Teenager Stroll to race for Williams in 2017

2017 F1 season

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Lance Stroll will make his Formula One debut for Williams in 2017, the team has confirmed.

Lance Stroll biography
The Canadian racer, who won the European Formula Three championship this year, is 18 years old and will make his debut for the team at next year’s Australian Grand Prix

“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Stroll. “I really have to thank everyone who helped me get to this point. I’m really looking forward to hopefully a great season.”

“2017 is going to be a big learning curve for me,” he added, “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 Four and then Formula Three.”

Stroll said his two years in F3 have “prepared me well for the step up” and he has begun practising in a two-year-old Williams chassis.

“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.”

Current Willimas driver Valtteri Bottas will be Stroll’s team mate as Felipe Massa heads into retirement. Bottas will begin his fifth season racing for the team next year.

“Valtteri is a much-loved member of the team and his talent is unquestionable,” said deputy team principal Claire Williams, “so for him to use that experience to help lead the team forward is exciting.”

“He has played a pivotal role in the team’s turnaround since 2014 and we are looking forward to continuing the strong relationship we have with him into the future.”

Stroll won the 2014 Italian Formula Four championship and the 2015 Formula Toyota New Zealand series. He was previously a member of Ferrari’s driver academy before joining Williams at the end of last year. His father is Canadian fashion billionaire Lawrence Stroll.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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53 comments on “Teenager Stroll to race for Williams in 2017”

  1. We need to look beyond the millions for a second, I think.

    Stroll has shown a lot of maturity this year after a very erratic 2015, and absolutely dominated the F3 championship. The guy is clearly quick, that’s undeniable.

    Would he be my first choice? No. I think GP2 would be better for Stroll, especially with Pirelli tyres being a thing. I would have a more experienced driver in there personally. However at least Williams have hired from within their own development programme.

    I wonder how Alex Lynn will react to this.

    1. I agree that Stroll has certainly show that he is a quick and capable racer in F3 @craig-o. I also agree that for his development a year in GP2 would likely have been better.

    2. From the AMUS article:

      Stroll sr tried to buy the Sauber F1 team. Didn’t work out. He owns for example the Mont Tremblant track. Also has one of the biggest collection of Ferrari cars in the world

      Dad bought the entire Prema team (already the best team on the grid), the whole car development was intensified (wind-tunnel), the Merc-engines got special mappings. Plus: sources say there was a non-attack/overtaking pact to help the no. 1 driver, his son Lance

      $35 Million, is the price for the Williams seat. That’s only part of the investment.

      The Williams FW36 from 2014 is the test car. Powered by the first hybrid PU from Mercedes. Williams supplies a test-team of 20 people, Mercedes supplies 5 technicians. In Brixworth, two 2014 facilities were built for the private test program. Pirelli supplies so-called academy tires in the H/M/S compounds, they were specifically designed for the test with older cars.

      Testing at: Silverstone, Budapest, Red Bull-ring, Monza, Barcelona, Abu Dhabi, Austin, Sochi, Shanghai. Pat Symonds: the last driver to come into F1 with so many testing miles was Jacques Villeneuve.

      A new high-tech simulator was financed. This year, only Stroll was allowed to use it. The software was written for F3. Bottas and Massa did not use this new simulator, they had to use the old one. Currently, the simulator is being adapted for next year, for the Fw40.

      Total program so far: between $70 and $80 million.

      So, how can we look beyond the millions? ;)

      1. Interesting VA, one thing I think we can say for certain is with that kind of backing he’ll most likely be around in F1 for a long time.

        1. indeed Kie,

          I found another article


          Lawrence is the money behind my old pal Tommy Hilfiger and, more recently, Michael Kors and is a huge car guy and automotive collector. Chatting with one of the frontrunners in Austin he joked, “To be in F1 you used to have to have a millionaire father, but Jesus, now you have to be a billionaire.” With so much at stake Lawrence doesn’t want Lance to fail at the first hurdle in Melbourne, so has set up his own private Williams test team, complete with 2015 car, updated aero, tires and the like and is sending his private test team to all available F1 circuits for private testing so Lance can get real track time. I guess its fortunate we don’t race on the Moon yet – or it might get really expensive for Mr. Stroll… I remember that Jaques Villeneuve impressed us all by announcing back in 1996/97 that he was learning all the tracks on his F1 simulator – how quaint that now seems!

