Jacques Villeneuve, 2017

Villeneuve vs Stroll: Is the champion’s criticism tough but fair?

2017 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

“He is super quick, very talented and the few times I met him at the race track last year I was very impressed with his attitude.”

Jacques Villeneuve was more positive about Lance Stroll’s potential before the season began. But Villeneuve tends to shoot from the hip, and when asked about Stroll’s performance since then Villeneuve’s replies have been characteristically trenchant.

Is Villeneuve’s criticism personal or professional? His claims are strongly-worded, but do the facts back them up? Let’s take a look.

“One of the worst rookie performances”

Lance Stroll, Williams, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2017
Stroll took points at the track named after Villeneuve’s father
After a rough start to his F1 career, Stroll took a popular breakthrough points finish on home ground. Soon afterwards Villeneuve fired his first salvo:

The results speak for themselves. It is one of the worst rookie performances in the history of Formula One.

There’s obviously many ways this can be calculated. But in times of raw pace, qualifying performances are telling. And at this stage in the season Stroll’s weren’t good.

Over the first seven races he averaged nine-tenths of a second slower than Massa in like-for-like sessions. That translated to an average qualifying position of 15.1 to Massa’s 8.2.

Was that the worst rookie performance of all time? It wasn’t even the worst of this season. Jolyon Palmer was 1.1 seconds off Nico Hulkenberg’s pace over the same races.

However if we ignore Australia, where Palmer had a technical problem, that figure falls to 0.85s. And unlike Stroll, Palmer has not kept his seat.

By other measures Stroll’s start to life in F1 hadn’t been that bad. Granted he’d posted three retirements and stopped before the flag in Monaco. But two of these four stoppages were due to technical failures and only one was because of a collision he caused, in China.

And in the two races where he and Massa were running at the end Stroll was 11 seconds behind (Spain), and 18 (Russia), indicating his race pace was considerably better than his qualifying performance. Calling this the worst any rookie has ever done is a stretch.

“Everybody broke down”

Lance Stroll, Williams, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2017
Having fallen to last, Stroll finish ninth
Villeneuve put Stroll’s Canada result down to good fortune:

He wasn’t quick in Montreal, but everybody broke down, he kept his nose clean, he got points, and that took a weight off his shoulders.

At his home race Stroll went out in Q1, where he was seven-tenths of a second slower than his team mate, who reached Q3. Following his pit stop he was quick enough to pass the Saubers, Palmer, Romain Grosjean and Fernando Alonso. Undoubtedly having a Mercedes power unit helped against the likes of Honda and a year-old Ferrari on a track with long straights, but even so it’s not correct to insinuate he didn’t do any overtaking.

He was helped by some retirements, notably the first-lap crash which wiped out his team mate and Carlos Sainz Jnr, plus the stoppages of Max Verstappen and Daniil Kvyat.

While Stroll wouldn’t have reached the points without at least three of these four retirements, it’s not as if this was an unusually high number of drop-outs from a race. Villeneuve gave Stroll too little credit here.

“He’s the only driver who tests”

Stroll testing at Sepang

Following Stroll’s podium finish in Azerbaijan, Villeneuve said his family wealth was giving him an unfair advantage.

He did well, but also he’s the only driver who tests between races. That’s a little bit tough to swallow. Money has to have a limit, and that’s pushing it.

Williams have been secretive about the programme they have undertaken with Stroll to give him extra track time at Formula One venues around the world in a 2014-specification car. This is the kind of preparation which is only really available to drivers with billionaire fathers.

There’s no doubt that for a driver with as little F1 experience as Stroll, the opportunity to do more running in an F1 car is helpful. In the days before testing was restricted it was commonplace for new drivers to rack up tens of thousands of test kilometres before making their debuts. That was true for Lewis Hamilton ten years ago and it was true for Villeneuve another 11 years before that.

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

Of course not all venues can be tested at and Baku, the street circuit where Stroll took his best-yet result of third, is one he couldn’t visit.

Villeneuve may have a point but the fact Stroll is able to buy an advantage not available to others is surely F1’s fault, not his.

“He was about to get lapped by his team mate”

Lance Stroll, Williams, Interlagos, 2017
Stroll was so far behind Massa he was ahead of him
Villeneuve was scathing about Stroll’s most recent drive.

It wasn’t impressive. He was about to get lapped by his team mate. Then he blew a tyre so at least he has an excuse.

By lap 66 at Interlagos both Williams drivers had pitted once – Stroll enjoying the fastest complete stop of the race – and were running to the end. Stroll had gone one lap longer than Massa before switching to soft tyres.

The pair were separated by 1’06.8 seconds. Massa was lapping around the 1’14.4 range, about 1.1 seconds faster than Stroll. On paper he was 7.6s off lapping Stroll and poised to gain 5.5s over the remaining five laps. However when we factor in how early blue flags are shown and how eager Williams would have been to ensure their non-points-scoring car didn’t impeded the points-scoring car and it’s not hard to imagine how Stroll might have ended up getting lapped by his team mate.

To put that into perspective, the next-largest gap between any pair of team mates was the 15 seconds separating the Red Bull drivers, one of which had gone off on the first lap.

In mitigation, Stroll can point to the fact he was running a previous-specification version of his power unit and couldn’t use its high-power modes to assist in overtaking. Nonetheless Villeneuve had a point here.

“You can’t just look at the points”

With one race left Stroll has amassed 40 points and could end the season in front of Massa, who’s on 42. Has his season really been that bad? Villeneuve has an answer for that:

You can’t just look at the points, you have to look at the pace. We haven’t really seen an improvement.

Here’s the lap time difference in qualifying between Stroll and Massa at each race* this year.

*Massa did not qualify at the Hungaroring

There isn’t a great indication of progress here. If we consider Australia an outlier then we probably have to do the same for Italy, though nonetheless Stroll deserves credit for his excellent performance very wet conditions.

Felipe Massa, Lance Stroll, Williams, Sepang International Circuit, 2017
How close have the Williams drivers been?
He has tended to perform better at tracks he knows well. Monza from his Italian F4 and Formula Three days, Red Bull Ring likewise from F3 and Sepang from one of those tests. But in the last four races alone he’s usually been a second off, even around the short Interlagos track, though noting again he had that engine problem.

So in terms of qualifying pace Villeneuve again is not far wrong. But again his race performances are a different matter.

Before he arrived in F1 Stroll had a reputation for being crash-prone, particularly after two serious accidents. He has shrugged that off, completed more racing laps than Massa so far and reaching the top ten seven times. Since Russia he’s been classified in every race bar Suzuka, where a front-end failure put him out.

As Villeneuve indicates, Stroll’s points situation compared to Massa is flattered by Baku. On what was set to be the biggest pay-day of the season so far for Williams it was Massa who suffered a technical failure. That potentially cost him a win, very likely a podium finish ahead of Stroll. As it was Massa lost 15 points to his team mate, who he is now two points ahead of.

“Slower team mate” needed

Villeneuve’s recommendation for how Stroll could improve was perhaps predictable:

Have a slower team mate.

In terms of Stroll’s one-lap pace it’s not hard to see why Villeneuve says this. The only other driver on the grid who was as far behind his team mate as Stroll is was dropped three races ago.

Villeneuve has always been one of the most outspoken characters in Formula One, which is partly why his criticism of Stroll has such headline-friendly bite. But he seems quick to criticise and slow to praise the first Canadian to race in F1 since he did.

