Alonso’s Refusal To Pass Aston Martin F1 Teammate Stroll Raises Eyebrows
Despite having a stronger pace, fresher tires, and no team orders involved, Alonso chose to hold position.
The Aston Martin Formula 1 Team didn't enjoy the best of weekends after seeing its season-long podium-earning performance fizzle into midfield levels at Sunday's 2023 Spanish F1 Grand Prix. The odd occurrence was made even more bizarre after the team's star driver, Fernando Alonso, decided to not attack his teammate Lance Stroll in the closing stages of the race.
Alonso was running in seventh place and Stroll sixth with just 10 laps to go, when the Spaniard came on the radio to say that he would take "no risks" and stay in place. So far, it appears it was a voluntary decision as no team orders were broadcasted. Making things even weirder, however, is the fact that Alonso had newer tires and a stronger pace than Stroll.
“It was 10 laps to the end, I had a little bit fresher tires—but like one or two tenths faster than him, no more than that,” Alonso told media after the race, according to RaceFans. “I will not get crazy. I damaged one floor yesterday, I didn’t want to damage another one today, or he [Stroll] damages [his] floor or anything just try to secure the place. For us it’s the same: sixth and seventh, and seventh and sixth."
I don't buy into every conspiracy theory about intra-team politics because, well, most of the time they are BS. However, this interaction stands out and raises some eyebrows. For starters, "one or two-tenths faster" is nothing to scoff at. In fact, it's a strong advantage to have over any rival on the track—not to mention the fresher tires. And then there's Alonso's own words saying he didn't want to "get crazy" and risk damaging his floor, or Stroll damaging his while defending. Does the two-time world champion really not believe he could've made a clean pass in a faster car with more grip? Absurdity.
This year's Spanish Grand Prix enjoyed plenty of passing—plenty of clean passing—and its revised layout created a good show for the fans. For such a talented driver to say that he didn't want to risk damaging both cars is puzzling to say the least.
Is it possible that Alonso, Stroll, and Aston Martin team bosses met pre-race and agreed to hold positions if they found themselves in this situation during the race? Yes. Is it possible that Alonso voluntarily chose to forego a few points to please Daddy Stroll and Baby Stroll? Also yes. Is it disappointing to see Alonso not hunt down all of his rivals? Absolutely.
"If you no longer go for a gap, you're no longer a racing driver," three-time Formula 1 champion Ayrton Senna famously said back in the '90s. While the catchy phrase has certainly been used as an excuse for many unwise passing maneuvers throughout the years, it's one that should remain in the minds of the world's best racing drivers—especially when there seem to be no team orders involved.
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