          I find this disgusting

          1. On the bright side, this reduces the chance that he will cause a lot of crashes.

        1. Just remember that money is no guarantee of anything. Just ask Toyota, who were spending half a billion a year, what that got them. As to ‘disgusting’ I find it harder to swallow Ferrari getting an extra 100 mill a year…. just because. And amongst many factors, that extra money Ferrari gets, helps drive up costs to compete for everyone. I guess what I’m getting at is that when F1 still can’t deal with it’s own money issues in spite of some small measures to cap costs, is it any surprise someone’s rich Dad needs to spend millions to help get his kid up to speed, pardon the pun?

  2. Well, we saw it coming and congrats I guess, but looking at his career, I’m not sure this is a good move. I don’t think he has the talent to jump from a relative low class to F1 and be succesful. He had a very bad first F3 year with lots of Maldonado-like crashes. That should be a sign for daddy Stroll that his son needs more experience in faster classes with stronger fields, you can not have a bad F1 year as a rookie. But I guess money talks.

    I hope he proves otherwise, but if not, he has his dad to blame for ruining his career.

  3. Can anybody give me a bit of background on this guy. From what I hear, he dominated F3 this year, and yet people still don’t regard him very highly – why is that? Isn’t F3 a spec series, so didn’t he beat everyone with identical machinery? (kind of like Vandoorne in GP2 last year?). Thanks.

    1. I’d start by saying that having money always helps, even in a spec series. You can test more, you can use more tyres, have better fuel quality etc… I can’t think of anything in life that isn’t helped by the having a little money behind you.

      Having said that, you clearly still need a heap of ability to win the European F3 series and Stroll has beaten the field by a very large margin… double the points of the guy in 4th. Granted, there aren’t any names in the series that are on my “watch list”.

      To get anywhere in motorsport at the minute you need either a bit of personal cash (family etc.) or backing from a big young driver program (Red Bull, Mercedes etc.).

      I think Stroll gets bad press because he is rich and young. Verstappen was exactly the same and that seems to be going pretty well (occasional controversial track behaviour aside!).

      Give him a chance before judging too severely.

      1. Cheers Ben, but what do mean by ‘you can use more tyres, have better fuel quality etc..’ In a spec series, aren’t all the parameters like fuel, tyre usage, chassis and engine power, mandated and the same for everyone?

        How does one team gain an advantage if they all have the same cars and opportunities? For example, in F1, Ferrari have infinitely more money than Manor, but they are limited to the same number of in season testing days, and so their extra money doesn’t gain any extra advantage in that area. Isn’t this the same in F3?

        Are there also caveats like the ones you have mentioned in GP2 as well then? So was Vandoorne’s season really that impressive if he had advantages others didn’t? Just using him as an example – I genuinely didn’t realise these things you mentioned in lower categories.

        I always thought a driver’s sponsorship money was just for getting your foot in the door, but once all cars are lined up in a spec series, the extra funding doesn’t mean anything as everyone is sitting in identical cars? Thanks.

      2. Verstappen was the same?? hahahaha Verstappen had no money, drove an average car in F3 van Amersfoort racing, who never won anything during that year or the years before….Verstappen did it on talent…so certainly not the same

        1. Stroll is in F1 because of his fathers money, not on merrit

          I think everyone can be honest about that

          There are a few drivers who are far more talented than Stroll. The F3 this year had no exceptional drivers plus the fact Stroll drove the best car from Prema…its not that hard to understand

          1. @VA I regard Williams as a team that has high integrity as always, and Stroll isn’t the only driver out there with money. I trust that Williams sees something much more in Stroll than money can buy, or they would have taken on someone with money AND more talent. You have decided he is there not on merit, and I just cannot see Williams agreeing with that sentiment or he simply wouldn’t be there. Money is useless if the driver is useless.

          2. I regard Williams as a team that has high integrity as always, and Stroll isn’t the only driver out there with money.

            Yes, I remember another one at Williams with backing… What was his name again? Mal… Maldo…

          3. Maldonado was quite fast actually @rinodina, he was just too erratic.

        2. @VA As to MV I think you are splitting hairs to say he had ‘no money’. I would bet that even if his Dad doesn’t have billion(s), there was still plenty of money and connections to put Max through wilth all the advantages one could hope for, and as with Stroll it comes down to those in F1 seeing some worthiness there, or they simply wouldn’t be there.

