Revealed: Why Lance Stroll got Aston Martin’s big Japanese GP upgrades before Fernando Alonso

Oliver Harden
Lance Stroll on track at Suzuka with Fernando Alonso pictured in an inset

Lance Stroll received Aston Martin's new upgrade before Fernando Alonso at Suzuka

Lance Stroll’s race-ending crash at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix played a part in him receiving Aston Martin’s big Japanese GP upgrade before team-mate Fernando Alonso, it has emerged.

Following a muted start to the F1 2024 season, Aston Martin have arrived at Suzuka armed with a significant upgrade, with noticeable changes to the sidepods, floor and engine cover.

Lance Stroll, not Fernando Alonso, gets Aston Martin’s first big upgrade of F1 2024

Although the update has been tipped to alter the trajectory of Aston Martin’s campaign, only Stroll ran the new parts during Friday practice at Suzuka with Alonso running the previous-spec AMR24.

That is despite Alonso currently holding a seven-point lead over Stroll in the Drivers’ standings, as well as his record from the 2023 campaign when he claimed a total of eight podium finishes as Stroll suffered arguably the worst season of his career.

However, a report by German publication Auto Motor und Sport has revealed that Stroll’s accident in Jeddah last month – when he retired after just five laps after striking a barrier – resulted in him being given priority over Alonso. recommends

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With Stroll’s chassis requiring repairs, Aston Martin reportedly fitted the new parts as they went along rather than bringing a separate upgrade to the track in Japan.

Despite running the upgrade, Stroll was classified 15th in the opening practice session at Suzuka – almost 1.5 seconds adrift of seventh-placed Alonso.

With upgrades for Alonso’s car only arriving at the circuit on Friday evening, AMuS reports Aston Martin now face a decision over whether to fit the new parts overnight or wait until the next race in China to race the new-look AMR24 for the first time.

Having gradually faded after a strong start to the 2023 season, there is huge pressure on Aston Martin to demonstrate good in-season development in 2024.

Mike Krack, the Aston Martin team principal, revealed the team had intended to run both the new and old-spec AMR24 in practice for a direct comparison at Suzuka as the team aim to address their weaknesses of last season.

“We had two bad experiences last year with not splitting up when upgrading,” he is quoted as saying by AMuS.

Krack’s comments come after he firmly denied that Aston Martin have made a big-money offer to sign Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey amid the current uncertainty engulfing the reigning Constructors’ Champions.

Asked if there was any truth to Aston Martin’s alleged approach for Newey, Krack replied: “No.”

Pressed on the matter, he added: “We have a very strong technical team with Dan [Fallows, technical director], with Tom [McCullough, performance director], with Luca [Furbatto, engineering director], we were joined lately by Bob Bell [executive director].

“So, we’re quite happy with what we have at the moment.”

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