Lance Stroll, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Stroll hits back at Villeneuve over “worst rookie ever” criticism

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Lance Stroll says his performance last season answers Jacques Villeneuve’s description of him as the “worst rookie ever”.

Stroll was asked about recent comments attributed to Villeneuve in which the 1997 world champion suggested Williams reserve driver Robert Kubica would try to undermine the team’s race drivers.

He said I was the worst rookie ever last year. The last time I checked I finished on the podium, started on the front row, scored 40 world championship points, finished three points – and one position – behind my team mate, who has 16 years’ experience. So I don’t really listen to Jacques Villeneuve any more.

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Max Verstappen’s attitude to Mercedes’ engine mode advantage won him some positive comments yesterday:

I think it was when Schumacher became untouchable that I drifted off regular F1 weekends.

Then came Hamilton in 2007 (I admit I don’t follow the junior championships) and my F1 hormones started rising once again. I was excited by the new blood and since then I haven’t missed a race, including five trips overseas to catch the action live track side.

Even the Vettel/Newey/Red Bull era couldn’t break my spirit. Entering the fourth season of what seems to be another Mercedes domination and once again my hope for uncertainty is replaced by predictable outcomes.

I join the rest of you by praising Max’s winner approach and beg for the other teams to stop fighting for second best and up your game.

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Keith Collantine
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70 comments on “Stroll hits back at Villeneuve over “worst rookie ever” criticism”

  1. Stroll gets waaay too much hate and criticism just for having a pay drive.

    Sure, he’s not winning the world championship in his career but he’s by no means the worst and he’s certainly not an unfair racer or anything. I’d say more he’s more deserving than Ericsson, for example, a driver who has been around for years but has not shown anything in his time.

    1. To be fair to Ericsson, it’s not like he’s ever driven anything resembling a competitive car in his F1 career. The closest thing to was the 2015 Sauber and even that couldn’t score points consistently.

      1. Even so, Nasr tripled his points tally.

        1. Mind you, most of those points came from a couple of freak results – it also should be noted that, had Nasr nor picked up that 9th place in Brazil, in 2016 Ericsson would have been classified ahead of Nasr, suggesting that his performance relative to Nasr had improved compared to 2015.

    2. And Stroll proves to be a smart kid as well:

      So I don’t really listen to Jacques Villeneuve anymore.

      1. Villeneuve’s career must be one of the worst declines in Formula 1’s history, after being gifted a dominant Williams car in his first two years. He seems to be under the illusion he’s remembered as a great. Maybe that’s harsh, but the way he constantly puts down contemporary drivers is intensely annoying and really he’s not up there in the pantheon to justify his clearly massive opinion of himself.

        1. between 1996-2002 JV was hot property.

          I do feel the Australia accident had an effect on him, but before that he wasn’t shabby at all. Totally blew HHF into the weeds.

    3. Dash Riprock
      6th April 2018, 4:20

      Lance is only quick to pay, and frankly speaking that is all Williams cares about. If that’s fine for them, it’s fine for me. It’s their team, not mine.

    4. Calum nope. He has absolutely no pace, somehow a wet Monza suited him, he apparently hasn’t figured out what. He was painfully slow last year, surely one of the biggest deltas between teammates in the past 20 years.

    5. To say he’s the worst rookie of all time is a little harsh, especially considering that there have been drivers like Haryanto, Inoue, Rosset, Diniz and Chandhok on the grid. I wouldn’t say Stroll was worse than any of those terrible drivers, but he’s probably in the same league as them. I think this season will really show us whether Stroll has the potential to move up to a mediocre driver category, or slump in to the worst drivers to ever grace an F1 grid category.

      1. Have to agree with JV…and he is more qualified than most of us on here to give an opinion……Its also sad to see Williams a shadow of its former self….and getting worse

        1. Villeneuve might be more qualified to give an opinion but he kept stating bottas is rubbish and raikkonen better; now this year surely raikkonen is doing a better job, but villeneuve said so whole last season too, when it was obvious that bottas was doing a decent job getting wins when hamilton wasn’t on form and raikkonen wasn’t doing the same when vettel wasn’t.

