Lance Stroll, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Inexperienced drivers not holding Williams back – Stroll

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Lance Stroll says the lack of experience in Williams’ driver line-up is not holding the team back despite its troubled start to 2018.

What they say

RaceFans asked Stroll (in an open media session) whether the team would be better off still having his experienced 2017 team mate Felipe Massa in the car:

Q: You mentioned Felipe, do you think his 15-odd years experience would have helped develop this car, or not?

LS: Too hard to say, I don’t think so. I think it’s not about fine details right now it’s about the bigger picture.

Q: The concept…

LS: Yeah, because we’ve tried a lot of different things.

Q: So even in the most experienced driver’s hands you’d still be battling to get out of Q1?

LS: I believe so.

Q: So Felipe couldn’t get out of Q1 [in Bahrain] as well?

LS: Well if he could find one second then yeah…

Q: Could it be the case that Williams changed the concept of the car so much you still don’t know the way around to find the set-up and the balance, things like that?

LS: I would like to think so. I would hope so because then it’s just a matter of maybe the next race we’ll figure it out. If we knew the answers we would apply it to the car and it would work. At the moment we scrape everything out of it.

In Australia we’re P13, [in Bahrain] between me and my team mate it’s less than one tenth and we both feel like we’re on edge every single corner. And that’s the worse thing is we are on edge and it just makes it that much easier to make a mistake. So it’s a snowball effect. We have a difficult car to drive which makes it easier to make mistakes, and at the same time there’s no room for error.

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Comment of the day

Whether Ferrari walking out of F1 is a serious threat is something we’re likely to hear more about in the coming weeks. Here’s @Eljueta’s take:

I don’t think Ferrari is going anywhere.

They of course have to threaten it, not to lose the sweet deal they had until now. But I don’t see an alternative for them that wouldn’t cost them either a lot of money or have enough visibility.

I for one couldn’t care less, as long as we still have 20 cars, I don’t care who makes them, if the drivers and racing are good.

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  • 56 comments on “Inexperienced drivers not holding Williams back – Stroll”

    1. I haven’t heard anyone say it’s from inexperience. Just that the Williams drivers suck.

      1. @darryn +1

        And Lance should be very upset about how badly Williams are spending his Dad’s money. Or maybe Stroll Sr. just isn’t spending enough.

        1. Yes. $80M isn’t enough. Williams should ask for twice as much for development and for paying a good driver as Stroll teammate. But Stroll should’ve get full refund if Williams build embarrassing car like this time.

          1. @ruliemaulana – Refund? No refund! No returns! ;-)

      2. Maybe they do but the car blows and Williams only has itself to blame for going down without giving a lick. About fielding proven drivers, that is. Just a a big tease really.

        1. And I believe that Felipe usually found 1 sec in Qualifying compared to Lance?

          1. @mmertens
            Well, not usually. That was the case in 3 of the last 5 races (4, if you count Brazil, where the gap was 0.987 seconds), plus a handful of others. Their average gap was circa 7 tenths, so not quite a full second.
            I tend to agree with Stroll here. The car looks shockingly bad, and it stands to reason that Massa’s presence in the team wouldn’t be enough to do anything significant about it.
            While I argued after Melbourne that Massa’s usual advantage of 7 tenths would’ve resulted in a similar grid position as in 2017, when he was best of the rest, Williams were so far off the pace in Barain that a hypothetical Super Massa (it’s-a me, for sure), being a full second faster than Stroll, would’ve barely made it into Q2, which is still a far cry from Williams’ 2017 Bahrain form (P8 and P12 in qualifying, P6 in the race).

            Stroll might be as bad as he was in 2017, but the car is so bad that even a much better driver would struggle to score any points with it.

      3. Beat me to it. It’s not inexperience, it’s just the fact that they’re rubbish.

      4. I bet Pierre Gasly would drag that Williams out of Q1.

        And he is not very experienced.

        When did Pay driver focused team go up in championship standings?

