Cashing in and crashing out: Williams’ new signing Stroll splits opinion

2017 F1 season

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Has the news of Lance Stroll’s promotion to Williams for 2017 has left you concerned Formula One is becoming a sport for wealthy drivers only? You’re not alone.

“It’s a bit ridiculous that a sport should be the way F1 is, where you should have to put in so much money to get to the top,” said one young driver earlier this year. “I think it should be the opposite.”

Sensible words. That same up-and-coming rookie also had the foresight to switch high school programmes, taking on a more demanding curriculum in order to qualify for university. A useful back-up plan for someone who realised that, as he put it, “there’s more to life than racing”.

This up-and-coming rookie is, of course, Lance Stroll.

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It’s easy to say money shouldn’t matter when you’ve got plenty of it. But nor can anyone suggest Stroll is ignorant of the fact his rivals have had a more difficult time getting to the top.

Through his father (left) Stroll is well funded and connected
Stroll’s billionaire father aided his ascent through connections at the highest level at the sport. Lance was just 11 when he joined Ferrari’s young driver programme.

He soon moved from Canada to Europe to further his karting career. When the time came to move into single-seater racing cars Lawrence Stroll invested heavily in Prema and appointed top drivers for his son to learn from in Formula Four and Formula Three.

While Stroll has delivered the required titles the lavish spending which has gone into his career has not been to the benefit of these championships. European F3 is the most striking example.

From the heights of 2014 when Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Antonio Giovinazzi sparred for the title in a field of almost three dozen, the number of cars dwindled to less than half that this year as Stroll collected the title. Prema’s rivals saw no value in going up against the Stroll juggernaut.

Having switched to Williams’ junior driver programme at the end of last year his promotion to the team this season was widely expected. The speed of his promotion has prompted criticism: some of it is valid, some of it plainly rooted in envy.

Other racing drivers have come to Stroll’s defence. “What’s all this hate against Lance Stroll? Or should I say jealousy?” wrote Daniel Juncadella on social media earlier this year.

Stroll caused big crashes at Monza and again at Spa
“Do you guys seriously think he’s the only one out there who’s father can buy him an F1 seat? Don’t you guys think that maybe he’s the only capable of those?”

“If you don’t, you know nothing about him nor motorsport. Go on a grandstand and watch him, instead of reading all the sensationalist news and basing your opinions on that.”

It’s true that the biggest headlines Stroll had generated prior to today were due to his wealth and some highly questionable driving incidents. Eyes rolled when Ferrari announced in 2010 the son of Ferrari collector Lawrence Stroll had been signed as the youngest-ever member of their young driver programme at the age of 11.

Lance Stroll was in the spotlight for the wrong reasons again five years later when a pair of questionable moves in Formula Three races led to him being disqualified twice.

Stroll deserved the criticism he got for those incidents. But he also deserves praise for the way he came back after them.

“I got my expectations too high too quickly and those were the weekends that I was running at the front and I did make mistakes,” he admitted afterwards.

“They were big ones, for sure, they cost me a lot. They were completely my fault. But I learned from them. I’m a rookie, I’m 16 years old. I deserved the penalty. My mistake and I have to learn from it and I have to learn from it the hard way.”

And learn he did. He cut out the dodgy moves and was a much improved driver over the second half of 2015. A more mature Stroll returned in 2016 and the result has been a dominant championship victory. Stroll won 14 out of 30 races on his way to the European F3 crown.

Stroll beat a weakened F3 field in 2016
But doubts persist over just how convincing a performance that was. This year’s F3 field was far less strong than it had been two years ago when Esteban Ocon raced to the title ahead of Tom Blomqvist and Max Verstappen.

The huge sums Stroll’s billionaire father invested in his son’s campaign with Prema led many to believe his success was an inevitability, so they decided to race elsewhere. The field halved in size as six teams sat out 2016 and another, Carlin, dropped out temporarily mid-season. Accusations Stroll benefited from team orders in the season-opener and used special parts developed exclusively for him by Williams, leading to two disqualifications, fuelled the innuendo around him.

On the face of it, a year or two more in a junior championship would have made sense for Stroll. But the call has been made and he will be on the grid at Melbourne next year.

This is great news for his homeland. It’s 20 years since Canada’s last driver made his debut for Williams and ten since Jacques Villeneuve’s career ended ingloriously at BMW Sauber. The Canadian Grand Prix promoters, facing doubts over the future of their race, will also be encouraged by the move.

Lance Stroll biography
And, of course, it’s good news for Williams. This is a team which does not enjoy the huge pay-offs given to the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull. A driver who is both quick and financed – in the Sergio Perez mould – is a double blessing.

“You need to put in a certain amount like any sport – if you play tennis you need to buy a racket – but to pay to drive for a team, that’s wrong,” said Stroll. “It’s also the world we live in.”