  2. DRS; More, bigger, better, yeah FIA that’s what we want, and then can we please have on-track water sprinklers as well.

    1. @hohum see my comment below

  3. Before everybody immediately comments complaining about more DRS, that Autosport article talks about the much deeper problems with the large front wing and complicated aerodynamics, and says that Brawn and the FIA are now planning an aerodynamic fix for 2019, sooner than previously thought. I also can’t help but feel slightly vindicated regarding my comments a few days ago.

    Sadly there was no mention of getting rid of the thumb nose

    1. I have never understood the front/rear weight distribution rule and why teams agreed to this. If the front downforce changes there will have to be different front/rear weights to compensate, otherwise you are going to have either an understeering pig or a tail happy beast. Maybe reduce the number of planes and the dimensions of the front wing and allow teams to move ballast to compensate. The front wing is just too big and dominates aero; time for a change.

      1. You know, I’m willing to bet that the changes will be made and probably not have as much of an effect as people seem to think that they will, in part because it looks like the real problem is the floor rather than the wing (that, rather than the front wing, is the dominant aero surface, but for some reason most people here seem to have this somewhat weird notion that the wings are the dominant aero surfaces on the car despite the fact that the floor produces the majority of the downforce of the car).

        1. And how good do you think the floor would work without the frontwing?

          Its like saying the steering wheel does all the steering.

      2. The weight distribution doesn’t really have that big effect because the weight of the car is totally over powered by the aerodynamics (as is the case for all single seaters). The weight distribution is a cost saving effort and fundamentally there is nothing wrong with it. It simplifies gearbox construction and suspension design. With different weight distributions would also change a lot of other things in the car. It also makes pirelli’s job easier when all cars have similar mechanical parameters.

        The size of the front wing is not an issue. In fact a simpler and larger front wing would be better for racing. A highly complex and highly angled wing like we have now is a wing that is very sensitive to anything that disturbs the air flow that the hits the wing. All those tiny winglets and elements work very close to stalling and once you get dirty air those flow structures break causing loss of downforce.

        A bigger front wing with less extreme angles and far far fewer elements would cope better with dirty air as air flow changes would cause less loss of performance. In the end the key issue is the amount of downforce. Just too much. Dirty air is not just air that is moving to all directions or air that has lower pressure but the air the car passes through is also dragged along with the car. The more downforce the more the air is dragged along.

    2. @strontium, yes FOM have recognised the bleeding obvious (I’m sure Brawn knew even before he took the job), but we have had false dawns before so I’ll save my hurrahs till I see the final regulation changes.

    3. Is the thumb nose that bad? Sure the nose looks better on the Mercedes/Toro Rosso, but it still looks okay on eg the Renault and Sauber. Only car I really dislike it on is the Red Bull, and to an extent Force India

      1. The Mighty Boof
        6th April 2018, 11:39

        Yeah the thumb nose is the problem. Fix that and all will be well.

  4. Villeneuve may act like a bitter old man a lot of the time, but he isn’t too far off on the analysis of Stroll. Sure, he has a podium finish to his name, but that was almost entirely out of circumstance and not due to a great performance. Also, finishing closely behind a washed-up Felipe Massa doesn’t exactly prove your worth.

    He’s got potential to be pretty good but I doubt he’ll ever shake the Canadian trust fund baby label unless he somehow wins a world championship.

  5. “The rear proposal is for a bigger rear wing flap, which would create a bigger effect when DRS is employed.”


  6. Neil (@neilosjames)
    6th April 2018, 1:55

    They’re not going to make any massive aerodynamic changes for several years, and the root causes can’t be properly addressed until they do, so I suppose a couple of halfway-useful fudges are better than nothing.

    Obviously I’d rather the letters ‘D’, ‘R’ and ‘S’ were not mentioned, but it’s still a necessary evil…

  7. Stroll would be better off answering his detractors on the track, rather than in the press. Especially when it comes to JV. All Jacques can do these days is shoot from the lip with his many criticisms. Stroll has a chance to prove him wrong on the track, if he is able to.

    1. That was Strolls point but since he doesnt prove him wrong on the track it falls kinda flat.

      He will be allright though. He got all the money and the few odd fans that think his podium was an achievment.

