Williams not blaming Stroll for crash but team may not run tomorrow

2017 F1 season

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Williams defended its rookie driver Lance Stroll after a crash on Wednesday left the team’s participation in the final day of the test in doubt.

Stroll damaged his FW40 for the second time in as many days when he spun into a barrier on his 98th lap during today’s test.

The team is still investigating the extent of the damage from Stroll’s crash. Williams’ head of performance engineering Rob Smedley said “there’s a question mark” over whether they’ll run tomorrow “but obviously we’ll be doing our utmost to get out”.

Smedley said Stroll’s crash was related to a quirk of the new tyres which they had also observed with Felipe Massa on the first day of running.

“Both drivers have talked a lot about these tyres,” Smedley explained, “they’re good to lean on them, but there’s a certain point where they become very tricky.”

“Felipe lost the car on his first day because he kind of just stepped away from them having the amount of grip that these new tyres offer and then going into some area of the tyre where they’re no longer very happy. It’s just something they’re adapting to, Felipe found it quite tricky on day one. I’ve heard reports from other teams that drivers are pretty much reporting the same thing.”

“The feedback on today is Lance was out on cold medium tyres on an out lap, a lot of fuel in the car, and the tyre stepped away from him and he was an innocent victim of that happening. What should have been a fairly little, innocuous, sideways moment brought him around into the barrier and there was some damage. But that happens and we expect it to happen. There’s no blame on his part, obviously.”

Stroll shouldn’t feel he’s let the team down, Smedley stressed. “Otherwise we’re living in some terrible blame culture and we don’t want that.”

“I wouldn’t even call it a mistake that Lance made today, he was going for an up-shift, he was on cold tyres. Felipe once or twice on day one made almost exactly the same type of mistake and that’s a guy with 15 years’ experience.”

“It’s for us to try to understand how to re-balance the car, how to get the tyre working in tricky situations on those cold out-laps, to help the drivers in that situation.”

“Nobody stands back and says ‘that’s your bit and you’re to blame for that’, absolutely not, there’s not blame to apportion here at all. The main focus as usual is how did it happen, how do we stop it happening again and how do we contain the actions going forward.”

Williams used a private jet to bring a replacement front wing to the circuit in time for the start of testing today following Stroll’s smaller incident yesterday. Smedley praised the “super turnaround” by the team.

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Keith Collantine
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40 comments on “Williams not blaming Stroll for crash but team may not run tomorrow”

  1. Michael Brown
    1st March 2017, 19:24

    Pastor V2 ??

  2. If your not crashing race cars, your not driving on the edge….

    You will get thru this kid, chin up.
    The pastor Maldonado comments are un fair imho.

    1. Derek Edwards
      1st March 2017, 22:15

      Sure, but testing is about running to a predetermined programme, not about driving on the edge. If this were the first qualifying session of the season then I think we could turn a blind eye, but this is about running in components, checking they work, and getting in as many laps as possible so that the team is as prepared as it can be for the season ahead and that you, the rookie, have been in the car for gazillions of laps in the real world rather than the simulator.

      The Maldonado comments may be a little jumpy, but so far he does have three times as many offs as he next man. You’ll get through this, Williams, chin up. You’ve been there before.

      1. Leave the kid alone. You don’t have a clue. Rob Smedley isn’t blaming him so why are you?

        1. When you strap yourself in the race with the big boys, you will be criticised for making mistakes. Stroll has warranted the criticism by making numerous mistakes in such a short period of time.

          Williams and Smedley won’t “blame” him because if they rip into him, it will kill his confidence and it’d look bad if they’re criticising a driver they just hired, even if it were his mistakes.

        2. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
          2nd March 2017, 4:09

          Smedley has a vested interest in team PR and defending their new cash cow, what’s your excuse?

      2. Yeah but part of it is also learning the new tires, not just the car, especially as they are so new and different. They only connect the car to the track after all. They’ll roll with this and look ahead.

        1. That meant as a response to Derek.

      3. Derek Edwards : Testing is about “running to a predetermined programme” as you have said. However your follow up about “not about driving on the edge” is only true if you know how to drive an F1 car.
        Put yourself in his shoes and tell me what you would do. You have 4 days of driving to get used to an F1 car before you go racing. Do you A: Run to a predetermined programme. or B: Push hard and find the limits. Melbourne is only weeks away.

        However, 3 crashes in 2 days is never a good sign. But let’s also remember that Max got in 3 crashes at Monaco last year as well and it wasn’t his first time in a car. (He also crashed on his first day in an F1 car). Nobody says Max is Maldonado V2. Because he has had the time to prove otherwise. Stroll needs a chance to prove otherwise as well.

        I am not wanting to defend Stroll too much. He might actually turn out to be crap. But I don’t thing his crashes in testing prove anything one way or the other.