Over to you

Have Villeneuve’s criticisms of Stroll been ‘tough but fair’? Does the rookie deserve a second season at Williams or will he only get one because of the financial backing he brings?

And how well would Villeneuve’s post-championship career career stand up to this sort of scrutiny? Have your say in the comments.

2017 F1 season

Browse all 2017 F1 season articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2017 F1 season, Jacques Villeneuve, Lance Stroll articles

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 122 comments on “Villeneuve vs Stroll: Is the champion’s criticism tough but fair?”

    1. I don’t think Villeneuve is tough at all in his criticism. There’s a lot of properly tough criticism on Stroll, if we care to look for it.
      I agree with him though. I think he is fair. But not tough.

      1. I think it’s fair but sarcastic and that’s why quite a few people dislike it. He also has some BS talk record which makes him half credible. The praise and then the flaming of Stroll is one example. It was clear from the start that Stroll was very unprepared. Saying a thing then its exact contrary doesn’t him much good.

        1. I think it’s stupid and naive and I lose more respect for Jacques every time he opens his mouth.

          His criticism in Montreal is stupid. Yes, others broke down, but Stroll kept it going and brought it home. No one takes anything from Ricciardo for his win in Baku because of other people’s issues, or Verstappen’s win in Spain. Every driver has wins or podiums that came as a result of someone else’s misfortune. Its not a knock on the driver.

          And his criticism that he tests is even more stupid. He’s effectively criticizing Stroll for working hard. Isnt that what we want? A rookie who puts in the extra hours and tests, and works with his team and other drivers to get better. How is that a bad thing? Yes, his dad paid for it, but so what? He used whatever means he had at his disposal to get better. He didnt cheat, all of his tests were legal, and its not too different from Rosberg practicing his racecraft in a kart last year. The important thing is that he’s willing to put in the time to learn and get better. That’s the right kind of attitude for a rookie.

          And finally, the criticism that he’s only a driver because his dad is rich is so hypocritical. Karting and F1 are insanely expensive sports. If JV wasnt a Villeneuve and just a middle class Quebecoise, he wouldnt have been able to afford to go karting, and its questionable if he ever wouldve made it to F1, let alone a winning car. None of the drivers on the current grid are remotely middle class, let alone poor. Just because Stroll has more money than them isnt a criticism, its the pot calling the kettle black. His results so far cant be bought, he earned them on merit, and proves he deserves at least a shot in F1.

          I personally like Stroll. He’s not arrogant and seems to be quite humble. He makes mistakes and accepts blame for them. He works hard. He’s a Canadian Mark Webber, with money.

          1. Umar: Humble people don’t pay their mechanics to support them crowd surfing when they score one or two points..

            That was REALLY awkward and face palm worthy, and obvious as well… hope someone made an extra house payment off that farce…

          2. “And his criticism that he tests is even more stupid. He’s effectively criticizing Stroll for working hard. Isnt that what we want? A rookie who puts in the extra hours and tests, and works with his team and other drivers to get better. How is that a bad thing? Yes, his dad paid for it, but so what? He used whatever means he had at his disposal to get better. He didnt cheat, all of his tests were legal, and its not too different from Rosberg practicing his racecraft in a kart last year.”

            Paying hundreds of millions to practice driving modern f1 cars with active f1 team on f1 circuits is no different from rosberg practising in a kart? AHAHAAA! Wow! The amount of money stroll is putting into f1 is insane and despite it his results are poor. He has a team mate that is way past his peak and stroll still manages to be slower. Despite all the training he does in f1. The lack of speed is an indication of his lack of skill. Despite having so many huge benefits bought by his daddy for his play-a-racing-driver-career he can’t even match massa.

            It is like a height jump competition. Stroll brings a ladder his daddy bought him but still loses to his team mate who only brought his driving shoes. Stroll is nothing more than a product of money. His whole career he has enjoyed massive equipment adventage which has merely elevated him from average to above average. Without his daddy’s money he would not have won f3 or f4. And he definitely would not be in f1.

            Whether he works hard is a moot point. Almost everybody work hard. And almost everybody works harder because other people don’t have football stadium sized motorhomes in formula 4, private jets, personal engineering teams and private f1 tests just for them to drive around.

            I’m not a stroll hater but his racing career is bought. Not earned.

            1. You are right on the money. Alonso consistently outpaced Massa by what…half a second? That puts Stroll 1.5 secs behind Alonso, who is my personal all time favourite driver. Compare that to Vandoorne who is proving to be very respectable, he’s only 0.2 or 0.3 secs behind Alonso. And Vandoorne is pretty much a rookie too. I can see why McLaren are keeping him.

          3. Umar; … I owe you a favor, since you said what I was going to say, and you said it better. Thanks!

            I’ll only add that I don’t like seeing ex-drivers like Villeneuve trashing the performance of current drivers, unless the criticism involves unsafe driving. It’s petty and it hurts the sport.

          4. Full Moto Jacket
            17th November 2017, 23:22

            “None of the drivers on the current grid are remotely middle class, let alone poor.”

            BS. Do some research. Kimi’s father worked on a road construction crew. Hamilton’s father worked in IT. Vettel’s father a physiotherapist. Alonso’s father a millwright. Bottas’ father owns a cleaning company. Vandoorne’s father an architect. Hell, the best ever ( Schumacher’s) father a bricklayer. Hardly what you’d call wealthy. Shall I go on?

            It’s telling that Stroll’s father (the owner of the largest Ferrari dealer in Canada) got his kid into the Ferrari development program and they cut him loose. You can’t pay off Ferrari. Putting a state of the art simulator in the Williams complex in 2016 (which Massa and Bottas couldn’t use till ’17, as it was calibrated for F3 for Lance) goes a long way, though.

            1. I wouldn’t call those jobs middle class jobs though either. They pay far above middle class wages.

          5. Umar, I think you have your perception of “class distinctions” a bit upside down. I would consider 99% of the guys racing in F1 today would be “middle-class”. In America, money forms the class structure but in Europe, it’s family, where you went to school, lifestyle, where you live etc.. It’s all a load of BS really but try as we might, people just can’t lose their sense of “Class”. For example, I would consider myself “Working Class” because I identify with the worker’s struggle, but my family throw fits if I say that so I’m stuck with a middle class moniker.

    2. I think his criticisms have been tough but fair except perhaps for the ‘one of the worst rookie performances in F1’ comment. However, another thing JV said was that it was the Stroll’s themselves, Lance and his Dad, who said the results will speak for themselves, so JV was only playing off what they themselves pointed at to look at.

      Does LS deserve another season? Of course he does and he’s under contract for two more I believe. JV isn’t suggesting otherwise.

      And as to the last ‘Over to you’ question how well would JV’s post-Championship career stand up to this sort of scrutiny? Well, let’s see Stroll win a Championship in his second season in F1 first of all. Then let’s see him risk his career forming a brand new team in F1, in order to make that comparison fair. Shouldn’t the comparison be rookie season to rookie season?

      I think Stroll has had a huge learning curve in a car that is obviously not stellar. We need the next two seasons to see if more improvement comes, but to be mindful that drivers are coloured by their cars too. There may only be so much he can do.

