Former Bridgestone engineer Ernest Knoors reckons that while working with Fernando Alonso could be “quite difficult”, at least he is motivated as the same cannot be said of his team-mate Lance Stroll.
Nursing two broken bones at the start of the 2023 championship, Alonso called his team-mate “my hero” as the Canadian brought his AMR23 home in sixth place at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
But as the season progressed Stroll fell further and further away from the Spaniard’s outright pace and his frustrations boiled over at the Qatar Grand Prix where he shoved his trainer and threw his steering wheel after yet another Q1 exit.
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Giving abrupt answers in the obligatory media briefly and not saying much more two weeks later in America, pundits questioned whether Stroll even wanted to be a Formula 1 driver anymore.
It was even claimed that he planned to hang up his helmet and take up tennis.
That didn’t happen with Aston Martin confirming he’ll be back on the grid next season where he will yet again partner Alonso.
Ironically while it is Alonso who has a bit of a reputation for being difficult, former Bridgestone engineer Knoors believes it is Stroll who’d be the harder of the two to deal with.
“Ultimately, those boys are all motivated to win, to work hard,” he told racingnews365.nl.
“When you work with Fernando Alonso, it’s a pleasure. When you have him in a team, he can also be quite difficult, because he always pushes for the best solutions for him, while as a team you might want to look for solutions that are best for the entire team.”
But, he added: “In general people who are motivated and push themselves to get the best out of it are always good to work with.”
And that’s why he reckons working with Alonso’s team-mate would not be an easy task.
“The most difficult driver may be a kind of Lance Stroll,” he added. “Those are a lot more difficult characters to assess, but the guys who work directly with him will also have a good relationship with him.”
Fernando Alonso defends ‘dedicated’ and ‘motivated’ Lance Stroll
But while Stroll came in for a lot of stick this season as his desire to remain in Formula 1 was questioned after his antics in Qatar, his team-mate Alonso has defended him.
Speaking to the media including PlanetF1.com, the Spaniard said: “It was impressive to see his dedication and his motivation in the highs and in the lows.
“At the beginning of the year with the broken hand, and then midway through the season with some difficulties, he was so determined to put things back in place again, and eventually he did, after I think Mexico, the race in Brazil, the race in Vegas.
“This was a surprise to me, to be honest, the level of commitment and the level of motivation that he has. So this is only good news and good things for the team.”
He believes Stroll will be back in top form next season after his mid-season slump coincided with Aston Martin’s development woes.
“He’s been through some difficulties this year,” he added.
“The car was just changing the behaviour a little bit and he was just struggling a little bit more than me, and now I think we’ve fixed a few things in the car and he’s back to the top form.”