Andrea Stella reckons the three most complete drivers on today’s grid who would compete for wins in the same car are Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso, and McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Although Verstappen blitzed his rivals in 2023, winning 19 of 22 Grands Prix, behind Red Bull there was an interesting tussle to be best of the rest.
Initially belonging to Fernando Alonso in the early races, it was Norris who then emerged as Verstappen’s nearest rival as the season progressed as he claimed six runner-up results.
Andrea Stella highlights Fernando Alonso’s ‘unique’ quality
However, McLaren’s poor start to the championship meant he finished the campaign sixth in the Drivers’ Championship while Aston Martin’s wrong development path with their AMR23 dropped Alonso to fourth, one point ahead.
Stella puts those two on a par with Verstappen if they were all racing the “same” car.
“My top three drivers with the same cars would be Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso,” the McLaren team boss told DAZN.
The Italian believes Norris and his new team-mate Oscar Piastri share qualities with Alonso, a double World Champion who he rates as the most complete driver on today’s grid.
“Oscar is talented and let me say intelligent,” he explained. “His brain capabilities are very high. He has very interesting characteristics. I would say that he is very calm.
“Lando is already one of the best drivers on the grid. He is very fast, very good in the race, with tyre management.
“When I think about Lando, I think that if the team and I gave him a good car, he would be able to fight for the championship.
“When we talk about being the most complete, I definitely think of Fernando Alonso.
“He basically has no weaknesses. I think this makes him unique. He is not the best in many things, but he is very strong in all of them.
“I think that in Oscar I see his powerful mind, he is definitely like Fernando. He can do mathematical calculations while driving.
“On the other hand, Lando, I think his development as a driver will make him so complete. He reminds me a little of Fernando.”
There was no mention of seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton in Stella’s top three despite the Mercedes driver ending the season best of the rest in third place.
McLaren will do their ‘own thing’ to close the gap to Red Bull
As for McLaren, they bounced back from their early season troubles to put a B-spec on the grid at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Turning their fortunes around, the Woking team outscored every rival except Red Bull in the latter 14 races to finish fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.
“For us, for McLaren, it has been a positive season,” said Stella.
“Exhausting, we are feeling the fatigue, but at the same time we have pleasant feelings plus satisfaction for these results we are achieving. We are proud of what we have achieved.”
And he is prouder yet to have emerged as the team taking the fight to Verstappen and Red Bull, although he accepts there’s still a long way to go.
“I think Max Verstappen is completely out of place. To think that he is there and that we can fight with Red Bull because they are very strong,” he added.
“Look at what they have achieved this year and I am sure that they still have a lot more to unfold. As if they could take another step. Better to stick to our own thing and maintain our internal journey. And see where we can be more competitive.
“I’d like to see Zak Brown punching in the garage as much as possible. Because apparently when the results are good, he high-fives you really hard, so we’d like to see him punching in the garage, smiling, and being happy means that good things are happening.”