      1. Is the car truly “obviously not stellar”? It’s not too far from the Force India and yet Ocon has made a stunning impression in his first full year. I think it’s unfair to apportion much blame to the Williams car for Stroll’s poor performance. Sure, it’s been Williams worst season for a few years, but not many would disagree that on average it is at least the fifth best on the grid this year.

        He’s young and had a big step up, so I’m perfectly willing to give him another season before I judge too harshly, but I agree with Villeneuve in that it has been a very poor first year. Stroll’s reputation has suffered from his money in more ways than one; he certainly should’ve had another season in the lower categories. I’ll repeat David Coulthard’s words again from a few years back: “Formula One is not a finishing school.”

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          17th November 2017, 17:31

          @ben-n You don’t go for a stroll in Formula One

        2. From the few standout drives we saw, I suspect that the car isn’t even that bad. But the drivers are not getting the best out of it most of the time @ben-n.

    3. In Russia the gap is smaller because Massa had a puncture and stopped for an extra pitstop. Before his puncture on lap 40 Stroll was 31 seconds behind Massa.

      In Spain Massa had a bad first lap and ended up 56 seconds behind Stroll on lap 2 due to an extra pitstop. As the article says Massa was 11 seconds ahead of Stroll by the end. Very bad example to support an argument that his pace was decent if you ask me. Average it out for number of laps the numbers are not pretty.

      1. Massa has been faster than Stroll in almost every session this year, which is maybe not surprising given the difference in experience. The fact that Massa and Stroll are so close in the championship is very much down to luck it seems.

        1. Massa had punctures in Russia and Mexico. He got taken out in Canada. He retired from a winning position in Baku. Seeing how close Stroll was to Ricciardo at the finish it’s fair to assume Massa would have won it. In Canada, Baku and Mexico Stroll got more points as a result. There was Singapore where Massa was left out on a bizarre strategy and Malaysia where the team swapped them around though Massa was faster. In that race Massa got hit on the first lap. Massa was dominating Stroll more than Alonso dominated Massa. That’s saying a lot. Some how Massa is the one who’s being retired again..

          I have not seen any improvement in Stroll this season. He had the odd good day when he was still slower than Massa. That’s not at all promising. Any other driver bringing less cash would be out of a job after a performance like this. Palmer lost his seat because of that. 5 races into the season Mclaren were questioning Vandoorne despite his lack of mileage at that stage in the season. I really hope Stroll improves. It’s hard to see Williams perform poorly. In the hands of stronger drivers they would be fighting with Force India this season. If Kubica is not at least as good as Massa they are in for a shocker next season

    4. can I be honest? I’ve always loved Villeneuve quotes…

      yeah, he exaggerates a bit for rhetoric, but I feel he’s never usually too far from the truth and also tends to speak his mind much more often than other drivers (both former and current). when he says Stroll was the ‘WORST. ROOKIE. EVER.’, I read that just like a teenager saying: ‘YOU’RE THE WORST, DAAAD’… that being said, Stroll rookie season was bad; not career-ending bad, but bad nevertheless.

      also, I have a feeling he doesn’t love Stroll Sr. that much…

    5. Criticism is tough and true. I would not say fair exactly.

      I’m not going to defend his performances but money has clouded people’s judgement. Priveledge is an easy method to rub people the wrong way.
      Stroll’s reputation as ”kid of rich dad” didn’t do him any favors. Pay drivers get criticism a lot earlier than others. Vandoorne’s Spain blind turn in was an incredibly stupid incident from a GP2 champ and yet the response wasn’t exactly hostile compared to the minor errors Stroll was making.

      It would be a bigger problem for him next season if his gap between Kubica or Di Resta is the same as it is to Massa.
      Except for Di Resta’s Hungary weekend, they have zero experience with the hybrid tech in which Stroll has thousands of miles in.

    6. whilst daddies money keeps rolling in he will have a seat

      Maldnardo anyone?

      Williams cant survive without it

      hopefully paddy can get them back up the grid and williams wont need the money

      1. How could you not use ‘strolling in’ in that sentence!

        1. l feel sorry for Lance who is caught between a rock and a hard place and out of his depth…after being put on a huge pedestal…His dad also tried to buy Lance’s sister a pop star career….how much longer can Williams last in this sport with these business models.

    7. I stand by what I said a few times before the start of the season and once or twice after… he got shoved into F1 too soon, wasn’t in any way ready for it and might spend the rest of his career paying for that.

      It wasn’t even a ‘maybe’ question… there was absolutely no indication in his junior career that Stroll was one of the ‘special talents’ capable of cutting it in F1 at the age of 18. Winning the F3 title in your second season, in a team your dad basically bought for you, is commendable and impressive… but it’s isn’t a monumental, ‘Go straight to F1, pass F2, collect £200’ achievement.

      Whether it was him pushing for it, or his dad wanting it to happen this year, it was the wrong move and he needed at least one season of ‘F1-style’ racing in F2 before moving up to this level. His growth as a driver has been screwed and now he just needs to hope that his talent (which he does have) catches up with his body at some point in the near future.

      Sadly for him, being pushed too soon might have messed up his development so much that he’ll never achieve what he might have had he (or his dad) been sensible and waited until he was ready.

      1. Your first sentence paragraph is accurate up to the point where he will spend the rest of his career paying for it. Ironically, his father will be paying for it. But Stroll will be in F1 for as long as he wants.

        1. That comment got me thinking… lots of rich kids get a pile of cash when they turn 21 or 25 or whatever, so I suppose there’s a reasonable chance Stroll will too.

          So maybe when he has more money of his own, he’ll have to pay for his own seat if he still wants it.

          1. The Stroll family will eventually just buy Williams and then Lance can become the next Bernie! 😂

      2. Absolutely agree with every word.

    8. In the says before testing was restricted it was commonplace for new drivers to rack up tens of thousands of test kilometres before making their debuts. That was true for Lewis Hamilton ten years ago

      I wish spreading this myth about Lewis getting millions of kilometres of experience before making his debut appearance in Australia would stop. That’s blatantly not true. From what I could find, LH had less than 10k kilometres of mileage (so where these stories about tens of thousands are coming from?), less than someone like Kubica, not to mention Kovalainen, who I believe had well over 30 thousand kms of experience at the start of his career. Hell, even Hulkenberg, who made his debut in very limited testing era, had more testing mileage, so why Hamilton is mentioned in this context time and time again?

      1. Well it isn’t only LH that is mentioned. JV is mentioned too. I think the point is that in the past all drivers had way more testing mileage ahead of their debuts whereas LS has been getting extra mileage compared to others due to family resources. Not that I care very much, for it has been in 2014 cars so has more to do with just familiarizing himself with tracks he’s never been on. Would be entirely different if money was somehow buying him testing with his actual car, that others in the grid did not have access to. But that is simply not allowed for good reason.

      2. It always amazes me when the com0letely innacurate quote comes up – I mean it’s not as though he had nothing to do that year other than win his first season in F2 (now) but there we are.

        Nor is it even realistic – today’s rookie has tens of thousands of miles on supremely competent and realistic simulators. Hell h3 can even race in a full rig in his front room!

