal ahead of the 2022 season. But Krack is certainly no stranger to the F1 paddock, even having a history of working alongside Sebastian Vettel, one of the team’s two drivers from last season.

In his second year leading Aston Martin, Krack has presided over one of the single biggest leaps up the field a team has made in decades. With six podiums for Fernando Alonso in the opening eight rounds of the championship, Aston Martin sit third in the constructors’ championship with Alonso just one point ahead of Lewis Hamilton in third in the drivers’ standings – meaning Krack’s team are now fully in the fight at the front alongside Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari and even McLaren.

Naturally, that means Krack’s peers are no lesser company than the likes of Christian Horner, Toto Wolff, Frederic Vasseur and Zak Brown. With Horner recently remarking how the makeup of team principals meetings feature far fewer maverick characters like Ron Dennis, Eddie Jordan and Jean Todt, perhaps Krack is the perfect example. With his gentle, almost quiet demeanour, it’s easy to misinterpret Krack’s patience for passivity or assume his calmness means he lacks the competitive drive to succeed. But when you speak to him, you quickly see why Aston Martin chose the former head of BMW motorsport as the leader for their ambitious assault on Formula 1.

Krack came to Aston Martin from BMW
“First of all, I think it starts from that we are a conservative British brand,” he begins. “I think if you represent Aston Martin – and I had it before, I represented BMW – you cannot jump up and down all the time and make the big phrases in the paddock or be controversial. You have to choose your battles, I think. It makes you also much more credible.”

Asked about his reputation for keeping a lower profile compared to the likes of Horner or Wolff, Krack explains that he is very deliberate in his leadership style – both internally with those he leads within the team as well as with the media.

“You have to lead by example,” he says. “What people look at is what you do, not what you say.

“I think the key aspect is that the racing is done by human beings. As much as the racing becomes more dramatic and robotic, there are still human beings doing it – with all their disappointments and all their weaknesses. I think what is really important is to have access to your team. Not just to put big phrases out, but really to be authentic so that they believe you when you say what you will say.

“It is also very crucial not to go every day to the team and tell them ‘you have to do this’, or ‘this is the next thing’. Sometimes you just say nothing for weeks and then you say maybe three or four times in a row – then it is much, much more appreciated and people listen much, much more than if you do your standard speech every Sunday. Which I don’t, I just do it occasionally.

“Then the other thing is also the guys that you just mentioned, they have won everything in the last 13 races. We have won nothing. Again, I’m a humble person. I think we should not come here and play the big drums when we have not even won a race. Maybe when we win ten in a year, you’ll hear me more…”

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Aston Martin may not have won a race in 2023, but they’ve come as close as it’s possible to get in a year where Red Bull maintain a stranglehold over the top step of the podium. But the team’s best results were front-loaded to the start of the season when the AMR23 was clearly the second-fastest car behind the RB19. Does Krack believe his team may have over-achieved at the start of the year?

“It’s a good point,” he says. “I don’t think that we over-performed. I think others under-performed to start with.

Mike Krack, Aston Martin Team Principal, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023
Three podiums in three races marked an excellent start to 2023
“You monitor your gap to the fastest, so we made a good step towards them compared to last year. So there you see that you performed well, but we did not expect that, even with the steps we have made, we would be quick enough to be second. I think it’s a combination. I don’t think we over-performed. I think we performed well, but others under-performed and they are getting their act together later over the season and then they go in between. We have not managed to close that gap. In fact, it has become a little bit bigger.”

While Alonso and much younger team mate Lance Stroll combined for just 21 points over the last three rounds heading into the break – Aston Martin’s fewest across any three round span in 2023 – how does their team principal feel about this dip in form?

“Well, it’s a challenge,” he admits. “At the end of the day, the target is clear where we want to go. When you have, like you said, a ‘dip in form’ – that’s actually a good expression – it’s how do you create a team dynamic to cope with that? Is everybody just upset, because also coincidentally it’s come just before the shutdown when everybody is also a little bit tired – with the double-headers, with the sprint, the ATA [alternative tyre allocation at the Hungarian Grand Prix]. It is intense. It is really intense.

“After the double-header with the British Grand Prix, I was really tired after that – so tired as I’ve never been before. This shows you the intensity. Then if you combine tiredness with a dip in form, that is normally not a very good mix or a good cocktail. That is why I was so surprised to see the [positive] reaction from the team – it’s really showed me that it’s a really good team.”

Team fatigue is just one of the many challenges Krack says he has to manage as team principal – especially so when the team’s on-track performance has dropped since the start of the season when everyone’s energy levels were naturally highest.

“You always need to you start with yourself; how do I behave myself, how do I lead myself in such situations,” he explains. “Because also you have to be the leader. You cannot just open the valve and shout at everybody – this is not my nature.

“I think we came from Austria, which was a sprint, then we had the whole week building up to the British Grand Prix with the whole programme around our new complex [Silverstone factory] and everything. Again, the British Grand Prix was super intense in terms of commitment, partners, media sessions – it had the feeling it didn’t stop. Now we had Budapest with the ATA, we had the Spa sprint with a dip in form, so it’s really a challenge to keep everybody on it.

“You have also to allow people to be a bit grumpy. Maybe now it’s needed more – like a hug or a clap on the shoulder – much, much more than if we do well. So this is what I’m trying to feel who needs that and who doesn’t.”