  8. manoli moriaty
    6th April 2018, 2:26

    Maybe that’s harsh

    Not harsh at all, Villeneuve is nowadays about as relevant with the F1 as his “music” with music.

  9. Bigger rear wing flap? FIA you can keep your bigger wing flap. Worst idea ever

  10. angelic (@angelicdarkness)
    6th April 2018, 3:00

    Stroll seems to be dreaming lately. He was annihilated in qualifying by his aging teammate who was at his peak 10 years ago and was never considered a benchmark in qualifying even then. The one podium he got was because that “teammate” had to retire because of circumstances out of his control, otherwise that teammate would have surely been on the podium if not won that race. The reason he was so close to his teammate in points was because williams had roughly the fifth fastest car on the grid and he was able to finish nearby his teammate by overtaking backmarkers easily even though stroll started way behind in most races. The reason his teammate couldnt finish much higher was because basically that was the best williams could do last year.

    1. Regarding Massa 10 years ago. In 2008 he actually was probably the best qualifier on the grid. He was known to be quick in qualies pre-accident

  11. Here is an idea, how about we exchange current DRS systems with flap that would give you extra drag in the breaking zone so u get the advantage over the car ahead with more breaking power not on straight line speed. Would that make better racing?

    1. @lozi that’d be cool, but I can see it being “unsafe” changing a cars braking performance lap to lap… one mis calculation (made at race speeds), and the driver can have a massive crash.

  12. Regarding COTD: ”another Mercedes domination”
    – TBH, the domination of Mercedes came to an end at the end of 2016 already. Yes, they won both titles again last season, but not in a dominant manner like the three preceding ones.

    – Good to know that they’re trying to come up with something to fix the following problem to a certain extent for as soon as next season already however small it presumably would be since there aren’t going to be any significant technical regulation changes until 2021, but anything that could be done by then already would be a good step already.

  13. the redbull guys are clearly aiming for a Merc seat, but what are the odds of either of them beating Valterri or even Hamilton in the championship to warrant a replacement and even then would Mercedes offload a #2 and neglect the likes of Ocon for them????

    1. Verstappen > Ocon

    2. Well mercedes hasnt been looking for a top driver since Hamilton joined but if their dominance is comming to an end who knows. Right now the top teams seem happy with an incompetent #2.

      1. Don’t see Verstappen nor Ricciardo being an incompetent #2, whoever you put #1.

        1. @dennis65

          But they aint in a top team either. At best they are competing with the top teams #2.

          1. Any team that can compete for wins is a topteam and Red Bull could/can.

          2. Then Williams was a topteam last year aswell

          3. He obviously means regularly, not a one off!

  14. Only a fool would try to discount Stroll’s achievements, however, there wasn’t a luckier driver on the grid last year. Not even close. Meanwhile few could argue his teamie didn’t suffer a massive amount of bad luck. So Lance’s results are best viewed with the facts in mind. They are definitely skewed. Now if he can put two or three seasons together where that’s the case, then no one will be able to call it a fluke. If I were a bookie, he’d be long odds against any but Sirotkin, even Palmer. But I’d have loved to see him vs Wehrlein. That would have made a ton more sense and maybe given Williams a chance at some sort of success. Instead…

  15. Want a cheap DeficientRacingSolution boost, open DRS for everyone everywhere but the race leader.

    1. Mario kart is pretty fun

    2. Rubberbanding in F1! Only if they can have power ups too!

  16. l wonder how far LH,MV,DR ect could of got that Williams up the grid over the last few years..Villie has a valid point.

    1. They’d have fought with force india drivers due to having those drivers, but the car was worse than FI.

  17. Pennyroyal tea
    Is too simple to suggest simplify the front wing, & reduce the rear wing so F1 can actually be what I think most of us want, a racing series.

  18. There have been plenty of pay drivers in F1. But the Stroll’s ramped the practice orders of magnitude beyond anything we’ve seen previously, to a level that is disgraceful and embarrassing for what is supposed to be the pinnacle of Motorsport. My issue is with Laurence (“Dad”), not so much Lance, as Lance is simply along for the ride, doing the driving. It is Laurence that corrupts the sport with his millions-per-race.