        Bu5 you know, that must be why he beat the two time champion – the one actually racing day in and out in the actual series…

      3. Armchair, you haven’t looked very hard. Hamilton was one of the final drivers to benefit from unlimited preseason testing, and numerous publications at the time documented the official tests. Rookies after were limited, and I have not a clue why you think Hulk had more testing than Lewis. This era also had many clandestine tests, that received no official coverage. Lewis benefited immensely from all the testing, but he always had the innate talent, & would have figured it all out soon enough anyway. One interesting take from it though, is the pace differential between Alonso & Hamilton on the Michelin tires, prior to switching to Bridgestones. A limited amount of data to go from, but Alonso was much quicker on the tires he helped develop.

    9. Williams have to get a great car, courtesy Paddy Lowe and the money will come by itself. That would mean one more Stroll year and we can see some good drivers, like Kubica, Kvyat, take your pick, doing well in the Williams.

    10. How much “extra testing” has Lance done over the year? Depending on the extent of the program, I’m not sure we can call him a rookie.

      I’m not one to knock a wealthy person down but in this case, Lance has bought himself a 2nd season at Williams. Every other rookie has shown improvement – even Palmer started getting better towards the end and he’s gone. Vandoorne has shown improvement.

      Is it ok for any driver to be qualifying 1 second slower than a driver who’s considered by the team too slow to remain in F1? This is the main issue here along with the fact that the only reason they are keeping Lance is for the money.

      No one would want to see the son of Real Madrid’s owner play alongside Ronaldo and staying 20 meters behind him because the family wants him to play there. Sure, the kid may have been great in the youth divisions…

      Nico Hulkenberg got a pole in 2010 and ended up a test driver in 2011. Shouldn’t Lance be a test driver next year or going back to the lower categories like other drivers before coming back to F1?

      A lot of people are paying good money to watch F1 and the Strolls are deciding the line up for one of the midfield teams – if you’re paying $500 to watch, shouldn’t the Strolls be covering $50-$100 of the F1 fees for the viewers (Canadians excluded)? Understandably, we don’t love their son as much as the Stroll family does.

    11. Stroll is a very odd case really. There have been times this year when he’s seemed on Massa’s level, only to fall back to his favourite “one second slower” act at the next race.

      Clearly he’s not been “the worst rookie in history”, but it’s not been a good season by any stretch of the imagination. While acknowledging his achievements, Massa was never a first rate driver in his prime, so to often be a second behind an aging version of that is pretty embarrassing. His podium in Baku was well deserved as one of the few drivers to keep a clean nose all weekend, but that’s been his only highlight.

      Unfortunately though, in the current climate, pay drivers are sometimes a necessary evil for teams like Williams and in hindsight, they’ve made the right choice. Say we’d seen a Massa-Di Resta line up this year instead. It’s fair to say that the team may have had more points, but certainly not enough to challenge Force India for 4th. Any way you butter the bread, it was 5th place for Williams this year. I’m sure they’re pleased it’s a distant 5th plus cash rather than a close 5th with no cash.

      1. At 20th lap Massa was 3th and Stroll 7th. And people still say that his podium wasn’t lucky…

        1. It was lucky in the sense that it relied on the misfortune and errors of others, but Stroll’s car held together and he didn’t make any mistakes. What more is he supposed to do? I think Stroll himself would probably agree that if Massa had a reliable car that he would’ve beaten him to the podium (and maybe a win), but I can’t criticise him for having a clean drive when so many others (Vettel, Hulkenberg, Ocon, Perez to name a few) were their own worst enemies.

          That’s in the context of Baku alone… I can certainly criticise him for most of his other performances this year!

      2. Are you sure that having two better drivers wouldn’t have made the Williams a contender for fourth?

        1. I would hazard a guess that by putting some combination of Hamilton/Vettel/Alonso/Verstappen/Ricciardo in the two cars then Williams perhaps would have been, but two “Massa level” drivers (with no disrespect meant) would have always been 5th at best. Force India are near enough 100 points ahead.

          1. Yes, agree, massa was good this season and lost like 50 points on reliability, but he wasn’t, and never was, alonso level, who is similar to hamilton and vettel, and although still unproven when fighting for championships, verstappen and ricciardo can be around the same level too, verstappen is something like schumacher to me and ricciardo like hakkinen.

    12. I’d say Massa was always going to be quicker on his home track, where he won 2 of his 11 victories and generally drives well. And it is more or less true for all the old tracks; even if Stroll has tested there Massa has way more experience on those tracks.
      That difference in experience remains the same throughout the season.
      Lance may get to know the car better, but not every other track.

      Baku was only the second time round. Nowhere else was the difference in track experience as small between the two.
      Stroll was as quick as Massa on it; not just during qualifying but all weekend.

      Like it or not, he will drive next year, we may as well just watch what happens.
      If we see an improvement it was indeed his newness to these tracks that hampered him.
      I’ll reserve my judgment about Stroll until well in that second season.

      1. Like I said above about Baku’s race, at 20th lap Massa was 3th and Stroll 7th. And people still say that his podium wasn’t lucky and he had the same pace as Massa…

        1. At the 20th lap there was less than 1.3 seconds in between the two… one lap earlier the gap was less than a second.
          At no point was it more than 4 seconds.
          So BS, and if you said it before that just means serial BS.

          1. By the way, around that time the race was red-flagged. Massa was in 3rd position and Stroll in 4th. Magnussen was 7th and that order remained like that until Massa hit trouble around lap 23.

    13. “Slower team mate” needed

      So he got better on venue he had raced before.
      But what if Stroll had a good season next year? He could be branded as ‘the one who beat a cripple driver’ or maybe ‘the one who beat RedBull reject’ …

      1. @ruliemaulana Let’s be honest there is a very small chance that Stroll can beat Robert Kubica or Daniil Kvyat over a full season. Even Paul Di Resta can significantly outperform him.

        1. Maybe. But I think he could handle Di Resta..

      2. I can’t see Williams ditching Felipe Massa (think we can be sure that he was pushed before he jumped) without knowing that they have a better alternative available.

        I’d be very surprised to see Stroll beat whoever his team-mate is next year without a vast, vast improvement.

        1. Kubica is bringing a lot of money. It’s a safe bet not because he can perform good, it’s because even if he ends up slower than Massa they still had the money. And if by a miracle he is faster, they will have both points and money. That’s all. But for sure they’re counting that Stroll can be better next season.

          1. I understand that Kubica would bring more exposure perhaps, but I hadn’t appreciated that he would be “bringing a lot of money” with him. Could you provide a source for that? I wasn’t aware they’d even confirmed his signing…

            1. @ben-n EUR 8 million in sponsorship associated with Kubica, and collected in part by co-manager Nico Rosberg [link]

            2. 8 mil EU not really big money in F1

        2. It’s actually IMO a risky choice by williams to ditch massa who was still doing well.

          My opinion is di resta can barely beat stroll, kvyat unless he recovers mentally can’t even beat stroll, kubica like first stint can beat massa and not by far, if he got even a little worse massa would still be slightly faster than him, so performance wise giving up massa has more chance to worsen the driver situation, however kubica really deserves a year to prove himself after all the effort to get back.

    14. It’s a bit of both. His criticism is very biting and, as shown above, is a bit OTT at times, but we can’t get away from the fact that Stroll probably isn’t quite up to F1 standards yet.

      The simple fact is this: Massa got bossed in qualifying by Bottas in 2016, Massa is bossing Stroll in qualifying in 2017 and Bottas is off the pace of Hamilton in qualifying. So if you are off the pace of a man who was off the pace of a man who is off the pace, you definitely have to improve!