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Do his drivers, 24-year-old Stroll and 42-year-old Alonso, require that same level of emotional support?

“They are also human beings. I think every human being needs it,” he says. “It’s just a matter of how much they show if they need it or they don’t need it.

Krack is one of many major recent arrivals at Aston Martin
“At the end of the day, everybody wants to be loved. Everybody wants to be appreciated. And a hug is just one way of it. I think every human being needs it and everybody wants it – it’s just a matter of showing it. Like ‘I’m the harder one’, or ‘I can handle it better than others’. I think under the line they are all the same.”

As difficult as it is to imagine F1’s most experienced ever driver accepting a warm embrace from his team principal, Krack is also just one of many key senior figures to have joined the Silverstone team in recent seasons. With so much money and resources being invested into Aston Martin to make them legitimate championship contenders in the years to come, Krack is very clear that his team is not a one man show.

“This is not something that is Mike alone,” Krack stresses. “I have a great team around me with Dan [Fallows, technical director], with Tom [McCullough, performance director], with Eric [Blandin, deputy technical director], with Luca [Furbatto, engineering director]. They are all very, very good people. And then we have the sporting side. This is not like a dictatorship – everybody has his say there and everybody supports in different areas. That is also the only way of how you can manage that, that you can rely on these people.”

But while the focus of those colleagues is on the car, Krack has greater oversight over the drivers. Naturally, the conversation turns to Alonso – by far the team’s best performer so far – who appears not to have lost a single tenth in raw speed despite reaching an age the vast majority of F1 drivers fail to get to as competitors in the sport.

“What I have seen, I have never seen before,” Krack says of Alonso. “With any kind of driver – whatever age, whatever kind of category – I’ve never seen anything like that before. I’m still deeply impressed with the first races we have done now.”

At his age, is Alonso superhuman? “That’s probably a good, wording,” he agrees. “That’s probably the right thing.

“The reaction times – we always look at it – they are fantastic. It’s just incredible. So it is probably “superhuman”, as you mentioned.”

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But while Alonso has delivered for Aston Martin immediately from joining the team, Stroll is struggling to match his more experienced team mate. Of course, Stroll is not just the team’s second driver, he is also the son of Aston Martin’s chairman, Lawrence Stroll. How challenging a situation is the disparity between Krack’s two drivers – especially when the one underperforming is his boss’s son?

“The whole thing is not really weighing on us,” Krack insists. “We do not look at the disparity in points between the two, we always look at how many points do we have in the championship. We do not look really in detail how many has he scored less than the other driver. For us, we always try to do the best with both.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023
Alonso has been the team’s more successful driver
“Yes, when you look at it, there is a big difference in points. But if you look through to how it came about, how did it happen, you find sensible explanations for how it went. And then also we had when we had the car at the sweet spot, Fernando scored all these big points and Lance came from the injuries, had the DNF, and then in Miami we didn’t really do well in terms of what we did as a team. All this accumulates and then you have this big difference in points. But for us as a team, it’s not really a problem. Because you can see like in Hungary, he’s competitive, he’s on similar levels to Fernando. And I think you need not to forget you have one of the greatest drivers of all time as your team-mate – this is not easy. The way he handles it and the way he comes with it, I think is really super nice.”

Whether or not Stroll’s performances dramatically pick up over the second half of the season or not, he is likely to remain at the team throughout Krack’s tenure at Aston Martin – and Krack surely knows it. But even if his team lose third place in the constructors’ championship over the remaining ten rounds of the season, Aston Martin have already shown remarkable progress with Krack at the helm.

The end goal of winning championships may be a few years away from being achievable at this stage, but if Aston Martin continue this upward trend over the coming seasons, don’t be surprised if you start to hear a lot more from Mike Krack.

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
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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2 comments on “Mike Krack on “superhuman” Alonso and his quiet rise as Aston Martin team principal”

  1. Good interview, Will & Claire ;) .

    AM still has to pass through the teething problems of being a top contender, and I think there are still many, many, MANY challenges in the future. The factory is brand new, the wind tunnel will be operative within a year and it still needs several months of calibrations and validations: probably its maiden uses will be focused on developing the 2025 car… which won’t need so much development as 2026 will be a new story from scratch.

    And more important: even if they find themselves with the best car in 2025 (pretty unlikely), Alonso & Stroll won’t be a winner pairing. Fernando would need a slight car advantage over Verstappen, and Stroll won’t be by any means a help in a fight for the title. He’s just unable to take points away from Max or something like that.

    My point is: even if the factory works well, the wind tunnel works well, Alonso still keeps “it” until 2025 and the car is suddenly the best on the grid (and they are massive “ifs”), they won’t be able to win the championship. They will have to wait at least until 2026, and the problem is that a lot of teams will have the same plans of winning in 2026. Will Mike Krack be around here by that time? Who knows. But it’s obvious that he has to command the ship during the building period, and at the moment he’s doing quite well. The problem is that there are still hundreds of things to fix. Create a winning team is a massive task.

  2. Very interesting interview. The ‘dip in form’ seems to me to be predominantly about losing out in the development race and other teams having caught up or even overtaken Aston Martin with their upgrades. Curious to see if AM can turn this around and if everybody will keep it’s cool in the event they don’t. I sure hope they can and we will be in for an amazing battle behind the Red Bull(s) for second best.

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