Indeed it is. And so Lance Stroll, like any other F1 driver, deserves a chance to prove himself before we make up our minds about him.

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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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97 comments on “Cashing in and crashing out: Williams’ new signing Stroll splits opinion”

  1. While drivers buying seats is nothing new, racing in an F3 skeleton should raise questions about whether he’s ready to be racing with 23 other cars. Maybe it’s time that the FIA clearly stated that a driver must do a certain amount of time in GP2 before they can get a license to race in F1.

    1. @velocityboy Since the FIA made FR3.5/whatever its called a poor second-cousins for super-license points, many drivers have dropped off the F1 ladder because they can’t afford the GP2 ‘entrance fee’, which is believed to be at least a seven figure sum (and that’s for a back marker).

      Making GP2 a requirement sounds like a good way to make sure F1 is packed full of rich kids racing with daddies’ money.

    2. @velocityboy Wait didn’t Verstappen win an F1 race this year?

      I remember hearing something about it. That guy did GP2 as well right? Lance should do GP2 then. That’s the only way to get in F1. You know, racing against Sergio Canamasas, Philo Armand, Daniel de Jong, Nabil Jeffri, and other daddy’s boy Sean Gelael is much, much better.

      Come on, many professional sports have athletes competing in the 18-19 year old range and are considered “elite”. Don’t understand this constant knock on young drivers. Ask Mitch Evans, Raffeale Marciello, Alex Lynn, heck even Pierre Gasly, and Antonio Giovinazzi if they have F1 seats next year. I’m sure if they went back and had the chance to jump into F1 or go into GP2, what do you think they would pick?

      1. @sward28, you’re missing the point. The point is he was racing against a small field and as a result may not have the experience needed to enter F1. In his first F1 race he’ll be in a field of 24 cars doing a standing start and by racing against a small field he may not be prepared to deal with that. Is an F1 race really the best place to get that experience? By requiring drivers to race in GP2, the FIA can at least try to guarantee that a driver has experienced some of the things they will encounter in F1.

        1. @velocityboy F1 has 22 cars. GP2 has 22 cars. He raced in European Formula 3 where there were 20-24 cars on the grid this year and in 2015 had upwards of 35. So if that’s the case according to you he actually has MORE experience than some current F1 drivers in starting on big grids. Therefore, not sure your theory holds any water. Regardless of the number of cars on the grid you are always going to have cars around you. The number that’s on the grid is irrelevant in my opinion.

          In fact the more saturated the grid, you could argue the less talent that is actually in the field. Sure F3 was down this year from previous years, talent wise, but the guy still won half the races on the calendar.

          1. @velocityboy Also requiring drivers to race in GP2 in order to acquire a license to race in F1 is absolute lunacy. Just as the current FIA requirements for a super license are.

            Let’s say Haas were ridden from the shackles of Ferrari after next year and wanted to sign promising American Josef Newgarden from IndyCar for 2018 because he blows the doors off everyone with Team Penske in 2017. In your eyes, Newgarden, who has GP3 experience, would have to jump into GP2 and risk losing face due to a teams engineering/set-up direction (See DAMS/Alex Lynn).

            Even though he is IndyCar champion.

        2. That’s why they have the points system now. It’s more flexible to the many racing series that exist. GP2 isn’t the only place to get experience. Ricciardo didn’t do it, or Bottas. Verstappen didn’t either. Yet Maldonado did.

      2. @sward28 Max Verstappen never raced in GP2. He came straight from the FIA F3 series just as Stroll will.

        1. He was being sarcastic

      3. Sward…you really want to compare Stroll with Verstappen??

        1. Simply comparing for the fact that he came straight from F3 into F1 without a hitch. To make a point that not all drivers need GP2 or SHOULD go to GP2.

          Verstappen is without doubt an incredible talent. No real comparison for him.

          1. Actually a very valid comparison.

            All the things Verstappen has been criticized for could have been prevented if he had some more racing experience before entering F1.

        2. Why wouldn’t you want to compare Verstappen with Stroll? The similarities here are remarkable. The only real difference is that Verstappen has had some time in F1 to prove himself. Stroll may come in and do the same.

          Stroll has gotten to F1 fast because of dad’s money and his own talent. Verstappen got there fast by Dad’s connections, money (smaller amount than Stroll) and his own talent. The fact is that they must also have some talent to get as far as they have. I am not going to point the finger and say that they shouldn’t be in F1. Time will give us that answer. But they are both certainly rich and well connected boys that are able to jump the queue of other equally talented drivers.

          The queue jumping annoys the crap out of me. Verstappen and Stroll should have both been forced to do more time in the lower categories. But now they are here, they deserve the chance to prove themselves without our scorn. However, if they fail, let’s go to town on them for the rich boys they are.

          1. The only difference is that verstappen is one of the most gifted drivers and stroll only got in because of his dad

    3. http://www.theautoch…ges-galore.html
      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. You find excessive spending in F1 disgusting?