    1. Nah I would say BE corrupted the sport along with CVC if he hadn’t already corrupted it with the MS/Ferrari era, which started the big drive toward massive spending in order to keep up to the elephant BE and Max created. Of course in more recent years loading up the top teams with too much power hasn’t helped the money race either.

      I doubt Williams asked for F1 to be this way, but they have found themselves along with the majority of the teams in survival mode. Still though I doubt LS forced them to take his money. They could have chosen a different option. With all the selfish and greedy interests in F1, picking LS to be disgusted in is like being disgusted that the cars need tires.

      L$ is a result of Williams is a result of BE’s F1…and change is afoot. Be disgusted at BE for the results of his actions are present for all to see. Let’s take heart that an entity is now present to try to reverse things so that the L$’s of the world aren’t needed other than to actually put their clothing logos on cars, which would make their money sponsor money rather than family money, and therefore, I suppose, be far less disgusting.

  19. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    6th April 2018, 7:24

    I’ve never known excitement for a new season be so low and the sport so flat. Must admit even I am only watching out of habit and loyalty now. I still hold out hope for 2021 even if that does seem a lifetime away. The future should be exciting, the present is the most dull I’ve ever known.

  20. Lance Stroll
    6th April 2018, 7:50

    I think Sirotkin has already outdone Stroll in the “Worst rookie ever” competion.

  21. Villeneuve is probably right, but good on Lance to believe in himself. That’s what any competitor needs to do.

  22. Love this Villeneuve vs Stroll bickering. What a crotchedy old French Canadian that man is. World Champion he is, humble and agreeablee he is not.

  23. Martijn (@)
    6th April 2018, 12:23

    About time that some-one critizises ‘I happended to have had a winning car one season’ Villeneuve. Mediocre talent and bitter old man. I wondered why he is quoted at all, but you have to give him the fact he did drive F1, so he is sort of an expert. Lets hope the media keeps it to a minimum.

    1. Do look at JV’s racing career and accomplishments before you label him as mediocre talent. He has a CV that is only shared by Andretti and Fittipaldi in the history of racing, with his Indy 500 win, his CART Championship, and his F1 WDC. He came second in his Peugeot at Lemans as well…in other words within a hair of the Triple Crown.

      If you don’t like his personality or his opinions that’s fine…we all have our own fingerprint. But to deny his talent is simply to choose to ignore it.

      1. Bravo… well said. People who dislike him for what he says seem to have to rubbish his talent.

      2. Robbie – Expert definition Ex – has been, Spert – little drip under pressure.

  24. Got to admit that answer from Stroll is savage

  25. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    6th April 2018, 12:52

    Stroll has brought the criticism unto himself with his incredible delta to Massa throughout the season – he was not able to close the gap. He’s a super-privileged son of a billionaire who skipped GP2 and slingshot himself into F1 by the size of his dad’s wallet. He remained in F1 while Massa was shown the door just so that his handicaps would not be so obvious in every race – instead he is now paired with another rookie where he has the upper hand with a season under his belt.

    I’d understand if he shut up and simply proved all of us wrong but to come out and defend last season with scores of 8.5 and comments like this, it just shows you that the kid is living in a tiny bubble where people tell him what he wants to hear. JV is speaking the truth here – I would have preferred if Lance came out and said “yes, I agree. There’s tons of room for improvements. Please judge me on my future performance. I wanna do right by Williams, my country and the fans.”

    1. I am probably JV’s biggest fan on this site, but I am a bit surprised at his vehemence against Stroll, almost like something happened between Lawrence and JV at some point last season. JV started out fairly complimentary of Lance initially, and defended that his Dad was a billionaire, defended Lance as being qualified to be in F1, but it feels to me like Lawrence insulted JV at some point or something like that.

      I do recall JV defending his negative comments last year by saying that the Stroll’s urged them to look at the results, and so to look at the results you don’t see much. Lance is hanging onto a few shining moments that were somewhat gifted to him by the attrition of others, and he did have the car hooked up once or twice.

      I think Stroll has not had much car to show much, and we certainly have this season to gauge more, depending on the car again as well, as it always does for drivers.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        6th April 2018, 16:06

        @Robbie I have to agree with you that it is a bit awkward to see a Canadian attack his only other countryman in F1 and you’re probably right that something may have caused JV to become more vocal. However, I do feel that JV is probably right about it.