      1. you have to pump that pace up, that is rookies’ pace

      2. Bottas is one of the best qualifiers on the grid, he’s just losing for the 2nd best qualifier of all time. If you look at Massa/Bottas race pace they have the same level. And we can say that Massa is a bit faster this season just by the way he drove in Baku and Brazil. All this said, a gap of more than 0.5s shows a very long road of improvement for him, and even with all his money I don’t think Williams will wait years for him.

        1. Bottas is one of the best qualifiers on the grid,

          compared to his ex-teammates that is. Not really one of the best by those standards..

    15. He got there too early. Of course the money was needed and that is the only thing that won him the seat. Unless you consider Massa on top F1 level, he badly underperformed. While I believe Felipe has done a pretty good season, the gap is still inexcusable. Two headline results won’t change that. The key is the consistency.

    16. In a world where Ericsson, Palmer, Gutierrez, Sutil, Kvyat and so on had more than one chance it is only fair to wait for Stroll’s second year to make conclusions.

      His qualifying pace isn’t as good as Massa most likely due to experience, make those tyres work over just one lap, with different strategies to warm them up from race to race is something that must be difficult for a rookie

      1. @johnmilk If you think of Pascal Wehrlein as decent then Marcus Ericsson is a good driver as well. And Daniil Kvyat with his mojo is very quick as well. Esteban Gutierrez was noticeably faster than Grosjean by the end of 2016 and Jolyon Palmer was certainly better than earlier this season. Adrian Sutil is the definition of mediocrity.

        1. @godoff1 I was expecting Wherlein to be better, since he wasn’t he might not be at the level I previously thought. Regardless Ericsson was still beaten by him, and have in mind that for Wherlein there is the extra hurdle of racing against the team’s CEO.

          The case that you are making for the rest of the bunch, don’t bother they are all where they deserve to be now

          1. Palmer, Sutil and Gutierrez weren’t F1 material but Kvyat is there. He’s just mentally fragile but a Williams seat would do him a world of good. He would get to show Marko his speed in a high level car, keeping in mind Paddy Lowe’s inputs. He’d also have Lance Stroll to smash as well.

    17. When (not if) we witness Lando Norris breeze past stroll in grand prix, for the first time, the debate will be over …

      … Stroll has will, but Norris has skill.

      Enjoy IndyCar Lance, daddy can buy a whole team there just for you.

    18. Villeneuve’s attacks have been more than fair. Your defence, Keith, has been overly kind. I don’t remember you being this kind to bad F1 drivers in the past. Maybe you’re giving him a pass because of his age and inexperience, and fair dos. But outside of that he does not deserve defending.

      1. @hahostolze, I fully agree. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

        One has to wonder, how bad must a rookie’s first year be for it to be morally OK to leave him without a seat for the following year? In Stroll’s case, he benefited from both private testing, a team-mate with a mentoring attitute and past his prime, the best costumer PU on the grid, solid reliability (unlike Palmer (*who actually isnt a rookie) and Vandoorne).

        If a driver is not good enough, he/she is not good enough. People should get over it. There are multiple highly talented drivers who do not even get a chance to prove themselves in F1.

      2. i seem to remember some Villeneuve attacks on Verstappen.. not very realistic even at the time.

    19. Monza, Singapore, Malaysia and Mexico. Four races where Stroll was right on par with Massa on race pace, if not better. He was clearly better in Malaysia, but it’s a bit hard to claim for the other three races because Massa suffered from bad luck, even though Stroll finished ahead of him (But they were almost evenly matched on race pace every time both were able to set clean laps). Not to mention, Stroll’s qualifying performance in Monza was sublime.

      All four of these races took place in the second half of the season, which means that Stroll has been at least as good as Massa in four out of the past eight races. In the first half of the season, I don’t remember a single race where he could match Massa’s pace, although he came close in Baku and Austria.

      So, is it fair to say that Lance has made a solid improvement in the second half? I think he has, and I also think he has more to give. The only frequent source of disappointment has been his qualifying performances, where he’s slow more often than not.

      It’s easy to judge him on his qualy performances alone, but I believe that if a driver was frequently 1 second slower than his teammate in qualifying on genuine pace and talent, it would show in race-pace more often than it actually has in Stroll’s case. I also believe that people have been way too harsh on Massa this year…he has put in consistently good performances, only to be marred by bad luck. We know that when Massa was ‘good’, he could easily match Bottas, as seen in 2014 and 2015. So, I don’t agree with the “Massa is already slow and Stroll is 1 second slower than him” side of the criticism the 18-year old gets. It’s a case of a lack of consistency, which Massa has in abundance, thanks to his status as a veteran and which Stroll lacks because of his inexperience. Lance also struggles to work with these Pirelli tyres in comparison to Massa, a problem he has to get on top of as soon as he can.

      Sure, Lance is no Ocon, not yet, but I can’t help but feel that he has a lot more to give in terms of performance. He reminds me a bit of Perez, who was similarly criticized for his extremely inconsistent performances in the latter-half of 2012 and the whole of 2013, and then dropped by McLaren. However, he was given another chance by Force India, and turned into the consistently fast and reliable driver we know today. Perez was 23 and had 3 seasons of experience back in 2013…Stroll is 18 and has 1 season of experience. Stroll, like Perez, has shown flashes of speed (His qualy performances in Monza and Baku) and given time, will grow similar to Perez in my opinion.

      All that being said, I don’t think Stroll has had a good season and to be honest, some of his performances have been really bad, but he is definitely not as devoid of talent as so many believe and I think he’ll improve considerably by the end of next year.

      1. Your Stroll / Perez comparison is very interesting and on the mark.

    20. I think there have been worse drivers than Stroll. Maybe even worse drivers in teams on par or better than Williams. But has there ever been a driver as bad who not only has been kept for the entire season but also confirmed for the next season as well?

      Using Palmer as a comparator isn’t fair either, Palmer faired better in his rookie season than against Hulkenberg which is a credit to Hulkenberg and possibly also the fact he got upgrades before Palmer. Massa is no Hulkenberg.

      And yes Lewis Hamilton was exceptionally well prepared with testing for his rookie season. He then went on to beat the reigning back to back world champion who had won his championships against the statistically greatest driver of all time. Stroll is further away from Massa than Massa was Alonso. He’s not F1 material, he’s a rich boy who got to buy a multi-season play date with his F1 heroes.

      1. If single sentences could be COTD, your final sentence would run away with the prize.

    21. @keithcollantine
      I came for the nitpicking, and the nits I’m going to pick are rather significant:

      And in the two races where he and Massa were running at the end Stroll was 11 seconds behind (Spain), and 18 (Russia), indicating his race pace was considerably better than his qualifying performance. Calling this the worst any rookie has ever done is a stretch.

      Those two races are prime examples of how looking at the results doesn’t necessarily allow to see the real picture, and how Massa hardly ever had an untroubled race.