        Why do you even bother with the sport then, maybe NASCAR is more your appeal?

        1. Ignorant comment The Duke

          Lance his father spend in total 70/80 million on his son….yes disgusting…Nascar?..whahaha

    4. Some of the best guys have come out of F3, if you haven’t proved you are a worthy talent by that level your probably never going to be a great.
      Look at the guys who took 3 or 4 seasons to win GP2; Pantano, Valsecchi, Leimer, Palmer…. I think that says enough.
      All the GP2 champions we currently have in F1, bar Rosberg wont the F3 championship also(Hamilton, Grosjean, Hulkenburg)

      Unfortunately F1 isn’t the 22 best drivers in the world as it should be, there are plenty of guys at the top of other championships who are world class, but don’t have the money to get to F1 look at the fields in FE, LMP1, DTM.. for some ideas.
      To prove a point I would look to Spa 2014, LMP1 driver Andre Lotterer, rocked up at Spa, drove the F1 Caterham he had never driven before and outqualified full season driver Marcus Ericsson by 1 second!

      I will reserve my opinion on Stroll he won F3 that’s a +, he paid his way to F1 that’s a -. But there’s no rules saying you cant be rich and good.

  2. So, is Lance actually *paying* for his seat or not?

    Also, why are drivers looked down for accidentally winning championships that didn’t happen to have the same breadth of talent as other years? It’s hardly Stroll’s fault some of Prema’s rivals baulked – Also, isn’t F3 a spec series?

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      3rd November 2016, 12:42

      I dont think its looked down on but if you won a 100m race against Bernie Ecclestone, it wouldn’t be as impressive as if you won a 100m race against Usain Bolt…

      1. Tommy Scragend
        3rd November 2016, 15:33

        I’d pay to watch it though ;-)

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          3rd November 2016, 22:23

          Considering how long it would be, I wouldn’t.

          I would wait until BBC airs the highlights.

          1. Can’t be worse than some of the races we’ve had recently, @mbr-9 😂

    2. As far as I know, Lance is paying a lot of money for the seat.

      My objection is less to do with his skill level (compared to Verstappen and Kyvat on their respective entries, he’s practically overqualified), but because the money seems to have persuaded Williams to short-circuit Lance’s development. It would have been better if he had spent a year or two as the reserve driver, some of the sponsor money Williams is doubtlessly been receiving be put into some sort of non-F1 racing commitment for Lance (be that GP2, Renault 3.5, Super Formula or sports cars), and promote him into a race seat a year or two later. That way, Lance would have a better chance of reaching his clearly very high potential and rewarding Williams better for the effort put into him.

    3. @optimaximal It is a spec series, but as Keith says in this article, Stroll has pushed the boat out of gaining an advantage within that spec.

  3. Most of the people criticizing him probably have never seen him drive so they are judging him on articles on the internet. Yes his dad has money so did Senna’s family, do you think Joylon Palmer is in f1 on merit when his dad is a former driver who also has money not as much as Strolls dad but money nonetheless. About his competition it’s not his fault the other drivers werent faster or better. People were saying that about Mick Doohan when he was dominating motogp. That his competition wasn’t strong enough. People are probably jealous that he is a good driver who comes from a wealthy family. He isnt the first f1 driver to come from money and be a good driver and he won’t be the last

    1. Well, Palmer won the GP2 title in 2014 so he’s definitely got some talent.

      1. Palmer won after 4 years in the category and only had to be beat Nasr, not what I would call an achievement.

      2. Well, Stroll won the Formula 3 title in 2016 so he’s definitely got some talent.

    2. Using money to buy a seat is completely different than having money to back up a career. Every driver that dreams to reach F1 needs money.

    3. On the father side of things – it’s always been a tradition in F1 (even though Stroll dad’s not a racer):

      – Hans-Joachim Stuck, son of pre-war Grand Prix ace Hans
      – David Brabham, son of three-time world champion Sir Jack
      – Christian Fittipaldi, son of F1 veteran Wilson
      – Damon Hill, son of double world champion Graham
      – Michael Andretti, son of 1978 world champion Mario
      – Jacques Villeneuve, son of six-time Grand Prix winner Gilles
      – Nico Rosberg, son of 1982 world champion Keke
      – Kazuki Nakajima, son of former Lotus racer Satoru
      – Markus Winkelhock, son of F1 veteran Manfred
      – Nelson Piquet Jr, son of three-time world champion Nelson Sr
      – Kevin Magnussen, son of former McLaren driver Jan
      – Max Verstappen, son of former Benetton driver Jos
      – Carlos Sainz Jr, son of two-time WRC world champion Carlos Sr
      – Jolyon Palmer, son of former Williams driver Jonathan

      … to be continued

      1. Not to mention other family connections. There’s Bruno Senna, Nelson Piquet Jr, and Ralf Schumacher.

  4. Lance Stroll was in the spotlight for the wrong reasons again five years later when a pair of questionable moves in Formula Three races led to him being disqualified twice.

