Lance Stroll has admitted that Aston Martin team-mate Fernando Alonso remains “a little bit quicker” even when he feels like he’s got “the most out of the car”.
Alonso arrived at Aston Martin over the winter to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel, taking advantage of the British marque’s improvement to score six podiums across the opening eight races in 2023.
That early run has paved the way for the Spaniard to sit third in the Drivers’ Championship at the summer break, a seismic 102 points ahead of Stroll.
Stroll, who missed the entirety of pre-season testing with two broken wrists, has only been able to finish ahead of his two-time World Champion partner once in a grand prix.
The Canadian has lavished praise on his counterpart for operating at a consistently high level, conceding that even his best is often not a match for Alonso this year.
“I know that there’s been a lot of races where I felt like I maybe got the most out of the car, and he was a little bit quicker, and that’s just how it is,” he told Motorsport Magazine.
“There are other times where I really drove well and I was in front of him a couple of times. So, yeah, I’m proud of that.
“But for sure, he’s been at a very high level throughout the year, he’s made very few mistakes – no mistakes – and you have to give him credit for that, because he’s been driving at an extremely high level, and really getting the most out of the car every week.
“He’s just been at a really high level throughout the whole season and delivering that kind of A-plus kind of performance every week, when I’ve had a few kind of A’s, but I’ve had some Cs and it’s been a little bit more challenging. But a lot of racing left to go.”
The margin between Alonso and Stroll in the standings is the second largest between team-mates, only behind the Red Bull drivers.
Subsequently, criticism has been rife of his performances, with question marks arising over whether Stroll deserves his place amid Aston Martin’s renewed competitiveness.
However, the 24-year-old insists that he continues to block out any “noise on the outside”, contending that up and down periods are natural in the sport.
“But like I said, I’m kind of more just focused on my own stuff, I’m not really listening to too much of that noise on the outside, because it’s F1,” he continued.
“When you have a bad day, there’s always going to be a reason why, when you have a good day, it’s kind of just normal. I think that’s how a lot of F1 is, or my experience of it over the years.”
Since Alonso finished second in Canada in June Aston Martin has failed to record a single top-three finish, being out-developed by Mercedes, Ferrari and also McLaren.
But Stroll is hopeful that the Silverstone squad can regain its early competitiveness, rueing that his injury held him back when its AMR23 car was at its most competitive.
“Hopefully we get back to a stage where we’re that competitive,” he assessed. “I do believe we can do that.
“I mean, it definitely didn’t help to miss 250 laps of testing or whatever it was, and just be physically not at my best earlier on in the season.
“However, I think more than my injury we probably got hurt more by bad fortune on the track,” Stroll argued.