      -Fact 1: Massa finished 18 seconds ahead of Stroll in Russia
      Yes, but: Unlike Stroll, Massa made two pit stops in the race, and this had nothing to do with strategy, as both his pit stops were necessitated by punctures. The first emergency pit stop wasn’t too disruptive despite losing 6 seconds on the inlap, and he retained his track position after the Force Indias pitted shortly after. The second puncture was what ruined his race. He “only” lost 3 seconds on the inlap, but the additional pit stop 10 laps from the end, on a track where tyre wear is minimal, meant that he didn’t even get a significant pace advantage on fresh tyres, or enough laps, to compensate for the time lost. On top of that, he caught traffic on the final laps, and lost a large chunk of time on the final lap when Vettel’s attempt at lapping him didn’t go smootly.
      He was set to finish 6th, the puncture dropped him back to 9th.
      Consequently, the 18 seconds separating the Williams drivers at the finish are by no means representative of their pace. It’s difficult to tell how large the gap would’ve been in a trouble-free race for Massa, but there are a few indications in the lap charts: On lap 20, the lap before the first puncture occurred, Massa was already 26.7 seconds ahead of Stroll, which is why he managed to stay ahead. That’s a whopping 1.3 seconds per lap despite a slight tyre advantage for Stroll (both on US, but Massa had to use his Q2 tyres, that had done 4 laps before the start of the race). Alternatively, if we look at where Massa’s position on the track during the race, assuming he would’ve just held his position instead of getting a puncture, we have to take into account that he was always a few seconds ahead of the Pérez (5 seconds before his first emergency pit stop, 7 seconds before the second one, despite losing 6 seconds on the first occasion, as mentioned above). Assuming he would’ve finished the race somewhere between 5-10 seconds ahead of Pérez, the real gap between the Williams drivers would’ve been around 38-43 seconds (on lap 51), so still somewhere between 0.75 and 0.85 seconds per lap.

      – Fact 2: Massa was only 11 seconds ahead of Stroll in Spain
      This is obviously true, but, again: Massa’s race was heavily affected by incidents that reduced their gap enormously.
      In fact, Massa was involved in a first lap accident, colliding with Fernando Alonso at the exit of turn 2 while trying to avoid Räikkönen and Verstappen, who were skidding towards him after their turn 1 collision. The collision resulted in a puncture, some floor damage, and an emergency pit stop that saw him rejoin the race a whopping 66 seconds off the lead, and 50 seconds behind Stroll. Massa did have the advantage of a clear track ahead of him, but Stroll never had too much traffic, either. According to the lap charts, his race was a repeated story of dropping back from the car ahead of him, so he was never really held up. Tyre strategies were as identical as can be for the rest of the race: Massa’s tyres were a lap fresher after his pit stop, and they pitted for Softs on laps 12 and 13 respectively. Their next pit stops came on lap 33 under the VSC. At that stage their gap was still large enough to stack their pit stops without losing time, which was partly due to a collision between Vandoorne and Massa, which cost Massa around 7 seconds.
      Long story short: After the accident, Massa’s race effectively started on lap 2 with a 50 second deficit, he had another costly clash that wasn’t his fault on lap 32, tyre strategies were completely identical, and he still converted that into an 11 second lead by lap 65. That’s 61(.896) seconds over 63 laps, i.e. 0.93 seconds or close to a second per lap.

      Conclusions:
      Stroll’s race performances in Russia and Spain my superficially look rather decent due to a relatively small gap to Massa, but on both occasions, Massa’s races were severely affected by incidents and punctures. When estimating their relative race paces by taking the observable evolution of their gaps into consideration and factoring out time losses caused by major race-affecting incidents, it has to be concluded that Stroll’s race pace was still between 0.75 and 0.93 seconds per lap off Massa’s race pace. Therefore, the conclusion stated in the article, i.e.:

      And in the two races where he and Massa were running at the end Stroll was 11 seconds behind (Spain), and 18 (Russia), indicating his race pace was considerably better than his qualifying performance.

      is untenable.

      1. Thanks for diving in. This proves that the numbers look better than his actual performance this year.

        Chances are small he will look this good next year, especially with both Renault and McLaren moving in front of Williams.

        Williams will need exceptional drivers to extract the odd WC point here and there. And Lance won’t be able to just cruise to the finish and expect there to be anything of value left to pick up.

    22. There’s an awful lot that Stroll has done this season that is worth criticising and a year in Gp3/F2 would’ve done him a world of good but, the fact Villeneuve always seems to pop up after he does something notable (whether good or bad) gives of this vibe that he doesn’t want him to succeed.

      1. I just wonder if this is just a Canadian pundit who happens to be the last WDC for Williams, being asked frequently about another Canadian driver, the only one since JV, who also drives for Williams. Other than that, JV’s opinion would not affect how well or not LS does.

        1. @robbie
          JV doesn’t need to be asked, he’s the main commentator for the French Canal + broadcast. He finds something negative to say about Stroll without anyone asking at least once or twice per Free Practice session.
          I’d say that he does have the ability to influence Stroll’s career. Not if he keeps shotgun-criticising him like he did for most of the season. It’s easy to attribute what he says to him just being himself: an arrogant attention-seeker who likes the sound of his own voice. But if he were to narrow down his criticism, leaving out his bluntest insults and his most outrageous conspiracy theories, he could be a contributing factor to an unfavourable media response to Stroll that could affect the perception of important sponsors, such as Martini. If they want to reduce their investment because their association with Stroll is perceived as a liability, he’s going to be in trouble.

          1. @nase ”he’s the main commentator for the French Canal + broadcast” – I thought he’s a pundit for Sky Italia. At least I’ve seen him regularly with the Sky Italia crew.

            1. @jerejj

              Nel 2013 ha iniziato l’attività di commentatore per il campionato mondiale di Formula 1, lavorando per Sky Sport Italia e Canal+.

              According to his Italian wikpedia article.
              In French:

              Depuis 2013, Jacques Villeneuve rejoint le groupe Canal+ pour commenter les Grands Prix de Formule 1 aux côtés du journaliste Julien Fébreau16.

              I didn’t know he worked as a pundit for Italian TV as well, but I can assure you that he’s commentating every session with cars on the track. Nothing stopping him from jumping out of the cabin to speak a little italiano, I guess. ;-)
              Or does he speak English/French with a simultaneous translation?

            2. Wait, “to commentate” is a barbaric Germanism, isn’t it? Sorry for that, looks like my brain tried to process too many languages at the same time …

          2. @nase Not buying it. Couldn’t disagree more with what you’ve said.

            1. @robbie
              Not buying what? As far as I know, I simply voiced an opinion. I don’t think I’ve tried to “sell” you anything as a fact, so it would be nice if you could tell me where I stated something that could be interpreted as factually wrong.

            2. @nase Well your obviously overly negative opinion of JV has you trying to sell us that he can influence Stroll’s career, like it is a fact, and I’m not buying that for a second. I think it is a huge and baseless stretch you are making. Well I don’t think it, I know it.

            3. @robbie
              Okay, so the bottom line is: You’re a great fan of JV’s, and it annoys you that I speak negatively of him. Just say so, it’s okay.
              As for the rest, I think your judgement is affected by that disagreement. I’m not saying that he currently has any impact on Stroll’s career. What I’m saying is that he could be influential in the perception of Stroll’s qualities if he toned his criticism down to a more appropriate volume. By raising good points without exaggerating too much, it is possible to influence other commentators, who tend to repeat opinions from influential figures if they think they’re popular opinions. That kind of groupthink is ubiquitous in the F1 community, it’s what creates the drivers’ images and public perceptions, that can be quite detached from hard facts.
              But that’s not what he does. I’m only saying what he could do if he really wanted to harm Stroll. And that wouldn’t be criticizing him harsher and louder race after race.
              But yeah, you’re reading something into my comment that simply isn’t there.