    Stroll deserved the criticism he got for those incidents. But he also deserves praise for the way he came back after them.

    This is what it comes down to, for me. This time last year, I would have found the idea of Stroll in Formula 1 to be almost offensive, after what I believed was a trait of recklessness in his driving that could not and should not be condoned.

    However, his performance on track this season is deserving of real praise and I cannot deny his abilities. Even if his financial background has been a factor in his rise to Formula 1, I can now feel comfortable saying that I will reserve judgement on Stroll’s suitability to be one of the elite 22 drivers on a Grand Prix grid until after I have seen him race. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you get into Formula 1 – what matters is what you do when you get there.

    That said, I will be holding him to the same standards that I try to hold all drivers in the sport to. If I see shades of his 2015 recklessness on the track, I will not hesitate to be severe in my criticism of him. But now he deserves a fair chance to make his case for being a F1 driver on the track.

    1. Well argues piece @keithcollantine; and well said @willwood, I’ll be giving him the benefit of doubt for now; especially as we saw so far with both Magnussen and Ocon, but also in comparing Nasr and Ericsson last year and this year, whether one can show up well in F1 depends at least partially on circumstance, the car you are in, and on unknown other factors; I still miss Kobayashi a bit, and few thought he was going to be more than a Toyota pay driver when he was put in the car.

    2. @willwood A fair thesis, well made.

      However, his performance on track this season is deserving of real praise and I cannot deny his abilities.

      …two points from me. One, it was not a field of the breadth of quality that F3 hosted in ’14 and ’15, and there are more than a few murmurs about team orders and special parts. Two, Nasr, Ericsson and Gutierrez are three drivers that share Formula Renault UK, British F3, Japanese F3, Formula BMW and GP3 titles, all flat-lined spectacularly in GP2. Just because a driver has impressed further down the ladder, doesn’t mean they will automatically excel when they step over the side of a power sensitive racing car. Throttle control has been the bugbear of Gutierrez’s entire career; what reason do we have to think Stroll will be any different?

      1. But look at Ericsson last race, or really for the last few races @william-brierty, do you think that in a better car he couldn’t have gotten at least a few points-scoring positions? So it took him a while maybe, but still, if he’s now able to do it, does he deserve that, or not?

        And if Stroll (thanks to his father providing him with the car to do that) has more experience in the car to help him get up to that level, and thus be competitive to Bottas at least half of the time, doing better/equal to what Massa with all his experience (and some age-related losses maybe?) did this year, and is showing racing on par with many around him – is he undeserving just because he was able to get that?

        Hamilton also did a winter of driving around the car before 2007, as did Vettel before he started that BMW/Sauber race, for example, but now they can’t anymore, so rookies are relatively less experienced in the car – his father bought him a real simulator+car experience to compensate. Without talent none of the above would be where they were, and we don’t know where it will bring Stroll.

        1. @bosyber – It is a demonstrable truth that Marcus Ericsson has not been the driver he was since he has been driving more power sensitive chassis. He took Formula Renault UK and All-Japan F3 titles in the competitive heyday of both series. His eye-catching potential earned him a F1 test as early as 2009, in the Brawn no less. However thereafter he distinctly lost career momentum. His four year GP2 career reached its high watermark in 2013, racing for the same team and with the same experience that took Palmer to the title a year later. In his rookie year in F1 he was routinely outpaced by whoever might line-up alongside him, whether it was Kobayashi, Lotterer or a random FP1 cameo from Roberto Merhi. The fact that two years later he is approaching a respectable level is no denial of the points and opportunities he has wasted in the interim, or that a more gifted driver would not have used that same developmental time to become an even better driver.

          The problem with Stroll is not that he is going to be another Ericsson, that he will “get there eventually”. No, the problem is we could marr a driver who could develop into an absolute star. In a developmental sense, it makes no sense to put Stroll under the scrutiny of the paddock whilst another driver could be doing a better job and whilst Stroll could be finessing his racecraft in GP2. He has phenomenal pace, but because of that he has little experience of the nuances of wheel-to-wheel combat, and personally I wouldn’t like to see a continuation of the kind moves we saw in 2015 in a 900bhp F1 car. More broadly, his only experience of F1 machinery will be an FW36 some 15% (approximately) off the pace of next year’s monster incapable of anything near the longitudinal or lateral loadings. Just because Verstappen can vault developmental canyons with ease, doesn’t mean anyone else can. I would be extremely surprised if Stroll could match Massa’s hypothetical levels of performance come Melbourne.

  5. RossoTorro (@)
    3rd November 2016, 12:50

    This last line was more than enough text for this article:

    “Like any other F1 driver, deserves a chance to prove himself before we make up our minds about him.”