          Some like to pick on these advantaged youth but I’m curious to know how many rich kids worked their way up from karting thanks to family resources only to find they just didn’t cut it after a certain level. Bet that number is way higher than those that do make the cut.

          1. Agreed, but to invest at least 80 Million to get your son ready for F1 is a bit more than just a rich father.
            But we will see in 2017 if it’s just money or talent and money.

          2. @seth-space +1

            there are rich fathers (or sponsors) who can get you a seat through connections and a dozen million. and there are RICH fathers who can drop $80MM and counting to develop a customised development program, a ‘team within a team’…..not the same kind of “rich”. I’ve met the father, raced at his track, seen a good chunk of his car collection…he’s got mega cash and is likely living vicariously through his son a little bit.

    2. i think it’s partly because of his driving in 2015 season, where he got banned for a race iirc

    3. As with any series, being with a top team is a good thing, and Prema (the team Stroll has been with since his Italian F4 days) has won the F3 championship every year since 2012. Daniel Juncadella, Rafaelle Marciello, Esteban Ocon, Felix Rosenqvist and now Lance Stroll have won championships with the team which is now dominating in GP2 against the likes of ART, DAMS and Campos.

      That should take nothing away from Stroll though, he made massive improvements on an erratic 2015 campaign to absolutely blitz the field this year.

  4. Much as Stroll is probably talented enough to enter F1, he really isn’t at Williams right now, at 18, because they think he might be the next Senna.

    1. Never a truer word spoken.

      1. Well the ”Senna(s)” are rare and you don’t have to be a top 3 all-time WDC (and many argue the best ever) such as him, to win races and a WDC. It actually starts with the car almost always. Without that ask the countless drivers, including proven WDC winners currently on the grid, what happens when they don’t have the Constructor winning car. So Stroll could also ask of Williams, ‘When are you going to build me a race winning and Championship car?’ by the same logic. Stroll is not at Williams because they’re the next Mercedes. It’s an in…it’s a beginning…it’s an opportunity.

        1. Stroll is not at Williams because they’re the next Mercedes.

          Let’s not beat around the bush. Stroll is at Williams because of the money of his daddy. Same reason they signed Maldonado years ago. Lance is probably even a safer investment because daddy seems very willing to invest lots of money in his F1 career. Maybe Williams could even ask for more money if Lance proves to be a Maldonado v. 2.0.

  5. Stroll is unquestionably immensely talented and has quickly matured into a driver worthy of a drive on talent alone, but he does not have Verstappen’s uncanny immunity to developmental malaise. At times in 2015 the idea was floated that he should be banned from the championship following a consistent string of incidents caused by quite extraordinary spatial awareness issues. A season spent racing at the head of a less than stellar F3 field is not a reason to think those troubles are completely behind him.

    It is also not much of a reason to think he will competitive in the aerodynamic monsters F1 will field next year. He is a driver without much successful experience of wheel-to-wheel combat, he is a driver that has not raced a power sensitive car before, he is a driver that hasn’t any experience of the longitudinal and lateral loadings of an aero formula racing car. His learning curve is going to be almost horizontal; Williams should at least be pushing to get him as much FP1 and test mileage as feasibly possible. If he is within half a second of Bottas in Melbourne I will be very impressed.

    1. @william-brierty, That’s why he gets extensive time in the FW36. Also I believe you ment vertical.

    2. @william-brierty He may not have experience of a F1 car in a race situation, let alone one with the 2017 levels of grip (but then again, who does?) however he has done a lot of testing with a 2014(?) car, which is permitted. However that doesn’t mean he will necessarily be up to speed with say switching the Pirellis on, which is something which seemed to hinder Wehrlein at the start of the year.

    3. @me4me @craig-o First of all, facepalm on the horizontal thing, second, mileage in what is probably the slowest Williams car of modern times does not guarantee that he will be able to handle next year’s monster. We also don’t know specifically just how much mileage he has done. Yes, the FW36 is closer to next year’s car than a GP2 car, but GP2 teaches racecraft, the art of throttle control and tyre conservation, the later being something Stroll has had little need for previously.

