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

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
Alonso We are running too close to the cars in front.
Chris Cronin Copy Fernando. We just want to make a bit more of a gap to Norris behind Lance.
Cronin Hamilton one second, Lance one second. Hamilton 0.9.
Lap: 5/51
Stroll No, I will not attack. Cronin Fernando we will start more management now. Both cars will do more management. Consider one click forward brake balance.
Ben Michell Copy.
Stroll We are both playing the same game.
Lap: 6/51
Michell Copy that. Cronin So can confirm Fernando, Lance will not attack you. He’s doing the same as you.
Alonso I mean, he can have a go. I think Hamilton is opening the graining, but it’s just a matter of time we overtake them.
Cronin Yeah copy mate, copy.
Lap: 7/51
Cronin So 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
Michell Hamilton ahead of Fernando, who’s struggling with rears, graining. Alonso Which lap are we and is Hamilton in the DRS of Sainz?
Michell The other car’s starting to push on Hamilton. But he’s doing more lift-and-coast than you, double. Cronin Hamilton 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.
Alonso Yep, 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
Michell Plus two on brake balance, suggestion. Alonso Copy. Tell Lance my brake balance suggestion, as I am now, I think it’s a good help.
Cronin Yeah. 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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