    1. I Agree. It’s not like this is the 1st pay driver in F1. There have been some drivers who have achieved lesser than Stroll and yet raced in F1. I don’t expect him to set the world on fire, and he should get beaten by Bottas, but his money should really help Williams.

      There might be a handful of drivers that are more deserving of a seat in F1, but there aren’t a lot of standout talents from other series that are looking extremely promising to warrant a definite F1 drive.

      Let’s see what he does in 2017 before we can judge him. Honestly, I don’t think he’ll lack racing maturity as Maldonado did, nor will he be as slow as a Chandhok. So, I think he should at least start racing before we draw some conclusions on him.

    2. +1

      to many childish commenters who know nothing about Stroll

  6. Accusations Stroll benefited from team orders in the season-opener and used special parts developed exclusively for him by Williams, leading to two disqualifications, fuelled the innuendo around him.

    I think this says it all i saw him in Spa and Zandvoort race and He can race but it’s his father money who brought him into F1. I wonder how Stroll is going to coup with the much harder fysic requirements of the 2017 rules.
    Look at his neck and compair it with Alonso Riccardo and Max he really must train his neck otherwise he isn’t going to make it.

    1. Ok , seems i am wrong he did improved his fysic when i saw him last year and compared with his presentation right now he really improved that part.

    2. There’s a full winter. Rookies are usually very good at the physical side. What is lacking is the mental ability to, for example, race for 2 hours in the humid Singapore nights. That’s something you can’t prepare for. Stroll will be physically fit to drive the 2017 cars for sure.

  7. Speaking as a Canadian, I am not so sure that this signing is “great news” for Canada. The 2015 Monza and Spa incidents are still very clear in my memory, and the legitimacy of his F3 championship has rightly been called into question. I hope to be proved wrong about my opinion, but Williams decision to take on Stroll is only great news for future rich kids hoping to buy their way into the sport.

    1. I am afraid William could really use the money. I wonder when McClaren is going to have a paid driver.

      1. @macleod McLaren already has a paid driver. It is not entirely clear whether Santander pays Alonso, McLaren, or both, but they are a big sponsor who bring in more money than a “normal top-driver” salary, and their engagement is fully tied to Alonsos.

        1. @crammond There is a difference between having money to pay your seat, and being a top line talented driver to which companies want to be associated with.

        2. @crammond I believe Honda are actually bankrolling Fernando’s seat.

    2. I have not followed Stroll whatsoever, but I do know that as strong as F1 is for us here in Canada, the media certainly paid more attention to it when our last Canadian, JV, was on the grid, than they have since.

      As to the ‘rich kid’ phenomenon, that’s really nothing new is it? Even our beloved sport hockey which we are probably most famous for in terms of sport, is getting out of the hands of many parents to be able to afford for their kids, and that is a mere drop in the bucket compared to karting let alone more advanced racing.

      Yeah it’s an unavoidable advantage that those with money have, but I think one that simply exists and will never change. Stroll still has to go out there and prove himself. The other side of the coin for him is that he might have more pressure heaped on him for ‘having all the advantages’, but even the richest person in the world still has to have the qualifications to be hired by an F1 team.

      JV might have had the advantage of his name to start his racing career as a kid in Japan. The other side of the coin for him was that because of his name he was expected to win at all times, so he learned from an early age about pressure, dealing with media, expectations etc etc. He has ended up with the stuff on his resume that only two other drivers in the history of the world have, namely Andretti and Fittipaldi.

      1. I guess my point is that it used to be, if you were a rich kid, you also had to have a pedigree. ;)
        I hope Stroll proves me wrong, and that he does himself proud in the sport.
        I wish more kids stuck to the pond hockey. You can even flood a vacant lot in the city. I cannot fathom the sacrifices that children make their parent’s go through to feed their hockey time. Sorry to say, that applies to karting too. Yet, talent and passion win in the long run.
        By the way, how about that James Hinchcliff?

    3. Speaking as a fellow Canadian, I feel like any frustration or disappointment I end up feeling due to Stroll’s performance (or lack thereof) will be nothing in comparison to how bummed out I always felt during the latter part of Villeneuve’s career as it petered out. I only started following F1 in the early 2000’s, so knowing that he had once performed so greatly, but watching him bounce around at the back of the grid was always a bit heartbreaking.

      I had been pretty underwhelmed about the fact that Stroll was Canadian, but I must admit that the proper announcement of his signing has caused a spark of excitement for me.

      1. I started watching F1 as a child when Gilles won in Montreal, and his fame was wrapped up in a certain patriotic warmth. Needless to say, bummed out fully covers how I felt when his career, and life, ended.

  8. I dont think it matters. He won F3 and gained the required Superlicence points and Williams picked him….let the boy get on with it.