            4. @nase I don’t know that I’m even annoyed, so much that I just disagree with your take on JV and find it misplaced and exaggerated. I simply don’t agree that JV has been criticizing LS harsher and louder race after race. And some of JV’s criticisms have been due to what the Stroll’s themselves said…’look at the results’…Well we and JV have, and there hasn’t been a lot to see. I’m saying that as someone who believes Stroll could show us something yet and we’ve seen a few glimmers of that. And the fact is, LS has more seasons ahead to show us progress no matter what anybody thinks today. It is up to him to sway everyone’s opinions.

              I believe that fellow commentators of JV have minds of their own and are absolutely free to agree or disagree with him and can share their own views on LS as they please. I don’t think JV is trying to help nor harm LS nor is interested in editing himself to shape others’ opinions either way. JV only knows how to speak his own mind and is not interested in political correctness, nor groupthink, and is absolutely fine being debated on his points and would support his comments with valid reasons if the conversation were to be expanded.

              So I simply think you are exaggerating JV character to the negative, as well as his ‘intentions’ as well as any level of groupthink you suggest could occur from his comments. We are all free to see LS’s actions on the track and make our judgements on him based on that.

    23. Copy and paste from my post elsewhere:

      Like Jacques or not, he is right!

      The amount of money spent to get Lance to where he is now is obscene! F1 pit crew in F3, F1 testing prior to this season…in season testing…and yet, the results are not inspiring.

      The Baku podium was simply right place right time. He didn’t drive the wheels off the car, he simply kept out of trouble and that should never be a reason to praise a driver.

      It’s sad that his seat is guaranteed over Wehrlein or other capable drivers. Even sadder that a revered team like Williams has to resort to panhandling.

    24. Villeneuve tells it how it is. Annoys everyone in the process but normally there is a tinge of truth in what he says.

      Stroll is not good enough for F1. Massa is past it but I don’t think he has had a team-mate he is so comfortable with until Stroll.
      Last year, the guy currently getting hammered by Lewis was dominating Massa at Williams. Now Massa is doing so more convincingly to Stroll. Don’t think there is a driver on the grid who deserves his seat less. Hopefully one day Williams will pick the best drivers available again and not the ones who give the most $$$

      1. If Williams pick the best available drivers for 2018, we would see Kubica and Wehrlein/Kvyat. But, alas, we will have only one of those three alongside rich boy Stroll.

    25. Lance Stroll hasn’t exactly set the world alight, but neither has Williams as a team. We have yet to see Stoffel Vandoorne’s true worth yet due to the lack of performance from McLaren. When, hopefully soon, Williams have a competitive car, we can judge Stroll more fairly.
      Having a billionaire father was always going to attract criticism from certain people, that is only natural. We can’t expect every rookie to be like Max Verstappen, so in that sense maybe we are expecting too much too soon from Lance.
      Comparing him to Maldonado is unfair. Pastor became infamous for crashing and for having a bad attitude towards criticisms drawn, no one knows outside of Williams how Lance conducts himself.
      However, if Stroll turns out to be a liability, such as Maldonado was, he will be gone in a few years. Much like Jacques Villeneuve was!

    26. I was concerned that Stroll would be more dangerous than he has turned out to be (although he gave me a real scare in Austin). He has mostly kept out of trouble, and he doesn’t seem to be sawing at the wheel like he was at the beginning of the season. He is not a disaster, and Williams need the money. I guess that I have seen worse drivers in recent times (Palmer, Van de Garde, Chilton), but let’s wait for Kubica to really clean his clock.

    27. Nope, Stroll is just properly crap. Baku was a massive fluke, Massa could have won the race.

      Williams are stupid to let Massa go and keep Stroll.

    28. I think Keith and others are obsessed with pulling apart anything JV says. I find this entire write up odd.

      1. Well…JV tells it like he sees it, and that can make for interesting discussion and debate, so that makes for great material for Keith to include here for us to discuss.

    29. It’s good to see how closely Villeneuve still follows F1. Despite all his criticism.

      1. @patrickl Hey I know we don’t always agree on things but as a huge JV fan I like what you just said. Not sure if you would care to do this but google Area27 and you’ll see the amazing race track JV and some partners have built in British Columbia. It’s touted as a private club for members, typically with high end supercars but there’s more to it than that. Read about the thought they put into it. Imho it puts the Tilke tracks to shame. And…this is just me wishful thinking…if any of his sons want to race and get to F1 that track will be an amazing training ground for them. JV is a purebred racer through and through. After all, look who his dad was.

        1. Area27 is dreamy.

        2. @robbie Yeah, looks like a great track. Bit like the Hugenholtz tracks. He designed Suzuka and Zolder plus bits of Zandvoort and Hockenheim and probably others.

          Bit dusty perhaps, but you need to stay on the racing line anyway. Also looks like it would be difficult to overtake too though, but with current F1 cars that’s probably just about any track which doesn’t have a 2km straight.

    30. The sad thing about Stroll is that he has almost everything but the natural ability. I think he’s a committed and smart young driver, but when I watch onboard with him the problems are obvious, early braking and shakey steering. In Brazil he couldn’t overtake Grosjean on 40 lap old tyres. I think he deserves another year but I fear his problems are fundamental

    31. JV has some good and valid, if not blunt remarks on F1 at times. But, he often contradicts himself. I suppose that’s good when new info is processed. Sometimes it seems like JV loves to hear JV talk though. Agree or disagree, still interesting to hear what he does have to say.

      1. Apparently, JV loves to hear JV sing too… :)

    32. I’ve got nothing against Stroll being rich but he seems to be pretty second rate! If we judge Stroll purely on the basis of his performances, against a fading team mate, he would have been dropped by every other team. Having said that lets see how he does in Season 2. Personally I’m not holding my breath.

    33. Stroll is a 19(?) year old kid in his first F1 season with little experience. His wet pace (where we have tradionally said the best racers reside) in Italy was impressive. At times he has looked like an amateur and others like someone who could make it happen. In other words, a decent rookie. Give him another season.

    34. This is kind of the problem with the world nowadays, most of us except a rookie to come on to the stage and blast the world with amazing performances. Give him time ! Not everyone is a Max Verstappen !

      Some people need time, need experience before they can give it their all. I completely disagree with JV’s comments.

      1. JV : you noob it’s expect not except, “most of us expect“, omg one of the worst noobs ever !

        Ashwin : oh sorry JV !!!

        1. Lol that’s funny.

    35. Stroll has been inconsistent. However his best performances have often come at the right time (Monza in the rain in qualifying and even better in the dry in the race. In Azerbaijan when all around him were losing their heads. In Mexico running Ocon close at the end, when everyone had already decided Ocon was the star of the show…) He has shown a safety first attitude (backing out of risky overtaking manouveres, ceding position to faster cars) which has lead to race finishes and inevitably points which is important for the team and every lap he drives is extra experience.

      However his inconsistent development / safety first atiitude has cost Williams nothing. Williams will finish 5th in the constructors championship this year. Assuming Massa had the same year (42pts), Stroll would have needed to score 135 points (95 more than he has) for Williams to draw level with Force India. That points tally is closer to Verstappens the Perez’s (so extremely hard achieve in a Williams) Ultimately he has done a very professional job for the team. his arguably premature promotion to F1 has not cost Williams anything.

