Stroll: To be racing in Formula 1 in 2017 is incredible
Lance Stroll – in the same vein as Max Verstappen – is a new breed of teenage drivers being fast-tracked into Formula 1 thanks to huge dollops of talent and, in the case of the 18 year old Canadian, substantial backing which has resulted in a deal for him to drive for Williams in 2017.
So much so that Stroll starts his Formula 1 rookie season, in 2017, better prepared than most drivers since the days of unlimited testing over a decade ago. He has racked up massive mileage in a Williams run test programme, using a 2014-spec Williams FW36, to prepare him for his debut season.
Stroll said of his big break, “To be racing in Formula One in 2017 is incredible, I can’t thank Williams enough for showing faith in my ability. Racing in F1 was something I dreamt about as a young kid. When I began karting seriously, F1 was then the ultimate goal and especially when I started racing cars in 2014.
“2017 is going to be a big learning curve for me, but I’m eager to absorb everything Williams can share with me so that I improve. I’ll be taking things on a race-by-race, lap-by-lap basis and hopefully progress with experience like I did when I entered Formula 4 and then Formula 3.
“I believe contesting the FIA European Formula 3 Championship for the past two years has prepared me well for the step up. There are many elements for me to learn and I’m still young.”
“I’ve been experiencing a 2014-spec Williams FW36 since August, which has gone very well. The power is incredible. I’m learning about the car, the incredible downforce, DRS and tyre management, finding a rhythm and finding the limit. I’m becoming more comfortable and confident with each run.”
“I’ve enjoyed success in karting, F4, Toyota Racing Series and most recently F3 – winning every category I’ve competed in – so I believe I have earned a shot in F1. I’m very thankful to everyone who has helped me to reach this level.”
Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, said during the announcement function, “Lance joined the Williams Young Driver Programme at the end of 2015 and has impressed our engineers with his maturity, talent and enthusiasm.”
“We are pleased to be able to offer him the opportunity to step up and show what he can do in Formula One, after proving a dominant force in all the categories he has raced in so far.”
The team statement added: “Since beginning his karting career in 2008, aged eight, Lance Stroll has gone on to secure the 2014 Italian Formula 4 Championship title and 2015 Toyota Racing Series title in New Zealand, with numerous wins to his name.”
“Lance has progressed through the Williams Young Driver Programme alongside clinching the 2016 European Formula 3 title in dominant style with 14 race wins and 17 front-row starts, 14 from pole position. At the age of just 18, he has already proved he is a talent to watch in the future.”
Bottas, as the senior driver in the team, is likely to mentor the young Canadian and said at the function,
“I’d like to extend a very warm welcome from myself to Lance on joining the team. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”