Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll weren’t contenders for the podium in Austria, and think they know why.
Austria was only the third race from the nine held in 2023 that Aston Martin have failed to finish on the podium, with neither Fernando Alonso nor Lance Stroll ever looking quick enough to be able to get in the mix at the very front of the field.
Their efforts weren’t helped by a mistimed decision to call both drivers in for their first pitstops, as they attempted to make the most of an early Virtual Safety Car – only for the race to resume while still in the pitlane.
Fernando Alonso: Sixth was more or less our maximum
Alonso came home in sixth place before a swathe of post-race penalties moved him up to fifth, having started the race on the hard tyre in a bid to run long, only for that strategy to be abandoned on Lap 15 on the second lap of the Virtual Safety Car as the Spaniard pitted for used mediums.
Falling down the order as a result of the stop as the race resumed, Alonso was circumspect about the outcome as he spoke to the media afterward – the two-time World Champion being one of the drivers who may yet move up a place or two following Aston Martin’s protest of the results as they’ve argued some drivers were not penalised for track limits violations.
“It was more or less the maximum we could achieve today,” he said.
“It was very close with Lando [Norris] and the Mercedes’, and I think [we could have had] maybe more clear communication for the pit stops but I don’t think it changed the outcome of the race – today was the maximum.”
As for why Aston Martin weren’t in contention overall, whether it be down to the circumstances of the race or the lack of upgrades introduced to the AMR23 this weekend, Alonso suspected the circuit characteristics played a role.
“I don’t know. I think it’s a little bit of everything,” he said.
“Maybe the circuit didn’t suit our car. Last year, Aston struggled a lot in Austria as well. So there are some similarities from last year as well – Haas here was very fast. I think it was sixth and seventh on the grid last year. They were fast this year, too.
“So a little bit of the circuit, and a little bit of the upgrades that everyone else brought here. But yeah, we should not be too worried. We have another opportunity next week.”
Lance Stroll: That race was just damage limitation
Lance Stroll was similarly affected by his early stop under the VSC, with Aston Martin choosing to try a three-stop strategy in a bid to bring him back into contention.
“We missed out – there was like a lap where we both just stayed out and then we stopped the second lap of the Virtual Safety Car,” he rued afterward.
“So yeah, we lost like five positions there and came out like P13 after being P8.
“Then it was just about climbing our way back up and in traffic the whole race and trying to do alternative strategies, so it was a tough day all in all – it was just damage limitation after the Safety Car.”
Despite their subdued afternoon, Aston Martin remain third in the Constructors’ Championship – 21 points clear of Ferrari after a weekend at which the Scuderia was, undeniably, the quicker outfit.
Next weekend’s race at Silverstone should be stronger, according to Alonso.
“I think we should be okay at Silverstone, it is an incredible track to drive with the fast corners,” he said.
“We race at home too with the factory just a few metres away so we will give it all.”