      Next season he will be 20 and no longer a rookie. Most 20 year olds aren’t in F1 yet but he will have a year of F1 racing experience (& a year+ of driving 2014 spec F1 cars). Next year he has to push the car closer to the limit and show his speed (become more like Sainz or Hulkenberg maybe). On the other hand he could just be a solid driver who will be there at the end, score points and brings loads of cash to a team.

    36. The only positive I can take away from JV’s self-serving outbursts is that he isn’t singing when he makes them.

    37. I like JV’s contradictory outbursts – they make me feel really normal. Every team has used pay drivers since forever. Probably the most famous being Andrea de Cesaris (or Crasheris as he quickly became known). The ultimate pay driver with Marlboro family connections, he crashed out no less than 19 Times in his debut season and is the longest serving Grand Prix Driver never to win a race (208 starts). An accusation that you could never level at Pastor Maldonado, coupled with the fact that Pastor could run rings around him. Yet to listen to the doom merchants, this kind of thing is the beginning of the end of F1. Stroll on!

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_de_Cesaris

    38. i see people talking a lot about the podium he got, but, really, it’s not like he got a podium, it’s like he almost missed it.

      Massa was on course to win that race. He was the first car behind Vettel and Hamilton on the red flag period and his rear dampers broke out of nowhere, then the race got restarted and he was overtaken by Stroll and Ricciardo passed both with his trademark divings. If Stroll were just a little bit better, then he should’ve won that race. Instead he lost second position on the finish line.

      1. Mmm, despite having mercedes vs renault engine, you could overtake in baku, I don’t see how stroll could’ve defended from ricciardo, even if he were a better driver, there’s too much difference between the performance of the cars, bottas literally got him after catching him at the last turn, I doubt even massa could’ve kept ricciardo behind, but certainly bottas, only cause he was coming from a lot further behind and barely got stroll.

    39. His development is one of the slowest i ever saw.
      He has absolutely no confidence on his skills. Always too careful and afraid, breaking earlier, not fighting at all for position. It’s not like his seat at Williams is on the line for him to be so conservative. It’s irritating.

    40. That’s very observant Edd. I wonder how much is down to ‘fear of failure’ due to an over protective dominant dad?

    41. Villeneuve might be right about Stroll– or he might be shooting off at the mouth again. The problem is, he’s so frequently guilty of the latter, I can’t bring myself to care about when it’s the former.

      It’s hard to take JV seriously when the two drivers he slams the most are 11th and 1st in the standings.

    42. Is he the only f1 driver needed glasses…..?

    43. JV is like Bernie, Talks just to create attention. There is some truth in his words, but then there is lots of attention seeking in there as well.

      As for Stroll? He is preparing for F1… in F1. Why bother paying for a GP2 season when you can race in F1 and prepare for the real thing at the real thing. His reputation might suffer, but if he is good eventually nobody will bother him with poor performance of the past.

      Like Nico Rosberg didn’t win a race for forever…

      But if he continues these performances for a few more years then he simply isn’t F1 material, like Maldonado before him and other high paying pay drivers out there, even if he gets an awesome result now and then…

      There is no driver in F1 right now that is really terrible or poor, there are just degrees of excellence, it is to early to tell if he is a potentially a WDC. He certainly is not a youngster of Verstappen mold though, there is also a question now when results are poor: Is it the driver or the team at fault?

    44. Lance Stroll is a frustrating driver to me. Not for the first time in recent years, a team has felt compelled to put a driver in F1 earlier than is optimal for that driver’s development, simply to keep that driver out of the hands of other teams. I’m not sure if Lance had arranged the Williams test-to-race deal before or very shortly after he left the Ferrari development squad, but Ferrari does not allow its drivers to work with other F1 teams without its permission, and leapfrogging multiple other Academy members without a compelling-to-Ferrari reason for doing so would surely have been “without permission”. Once Lance rejoined the young-driver market (officially or otherwise), Renault’s driver development squad would surely have been interested (they’ve also previously taken drivers for money/exposure, in addition to the ones they’ve taken for talent). Williams and Renault are both fighting in the midfield and both would benefit from extra cash with relatively undemanding requirements (Stroll brought far more money than Palmer, whose Renault F1 contract was signed at a similar time; would Stroll have been massively worse than Palmer in terms of performance, had Renault beaten Williams to that deal?)

      Lance was fast in F3, but erratic. I was very uncomfortable with the amount of extra practise he was getting, combined with the parentally-bankrolled team. This was not just due to potential unfair advantage, or because the perception of this frightened away strong opponents who might have caused mutual honing of skill, but because the last person to try that method to anything like this extent was Nelson Piquet Jr. His driving never really prospered from that technique either.

      That this is so makes very little sense, since even a moderately efficient practise schedule would be expected to yield faster improvement than not practising. Perhaps the widespread introduction of simulators, improvements in motorsport-specific exercise training, increase in road-car-based coaching and/or the generally reduced level needed to attain F1 entry-level standard (as distinct from, say, “consistent front-of-midfield standard”, which is arguably higher than ever), has introduced an opportunity cost to physical testing? The point is, that in the junior series, winning is not enough. Development of the driver is the second-most important thing, after securing a solid financial base (something the Strolls obviously did a long time ago). “Backing the wrong horse” for improving as a driver can be more calamitous than “backing the wrong horse” when signing for a junior series team.

      Regardless, by not doing anything except F3, when only being at F1 entry-level standard, there was always going to be a risk. Had Lance landed at, say, Sauber (a team who would have welcomed the Stroll monies like a year of Christmases put together), he could have developed out of the limelight. I’m not sure it would normally be the greatest place to put a driver due to the extent of their struggles, but Lance needed a quiet place to finish honing their talent. Despite David Coulthard and Mark Webber’s comments about F1 not being a finishing school (they’ve both said it, but I don’t know who was first), more than one driver has successfully used it in exactly that way. Williams, fighting to be at the front of the midfield despite being the 4th-poorest team in F1, was never going to be that team – even with that year of testing beforehand.

      So we have:

      – a prematurely-promoted driver (by two years, in my reckoning – some other F3 drivers displaying similar erratic driving in F3 that year now look to be various levels of F1-grade)

      – who could use learning to race in a different method to the one he’s accustomed to using and may not be familiar with how to engage with these yet

      – a team that doesn’t have the luxury of protecting that driver or giving them much extra time to learn (at least, not after the first F1 race)…

      – …and is embroilled in a battle with better-resourced opponents

      Did I mention that in Massa, the opponent that Stroll has is considerably better and consistently more underrated than Lance was likely to be? No wonder Lance has faced such an uphill battle.

      I noticed quite a lot of improvement from Lance over the course of this year, for he has become moderately consistent, especially since mid-season. It is a very useful skill to have, and gives me optimism that he can salvage a career worth having after all. The trick now is to work on speed in 2018 with the same effectiveness as he’s just been working on avoiding race-ending errors. At the start of this year, I’d have said Lance wasn’t capable of that. Now I’m thinking he just might.

      Whoever becomes Lance’s team-mate may not have the toughest battle on the grid, but they would be wise to regard the level of his challenge as a moving target, rather than dismissing him as someone who is purely there for the money.

    Comments are closed.