      With the cars that F1 are fielding next year, I would at least want a driver with a good roster of experience of the fundamentals of power sensitive, aero formula racing. The physical challenges will be sufficient without introducing fundamental holes in a driver’s experience. The comparison with Vandoorne will be very apt; albeit Stoffel’s ability to adapt to any racing car near enough immediately (win on debut in FR3.5, win on debut in GP2, podium on debut in Super Formula and a point on debut in F1) says more about his talent than his experience.

  6. Putting my biases as a huge fan of Williams to the side for a moment, I do have my doubts about Stroll. He is obviously talented, you don’t win F3 without being talented. But you cannot argue that the fact that he had significant amounts of money behind him didn’t make the task a bit easier than it may have ordinarily been. Money means you can test more and hire better team members, get more new sets of tyres…it all adds up.

    I will reserve judgment for the moment, but I think it is going to be incredibly hard for him to shake off the “daddy bought me a seat in F1” tag. He has a tough task ahead of him, I wish him luck.

  7. Another flipping teenager?!? -_-

    1. What will fully comp insurance for an 18 year old cost on a Williams F1 car. His no claims is not great after 2015.

    2. Lol well it is going to be fascinating to see.

      So JV had a concern when Max was taken in by RBR that it set a bad precedent of making F1 look too easy, if a seventeen year old could be officially given an F1 ride. That sentiment shared obviously by key people in F1 caused the rule to change and you now have to be 18 with more on the resume than Max had.

      But now F1 is to be harder, theoretically, with the big changes for next year. So it is going to be very very interesting to see if indeed Stroll is ready for F1. It should be harder for him next year than it was for Max last year.

      1. This might seem harsh but, a part of me wants these young’uns to have a really hard time of it. It doesn’t help reaffirm the notion that F1 is the pinnacle of Motorsport when you see a spotty faced, barely old enough to purchase alcohol teen doing purple sectors.

        Also he’s too happy, always smiling. I guess the world hasn’t crushed his spirit yet. Any-who, I’m off to do my nine hour daily shifts so that I can pay taxes to a non-existent government.

        I’m not bitter at all btw… :)

    3. Vettel a teenager??

      1. No a flipping teenager

  8. Let’s remember, Verstappen came 3rd in F3 the season before coming into F1. Stroll is currently dominating it, he’s won the past 5 races and has been on the podium in the past 9. Yes, he has a lot of money, and I’m sure that helped the decision to get him to race in F1, but he also has a ton of talent. I do think a season in GP2 would’ve been better, but if Max can do it, why can’t he?

    1. Stroll and Verstappen had a very different time in F3. Verstappen came third, in his first season of F3, in his first year of car racing, winning 10 races for what was essentially a midfield team. Stroll was in the top team, in his second year after a very questionable first that almost got him banned. And thanks to dad had almost limitless testing possibilities. Yes, Stroll can drive, and it’s up to him to prove himself next year, but comparing his career to Verstappen’s doesn’t really work.

    2. …Hugh….how many times has this been explained? Why do you think Verstappen and not Ocon drew the interest from Mercedes, Ferrari and RbR at the time?

    3. And comparing Stroll with Max….is comparing Maldonado to Schumacher

      1. Let me guess… Is it that they’re both race winners and famous for crashing into other cars?

  9. Vettel’s worst nightmare – teenagers all around!!!
    Charlie, please buy earplugs!

  10. Well good luck to him. I hope he does well but I cant help but feel its too early for him. This game is ruthless. He’s been chucked into the deep end. I hope he can swim if he cant then he’ll be chewed up and spat out. Williams have made a big call

  11. Williams already have the Stroll thing won by 50% because of the money.
    If it turns out that Lance is a decent driver, that is another bonus. So good for Williams and Lance, good luck.

    1. This is an absolutely terrible indictment of the current state of F1.

  12. This was a done deal ages ago (or at least since he clinched the F3 crown and the licence points that went with it), however he only just turned 18 on Saturday 29th October.
    Clearly Martini (as Williams’ lead sponsor) did not want to (could not?) associate themselves with a 17 year old.

    Well, all good now!

    1. No, he couldn’t not apply for a super license with the current rules.

  13. I think one thing is clear above all: Williams did not sign Lance because of his mo^H^Htalent.

  14. let see what he can do without teamorders (in his F3 time he won easily by teamorders from his team owned by his dad)

    judge him after he had some races. we all had sarcastic thougts about Verstappen when he entered the F1.
    For sure Verstappen is WC material, time will tell if Stroll is a talent also

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