‘Aston Martin playing with only Messi with Lance Stroll not seen or heard’

Michelle Foster
Aston Martin drivers Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso in conversation at the conclusion of Australian Grand Prix qualifying. Melbourne, April 2023.

Aston Martin drivers Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso in conversation at the conclusion of Australian Grand Prix qualifying.

Former F1 team manager Joan Villadelprat believes Aston Martin have just one star driver in Fernando Alonso with Lance Stroll “neither seen nor heard”, and it’s affecting their position in the standings.

While Alonso has emerged as one of the stars of this year’s championship, the Spaniard claiming seven podium finishes to sit third in the Drivers’ standings, Stroll has yet to spray the celebratory champagne.

Worse yet, his deficit to Alonso appears to be growing.

‘All Aston Martin eggs are in the Fernando Alonso basket’

In the seven races since the Spanish Grand Prix, which was the only time Stroll crossed the finish line ahead of his teammate, the Canadian has scored just 12 points compared to Alonso’s 71.

That’s cost Aston Martin dearly in the Constructors’ Championship with the early-season P2 team now down in fourth place.

Villadelprat says it’s like Aston Martin is playing with “only Messi” on the pitch.

“Aston Martin is playing only with Messi, you need someone else behind him,” he told El Confidencial.

“Stroll is neither seen nor heard. This is tremendous for the Constructors’ Championship.

“Although it is not a phenomenon, he is among the top 10 and Fernando is among the top five. But lately, Stroll has been doing a miserable job.

“All your eggs are in the same basket, Fernando.”

In sharp contrast the 68-year-old was full of praise for Alonso’s work ethic, speed, and racing ability, saying his compatriot is one of the greats even if he only has two World titles to his name.

“Fernando studies everything, he has many resources that work for him,” said Villadelprat. “Others can see them, but they don’t work. He doesn’t normally make mistakes, he doesn’t touch anyone, and he races clean.

“We have the speed of Fernando from when he was young, the intelligence of a driver who had to be five-time World Champion, and the same desire as when he started.

“And all of this mixed into the same cocktail makes him a driver who, at this moment, is considered one of the greats, regardless of the titles he has. He is in the book of greats, who are usually those who have won more than three titles, even if he has not won them.

“But he is respected by everyone, by Max, Lewis, for being great. They admire him, and this is scary. What’s more, they admire him and like hand-to-hand combat with him, because he is a clean guy, and they can play with him like they do in karts.”

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But, and there often seems to be a but when speaking about Alonso, Villadelprat feels the comments he sometimes makes are out of line.

Citing an example, he said: “He recently questioned whether Hamilton or Verstappen made a team such and such. In this sense, he sometimes makes statements in which he does not gain anything in return.

“Fernando has the admiration of everyone, what he should not create are enemies or antipathies, because Fernando, in Formula 1, for what he does, for his age, for his friendliness, his ability to speak clearly to the FIA or whoever, he has the respect and admiration of many people.

“This can change if you touch other people’s idols. You create antipathies that are unnecessary.

“But Fernando will always be like that, he still has the same troubles as when he was young, when he has to let go of something… [laughs].

“If it were for a psychological fight, that you are fighting for the title, and you have an enemy and you play this game, okay, but if you have nothing to win, when everyone loves you and worships you… But if it were not so it wouldn’t be Fernando.”

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