Alonso 'drove like it was his first season in F1' - Krack

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23. 17.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images
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Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack says that far from showing his age, the team's star driver Fernando Alonso has been performing more like it's his first season in Formula 1.

That would be a driver with the energy and vitality of a rookie, but the experience and skill of a 19-season veteran with two world championships to his name - making him a formidable combination on the track.

Alonso moved to Aston at the start of 2023 and had one of his best-ever spells in the sport with six podiums in the first eight races, and even a shot of a race win at Monaco until the team called him in for new tyres.

A much-improved car was also a crucial factor in the team's sudden surge to the front, but Krack admitted that the 'Alonso factor' during that period could not be understated.

“We had a driver where you would have thought it was his first season," Krack said in comments reported by Australian publication Speedcafe. "He was full of energy, not only driving us on but also driving himself on.

“A lot of drivers go to smaller teams, and they try to take what they can through to the end of their career," he added. “This is not what we have seen with Fernando. Actually, it's completely the opposite.

“He really led by example, being the first in the office. You arrive in the morning, and he is sitting there. He would (jokingly) say, ‘Good afternoon guys'.

“This has affected the team, pushed the team, and we have a much better team now than 12 months ago," Krack said. “Obviously there's also credit to others, not only Fernando, but this has made us improve much, much more than we would have if he was not here.

(L to R): Mike Krack (LUX) Aston Martin F1 Team, Team Principal with Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team and Eric Blandin (FRA) Aston Martin F1 Team Deputy Technical Director. Formula One Testing, Day One, Thursday 23rd February 2023. Sakhir, Bahrain. 23.02.2023. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day One. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Alonso arrived at Aston Martin in place of Sebastian Vettel who retired from F1 at the end of the 2022 season, but Krack resisted the temptation to compare the two former world champions in terms of driver ability.

“Sebastian was obviously at the end of his [time in F1,” Krack said. “He had made it his choice that he was going to stop. For Fernando, it was a different situation. He saw it as another challenge.”

Unfortunately Aston was unable to maintain its early season momentum and fell behind its rivals in terms of development as the season went on, although Alonso didn't let up and finished on the podium in the Dutch and Sao Paulo GPs.

“Drivers are very, very sensitive sensors, they can feel the smallest vibrations in the team," Krack said, saying that having Alonso in the cockpit meant that they never had to ask the question 'can the car go faster?'

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23. 28.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

“It's very good for the team, and it builds also a lot of trust from the team to the driver and vice versa," he said. "[Fernando] feels this trust we have, and nobody's ever doubting when he does something, and that works both ways.”

Alonso finished the season in fourth place on 206 points, thoroughly eclipsing his team mate Lance Stroll who was P10 having amassed just 74 points all season.

"They are great team-mates," Krack insisted. "They talk a lot: how to improve here, how to improve there, how do you drive here, how do you drive there.

“This is complimentary to all the driving analysis that we also do," he said. "They have really helped each other. Again, as a team, with our drivers, we are much much stronger now than we were 12 months ago.”

3rd place Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR23. 02.04.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

But Krack admitted that it really not easy” to be Alonso's team mate at the best of times, but said Stroll had “learned a huge amount from Fernando” in terms of “how to manage difficult situations”.

"We have all learned a great deal," he argued. "How we have to go on with things, to stick to what we know, and not trying to invent things, but sticking to our data, to the analysis, and moving on from there."

The key question is whether Aston will be able to build on last year's progress and carry the same momentum into this year's season. The new AMR24 will be unveiled on February 12 ahead of pre-season testing and first race of the season in Bahrain later in the month.

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