        1. During testing the driver does what he is told. If he is told to push then he will push. They will be telling him to drive to a specific time. The driver isn’t in control here. He never is at any time in F1. This is an engineering competition.

  3. I hate to think what this is going to do for Stroll’s confidence. He must be pretty rattled after the two incidents. Even if the team doesn’t blame him. Will he drive more cautiously (slowly) in the coming days? We will see. Either way it’s sad to see another hit for Williams. I was hoping they would do well this again year.

    1. Sounds like it hasn’t phased them one bit.

      1. I meant stroll will be phased. And a loss of time during running will hurt them.

        1. I know and I don’t think so. They won’t let him be phased even if he is tending that way, because they need him focused on progressing, and they are professionals. They need to all be working together as a team. They would have already talked about contingency plans if there were issues with the car, or incidents such as they’ve had. Loss of time, yes of course. I just doubt they went into testing assuming a 100% perfect set of days. This is racing. They know it. Disappointed sure, but they simply wouldn’t beat themselves up over something that was always a real possibility in testing and racing.

          1. He’s 18 and he’s human. He’ll be phased.

          2. @jeffreyj He’s 18 and has been working with race teams for years. He’ll get over it.

  4. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    1st March 2017, 19:57

    Losing the wet weather test will be pretty bad for Williams.We know how bad Williams was in the last previous 3 years in the wet,so gathering data would be essential.Especially by having a rookie and a guy that isn’t the best in then wet weather conditions.Felipe’s experience will be crucial,but on-track time will be even more important!

    1. Look on the bright side. At least Lance won’t get the chance to wreck another car. :)

      1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
        2nd March 2017, 7:43


  5. This whole article reads like some wonderful apologist propaganda.

  6. Not exactly the best start, he has already used the “it’s my first day in the job’ card.

    Hope things improve as it did not take someone long to setup “hasstrollcrashedyet.com”

      1. sooooo he might be able to use “the first day” twice! ^

  7. Hello ANON, not the greater stability we were expecting from these new tyres, eh?

    1. I’m sure everyone will figure the tires out. Such early days. When hasn’t F1 been an ever evolving thing?

  8. There is already a page set up to monitor Lance Stroll’s accidents.


    1. Wow! That’s quick (and harsch)

  9. Maldonado could be better value at this rate

  10. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    1st March 2017, 21:52

    It’s a thoroughly eloquent performance from Rob, but he’s an intelligent chap: he knows this is a bad year to be taking on a rookie, especially one that’s never even sat in a GP2 car. He also knows that the team would be in a much better position if Wehrlein, or Gasly, or Vergne, or even di Resta was sat where Lance is. But ‘economic factors’ have spoken…

    …I hope Lance can muster up a decent Father’s Day gift in exchange for the professional sporting career and copious winter testing regime his Dad bought for him…

  11. No point blaming the kid. He did 98 laps, move on

    1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      2nd March 2017, 4:12

      I’d like to see Williams move on if they miss the wet weather test. How has this kid got people defending him on here already? Are you Canadian?

      1. I often find myself asking the same thing, albeit “are you British,” with regard to Jolyon Palmer’s defenders. Stroll at least seems like a nice young guy (Canadians like us value that!) so I say we do give him a chance! Dude’s only 18.

  12. “Stroll shouldn’t feel he’s let the team down, Smedley stressed. “Otherwise we’re living in some terrible blame culture and we don’t want that.”

    Is it just me or do I actually hear cash talking.

  13. I would like to know of the people posting here, how many of you have actually raced single seater race cars (not driven a road car on a track day)?

    It is a singularly difficult thing to do, at any level – Villenueve found the limit by overdriving everywhere until he spun, Schumacher hit stuff frequently in his first F1 tests (see Martin Brundles twitter comment), and no-one’s moaning about Palmer sticking it in the gravel earlier today on an aero run.

    The fact that he got 98 laps in today means he has basic talent – give him time!

  14. We can learn from Smedley about not creating a blame culture. We all make mistakes.

  15. I love that we’d have a whole lot of fun this year with this, albeit at the expense of Williams.

  16. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    2nd March 2017, 8:28

    “The feedback on today is Lance was out on cold medium tyres on an out lap, a lot of fuel in the car, and the tyre stepped away from him and he was an innocent victim of that happening.”

    An OUT lap jeeze 😬. Poor innocent victim of a tyre stepping out, bless him.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      2nd March 2017, 8:31

      Maybe Williams and Stroll could sue Pirelli? Nobody should be innocently victimised by stepping out quirky tyres in a modern society! This has to stop!!!

  17. Well F1 newbie jumps 2 categories or even 3. From F3 to F1.2017… Quite a tall order… Mistakes are to be expected.

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