    Whether you like it or not, he has met the criteria to be in Formula one which suggests; under the new ”too tough” superlicence rules, that he has some talent.

    get on with it

  9. Keith, that is an astonishing headline. Brilliant.

  10. As an avid follower of junior categories, here lies my biggest bone of contention with Stroll. The team orders, the special parts, the Williams engineer. This is unprecedented in recent years. Yes, ART had the best cars in F3 and GP2 for a few years, some say due to some favouritism with organisers and producers. We all know the stories of special brakes for Hamilton in GP2 and special parts for Bianchi in F3. But nothing even comes close to the advantages Stroll has had. Not just privilege of wealth, but a clear and unassailable advantage that had little to do with talent. This made F3 this season seem like F3 of the 70s and 80s, where parts and car were the most important factor to success. In what, as people here use as a supporting argument for Stroll, is supposed to be a single make, single tyre championship, he has managed to have a car better than anyone else. Is that single make, single formula? Team orders, which his teammate Nick Cassidy has confirmed (more or less), are unheard of in lower classes. I’m not going to mention the driving issues that Stroll has, because he deserves a second chance to show that he has learned from his errors. But his incredible position in that field will always rankle with me, so I start at a position of disliking him and the way he has achieved this position.
    That, plus the fact I sincerely doubt he can handle 2017 F1 cars, or is even good enough to be at a top 5 team like Williams. Probably he would have found his way into F1 at some point, but he’s not even of the level of a Pascal Wehrlein, who is now being rumoured as being considered good enough for Force India. Stroll’s junior successes are no more impressive than Ericsson or Nasr or Gutierrez, and nobody on here would like to see them drive for Williams. People are giving him the benefit of the doubt, and good on them. Not me.

    1. * I mean Pascal Wehrlein is NOT considered good enough for Force India.

      1. It’s not that Wehrlein isn’t good enough for FIF1, it’s that they don’t want him – something about attitude problems when he tested for them or something (or at least Merc aren’t fronting enough money/engine price reduction to consider him).

    2. @hahostolze – Your case in point: Nasr, Ericsson and Gutierrez, three drivers that share Formula Renault UK, British F3, Japanese F3, Formula BMW and GP3 titles, all flat-lined spectacularly in GP2. Just because a driver has impressed further down the ladder, doesn’t mean they will automatically excel when they step over the side of a power sensitive racing car. Throttle control has been the bugbear of Gutierrez’s entire career; what reason do we have to think Stroll will be any different?

      1. @william-brierty Exactly. And actually, Nasr was 3rd, as was Gutierrez, so they weren’t even that bad in GP2. I just think that skipping GP2 or FR3.5 is only for the absolutely exceptional. Verstappen, maybe Ocon. Definitely not Stroll. And then there’s the other things I have issue with, but those are subjective.

        1. @hahostolze – Well, Nasr was outperformed by a rookie (Vandoorne) in 2014 (his third season), and only won his first race in GP2 on his fiftieth attempt, whilst Gutierrez really should have been a factor for the title against an underwhelming field in 2012, but spent much of the year being outperformed by rookie teammate Calado (who I would have liked to see get an F1 chance). But yes, just because Verstappen skipped GP2, it doesn’t mean it should become a developmental norm. If you ask any the great sages of driver development, Trevor Carlin, Gary Horner, Fred Vasseur or Frits van Amersfoort, none can explain Max in anything other than anomalous terms.

          On a slightly different note, I think F1 is suffering the demise of FR3.5. A series that was not a support act but in fact the headline event of the weekend, with consistent tyres that gave the drivers the space to acclimatize to the aerodynamic grip and torque delivery without additional variables was a precious resource. It is the series that gave us Kubica, Vettel and Ricciardo. I won’t reopen the super-license debate, but I will simply say that thanks to the FIA the future of the single seater structures across the world look about as bright as a Libyan tour operators’…

          1. Yeah, Max has been bad in the sense that loads of drivers think they are ready, when they’re not.

  11. I have absolutely nothing against Stroll. Given that he is an F3 champion and most likely would have gone on to succeed in other categories had his junior career continued, only the most anti-elitist pundit could reasonably claim that he is completely reliant on his father’s money for his promotion…albeit it perhaps hastened the decision.

    The only problem is Lance’s development cycle and the distinctive challenges he will face next season. Stroll 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 vertical; 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.

    A one year deal for Wehrlein and an extensive test programme dovetailing a GP2 campaign would have been better for Stroll and for Williams.

  12. I wonder if anyone has registered yet

    1. I did, but I am confused why I get getting naked pics of your Mum

  13. The suicide of F1 ! The sport for the spoiled kids of the rich this the freakshow we want to look at?
    Or do we prefer a serios sport with the 22 most talented drivers on earth…

    1. Well F1 – and motorsport in general – has always had it’s fair share of playboys. I think the difference now is that these aren’t playboys. They do it because their fathers have pushed them into it, rather than doing it in rebellion against taking over the family business, or just because they want to.