        About Stroll not having much car to show much, I would have to disagree with that because the car was excellent for a rookie. Obviously Lance would not be driving a Ferrari or Mercedes in his 1st year in F1 but the Williams was capable of scoring a lot more points than it did.

        I think it’s also unfair to have a driver like Hulkenberg driving a car that scored the same points (43 points) with so many retirements who could probably win multiple races and poles in a Ferrari or Mercedes. I think the car was probably too good for Stroll.

        1. @freelittlebirds Perhaps if Massa had managed more results with the car last year I’d agree moreso with your point, but I’m convinced the combination of a rookie, learning how to be in F1, in a problematic car that couldn’t get the tires to work most of the time, was only going to handcuff most drivers under the same circumstances. Massa was engrained on the team with full experience and he could do little better than a driver some think doesn’t even belong in F1. Sure on average his performance was better than Lance’s, but his end results show the car was still the weakest link. Anyway, we have this season to see more. So far the car looks barely improved vs the rest of the grid. But then this is a team struggling to survive and the Stroll money is still a drop in the bucket vs the top teams.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            6th April 2018, 20:40

            @Robbie I’m not sure why you think the car wasn’t good – it was better than Renault, Toro Rosso, Haas, McLaren and Sauber. Alonso was and still is driving a Ferrari, Hulkenberg is driving a Renault, Grosjean is driving a Haas, and Sainz was driving a Toro Rosso and Renault.

            These are drivers that deserve seriously better cars than Stroll did in his rookie year.

            I think Lance got a super car in his rookie year. With the exception of Lewis Hamilton, few have gotten better cars in their first year in F1.

            It’s going to be impossible to measure Stroll’s performance this year. If Sirotkin is faster, Stroll is done for and should probably DTM as a test driver. If he’s equal or even about the same (within 0.2 seconds), no one will think Stroll and Sirotkin are both fast, we’ll just assume they are both 1 second off the average pace.

            Even if Stroll is 1 second faster than Sirotkin, we’ll all simply think that Stroll is an average driver and could be coming closer to Massa’s times. Without Massa as his benchmark, Stroll’s season is done for this year – he really needed to accept the challenge, not run from it. They should have paid for Felipe to stay in F1 and then we could have seen Lance’s progress.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            6th April 2018, 20:42

            Correction – Alonso was and still is driving a McLaren :-) He wishes he was driving a Ferrari…

          3. Wow and I can’t see where you think it was such a good car. Few have gotten better cars in their first year? Really?

            A distant 5th is hardly inspiring. Different drivers would not have made up over a hundred points to FI.

            We’ll have to agree to disagree, and I think trying to speculate on who will be faster than the other is moot…they both need to be working to progress the car. The ‘winner’ between the two is going to be a lottery as this car is likely going to continue to be problematic, and if it can’t make the tires work again they’re both going to be greatly handcuffed again.

            “He really needed to accept the challenge…?” Are you suggesting he got rid of FM? I think that is a Williams decision. Should have paid for FM just so you can dwell on this? Don’t think so.

            We don’t need FM there to see how Williams has progressed. Or hasn’t. What will be will be. We already cannot judge yet given their shakey first weekend. Let’s give them some time. They’re not going to be winning races nor podiums this season, so let’s just see how they do as a team this year in developing. They’ve already got Haas and McLaren ahead of them instead of behind, which is out of their control.

  26. Stroll even scoring 15 points on Azerbaijan and Massa’s best result being only a 6th place, still lost by three points. Massa scored points on 13 races, Stroll only on 7. Massa had two retirements when points were a real possibilty. Stroll retired by his own mistakes when he was way out of the points. He was constantly a second off the pace of a driver who shouldn’t even be there anymore.

    He is not fooling no one with the points table under his arm. It’s the only statistic Massa did not completely trashed him.

    1. Massa was performing like raikkonen, he could well be in F1 this year since raikkonen is still here and improved even.

      But yes, points don’t tell the whole story, stroll was 1 sec behind massa.

  27. Jacques Villeneuve was the worst world champion ever!

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