A respected Formula 1 observer has claimed that team owner Lawrence Stroll will not be enjoying watching Fernando Alonso upstage his son Lance and become the centre of attention at Aston Martin.
Aston Martin’s strong start to the 2023 season continued at last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, where Alonso finished third behind the Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen having also finished P3 at the season opener in Bahrain.
Alonso’s team-mate Lance recovered from a pre-season bike accident to finish sixth in the first race of 2023, but retired after just 16 laps in Jeddah with an engine issue – having made arguably the overtake of the race on the first lap around the outside of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari.
With team principal Mike Krack commenting in Saudi Arabia that Alonso has inspired the entire Aston Martin squad since succeeding Sebastian Vettel over the winter, former Williams and Ferrari team manager Peter Windsor believes Stroll Sr will have mixed feelings about the two-time World Champion becoming the centre of attention.
Speaking via his YouTube channel, Windsor said: “At the end [of the race], with all the Aston Martin mechanics in green in front of the podium and Fernando being Mr Charm, Mr Charisma with the fluorescent green Aston Martin cap and smile and just looking a hundred million dollars, you had to think, ‘not sure Stroll Sr will be that happy about the way things are going at the moment’.
“This is Fernando almost becoming bigger than the team and [Stroll will be thinking] what’s happening with my son? Why’s he retired? What’s going on?”
“I’m probably exaggerating there and probably it will not be that, but I’m just suggesting that is a sign that this is a very different sort of team.”
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Windsor explained that the situation at Aston Martin, with the team owned by the father of one of the drivers, creates a different dynamic to most other F1 teams.
He said: “This isn’t Red Bull, where Dietrich Mateschitz loved lots of different racing drivers and loved putting them together, seeing them compete and giving an opportunity to many young drivers.
“This is the father of one driver effectively buying a Formula 1 team for him and seeing now the Fernando Alonso phenomenon and he wants his son there.”
Following Alonso’s podium in Bahrain, Mr Stroll revealed that his relationship with the two-time World Champion goes back to 2011 when Alonso drove for Ferrari and his son was a member of the Scuderia’s junior driver initiative.
He told Sky Sports: “I’ve known Fernando for a while, as has Lance.”
“When Fernando was a driver in the Ferrari Formula 1 team, Lance was in the Ferrari Driver Academy – he was 12, so it was 12 years ago, so they’ve known each other that long.
“Obviously Fernando is one of the greatest drivers [there] has been. We’ve known each other a long time and Fernando shared my belief [in the Aston Martin project]. I went to him, I said, ‘here’s my plans for the future’.
“And because [of] the fact he knows me so long he says, ‘you’re going to be the future, I want to be a part of it’, and that’s why he chose to join us.”