  14. I’m neutral on whether Stroll should have come into F1 this year, having not followed the junior formulae.

    However, now that he’s here, I’d opt to give Stroll the benefit of doubt for now.

    In the recent past, we’ve seen Maldonado who was crash-prone and never really improved; but we’ve also seen Grosjean who was as spatially-unaware in 2012, yet upped his game so much that he was competing with the Red Bulls in 2013.

    I’d also be eager to see how Stroll compares to Bottas. As we’ve seen with Ricciardo, a good teammate can make you up your game, and I don’t think Bottas has been significantly challenged or pushed forward by Massa.

    So yeah, I’d wait to see what Stroll brings to the table in the initial flyaway races.

  15. He’s Canadian and he’s young, so what the heck isn’t to like about this? He’s either going to flourish or flop. Would all the detractors prefer older drivers like Jenson Button and the generation to keep mopping up available seats or would they like to see new talent? I’m in the latter camp, thanks.

    1. That’s a classic straw man argument. Drivers of Jenson Button’s age and experience are not the only alternative to drivers of Lance Stroll’s background.

  16. Wasn’t impressed with him the first half of his season, but i have to admit that he did good the second half and considering the alternatives, i can’t blame williams for getting a capable driver and some money. I suspect he will be fighting fellow f1 rookie vandoorne a lot and with the midfield very close there is no time to get comfortable.

    1. And dont forget Ocon when he moves to FI

  17. So sad seeing this once great team having to reduce themselves to this level just to keep the lights on. I laugh just reading post from people pretending Stroll was signed for any other reason than his father’s money! I’m Canadian and while I’d love to see a Canadian on the grid, his signing is just as absurd as believing he’s better than all the current driver options Williams could have chosen (Ocon, Wehrlein, etc.) at the moment. Or that Ferrari signed him to their YDP at age 11 because he was such a phenomenal talent. Give me a break!

  18. I guess we’ll have to at least give the guy the benefit of the doubt and wait and see before making any judgement.

    Yet, I have significant doubts and it’s not even about the money. Once again a very young driver with very little experience or maturity enters the pinnacle of motorsport. Call me conservative, but a F1 rookie should at least have done some series like GP2, FR 3.5, Super Formula, Indy, … A proper series where they can learn the true profession and where they can learn from their mistakes and stupidities so that they don’t make them in a F1 race and where they really get to prove that they are worthy of driving a F1 car. Fast tracking them into F1 and throwing them into the thick of things is not a healthy evolution. It may have worked with Verstappen (to some extent at least), but his situation should not be taken as a reference. On top of that, Stroll gets a seat in a sub top team in a season with huge regulation changes. Stepping into a 2017 F1 car coming from a F3 car despite the privately funded testing is going to be an enormous challenge in itself. Hopefully no one gets hurt.

  19. I see a struggling Williams team in need of money. And there is Stroll with his dad.
    Just what they need.

  20. As a fellow Canadian whose been watching F1 religiously since 07, all I can say is I am super excited to see a fellow Canuck in F1. And from Montreal to boot. Talent,money,superior F3 equipment or not, let’s wait and see what he can do. He ll have a great engine and maybe Williams will give him a fast horse come Melbourne. All I know for sure is that once he comes out for FP1 in Montreal, it’s gonna get loud baby! :)

  21. @keithcollantine With Button and Massa out, and Stroll and Vandoorne in, we surely will have the youngest grid ever?

    1. @xtwl Vandoorne is 24 so he is young but in f1 years he isnt. But with Max Lance and Ocon all teenagers I think it would be one of the youngest grids

  22. I like this article. It can be read from top to bottom and vice versa and still would make perfect sense.

  23. One piece of information I wanted to look up before writing this, but didn’t have time, was the make-up of Stroll’s opposition in 2016.

    There were only 16 full-time drivers in European F3 this year. Out of the 15 drivers he beat to the title eight were rookies and only seven were, like him, drivers with at least one year’s experience. Two of those seven were team mates of his.

    I have to admit, that’s a less convincing performance than I thought it was before I looked it up.

    1. And then taking into account his material… He basically only won the title so he could put it on his CV and for the superlicence.

  24. I’m curious as to what our Canadian friend Jacques Villeneuve thinks about his young compatriots early ascent to F1. Going by the vitriolic comments he made about Max’s age and immaturity it can’t be very positive, or could it?

  25. Saying that he deserves a chance because he’s the best of the guys whose fathers can afford to buy them a seat is…. ridiculous. And I’m a Williams fan. Check that… after only a few months, when Claire Williams declared her pride that her team didn’t take on pay drivers, they go and sign Stroll. I WAS a Williams fan. I’m also Canadian, and am ashamed that he’ll be flying the Maple Leaf. I know that forums aren’t the best places to profess a moral high ground, but screw it. It’s about time we, as fans, started holding the sport to a higher ethical standard.

    1. But as I asked earlier, is Stroll (Snr) directly financially contributing to Williams? Yes, Canadian sponsors may follow, but I don’t see people complaining about the Brazilian and Finnish sponsors the car has run for the past 3 years.

      Until that happens, he can’t be called a pay driver. This isn’t another Pastor Maldonaldo or Kazuki Nakajima, who’s direct involvement with the team was purely down to a single sponsor logo on the car (ok, and the engine in the latter’s case).

      Of course, if the 2017 car rolls out plastered with Hilfiger and RL branding in place of Martini, I may change my tune.

      1. @optimaximal that’s naive. Lawrence will just pay them. Not via sponsors, but by giving them money.

    2. How about Marcus Ericssons money he brings to Sauber same with Nasr. Yes I agree that nobody should buy a seat. But everyone is going at Stroll like he is the first one to do so. And if any of us were in his position I’m pretty sure 99.9% of us would take the drive at Williams. And with many sons of former drivers how do we know that their former work in f1 and relationships with teams have influenced teams to sign their sons. Palmer in Renault is a good example. Heck Keke Rosberg drove for Williams and Nico drove for Williams. How much influence do you think Keke had for them to sign Nico and not someone else.

      1. @jamiejay995 what sponsors are Marcus actually contributing? MODO Eyewear and Silana. Those aren’t massive and probably don’t pay anything close to what Nasr’s Banco do Brasil sponsorship does.

  26. If the money of Stroll father help Williams to stay in formula 1, welcome Stroll son!
    Time will tell if he is a good driver or not. And I like not “pay” drivers, but…

  27. Racing is a wealthy person sport.. thisn is not complicated .. many other sports, no need to list them, are the same .. this isn’t 10 pin bowling or boxing … It’s 4 wheel racing and that requires substantial finacial support from a very young age at every level up the ladder… What’s the big deal?

  28. Ericsson did get quite far in his career on talent alone before he attracted any attention from personal backers. I.e. talent first, backers later, not the other way around.

    There is of course another difference regarding the money for example Ericsson backers brings to Sauber and Strolls backers might bring to Williams. Ericsson does not personally have any money, someone basically decided he was the best one to spend their money on. I don’t think Strolls dad will start to back someone else if it turns out that Lance is not god enough for F1. Ericssons backers on the other hand might basically switch to someone else anytime Their goal was to get a Swede in to F1 and so far they have succeeded but that does not mean they can not support someone else it they choose to do so.

    It has always been a big plus to be able to bring personal sponsors (or money) to a team, just ask Lauda :)

  29. We’ll see. As far as I’m concerned he’s welcome if Williams thinks he’s ready, who am I to judge otherwise.
    We know he has truly made an impact as a newcomer if he has a win, some more podiums, a few FIA awards, more racing-related media coverage than most of the grid and a rule named after him in a year or 2. That’s about the standards for a teenager entering F1 these days…

  30. The issue could be solved by having a ceiling for how much money a driver could bring.. if there is no money to gain the teams would go for pure talent – problem solved and the F1 fans would return…this wouldn’t work over a night so put the ceiling high this year and lower it 10% every year until you reach a fair fee…

    1. Impossible to police.

  31. Stroll might be the next Verstappen. He might be great.

    But I’d have more respect for Williams if they said something along the lines of “he’s the best overall combination in terms of talent, previous championships and bringing money to them” as opposed to “it’s definitely, definitely not about the money”.

    Come on.

    Most driver decisions at any but the very biggest teams always have some sort of financial element. It’s not necessarily about finding the paydriver with the biggest cheque but if you have talent A with no money and talent B who is almost as good as A but with lots of money to bring, who are they going to pick these days? I think most people can understand the rationale with that sort of thing.

  32. Good drivers with high budget are nothing new…

    But when it is family money… One thinks of nepotism.

    We will see in Australia what he is made of.

  33. .

    Has the news of Lance Stroll’s promotion to Williams for 2017 has left you concerned Formula One is becoming a sport for wealthy drivers only? You’re not alone

    It literally always has been. Just look at some of the legends of the Sport: Niki Lauda? Son of wealthy Austrian businessman. Ayrton Senna? Born into a rich family. Giuseppe Farina? Related to people within the car industry. John Surtees? Father owned a car dealership.

    The only ways to make it in car racing is either be rich, have someone rich support you or know the right people. Motorsport, including F1, simply is not made for the poor. This always has been the case, is the case and forever will be the case.

    Therefore, it begs the question why we have to do this “waaaah, F1 is dying because pay drivers” nonsense every bloody time a driver is hired because he has significant financial backing?

    1. But does it have to be like this..? Could there be a way to give more talented drivers a fair chance?
      Yes, by having a ceiling on the money part for new drivers – if the money was the same, who would you pick?…
      Its the same as having limits on motors, transmissions and so…this was possible..

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