        Maybe when Ferrari had pay driver Alonso supported by Santander? Oh wait even they declined. Whenever a team picks a driver based on money and not pure sporting performance, things are going south already. Their two drivers are by far not spectacular. Howcome only RedBull can get spectacular drivers in? Howcome Ocon was stolen by Force India?

        Williams brings in these decent youngsters with spectacular cash behind them, but results are anything but amazing.

    2. Are the wheel guns designed to automatically avoid cross threading? I have no idea how one would make something like that, but if anybody is capable of designing such a tool it would surely be an F1 team.

      But again with this idea of returning to lollipops as though they were really any safer. And it’s not as though all of the mistakes were even computer errors, I noticed when the second Haas car went the mechanic had already given the signal to go only to then realise the problem, by which point the light was green

      1. Instead of alignment studs for the wheel, they had T-studs that was self locking for the wheel rotation. It would not matter if the nut fell off. It would enable the car to limp back to the pits to have a nut fitted.

        But how easy the wheel comes off in the pits is a question of design.

      2. My personal method has always been to spin the nut one or two times in the wrong direction until you feel the thread “drop” into place, then spin it forward. That could probably be programmed into a wheel gun, but it would make it significantly more complicated (and thus prone to failure).

        I’m not sure why they’re using a nut, though– I would think a splined shaft and a spring (or hydraulic) activated locking mechanism would work just as well, especially if you have an interlock that only allows the wheel to be unlocked when the suspension is unloaded.

      3. Exactly. The lollipop wasn’t safe. It’s normal for people to feel people are safer than technology but it’s not true. They need to work on making the technology more accurate but you can do that in a logical fashion.

        Yes there are problems but there were loads with a man full of adrenaline holding a stick as well…

      4. @strontium, I agree that people seem to be putting out the idea of going back to a lollipop man, but are offering no justification for why that would be any safer – it feels more like a suggestion that’s being made because “that’s what we did in the past” and it ties in with the rising wave of technophobia within the sport.

        After all, as I’ve pointed out in the past, we saw similarly serious incidents where a mechanic was run over or knocked to the ground when the person manning the lollipop gave the order to let the car go at the wrong time – just think back to, say, Yamamoto in the 2010 Italian GP, where he knocked a mechanic to the ground (though fortunately that mechanic was not seriously injured) because of such as mistake.

        Just think, meanwhile, about the number of times we’ve seen mechanics being knocked over when operating a refuelling rig during the refuelling era when the mechanic with the lollipop board didn’t realise that the nozzle was stuck and let the car go.

        As you note, either system is still reliant on the other mechanics noticing that they’ve made a mistake first, since a person manning the pit board can’t always tell whether everything has gone correctly and has to rely on what the other mechanics are telling him. In the case of the Haas wheel nut problems, as you say, the mechanic probably would have still given given the sign that the wheel was attached and the person manning the lollipop board would probably have still let them go.

        We have also seen accidents being caused where the lights system was actually working correctly, but the mechanics chose to override it and manually switched it to green. The 2008 Singapore GP comes to mind – the refuelling rig accident with Massa occurred because the lead mechanic switched the lights to green, rather than waiting for the automatic signal from the refuelling rig, so that accident was down to human error rather than a system error.

        Maybe that could even be something that Keith addresses in a future article – a quick comparison of the accident rates for teams with and without using the traffic light system, as I suspect that the accident rate would probably be just as high as with the traffic light system (it’s just that, rather than an accident with a tyre, it’d probably be mostly mechanics being knocked over with the refuelling hose given that the more recent accidents occurred during the refuelling era).

      5. @strontium – well said re. the return to lollipops.

        I’d await the FIA finding to see if this was due to a fixable glitch/design issue, or an insurmountable technical problem before passing judgement. But yes, the number of kneejerk responses on the internet to “lollipop men were better, human in the loop, etc.” feels like technophobia, as anon nicely stated above.

    3. Not holding back, but it does not help!

    4. I wish Williams will put Robert in FP1 just to answer a few questions…

      1. Williams have dug themselves into a wretched hole. If they put a top flight driver in their car and he’s immediately a second or more up on Lance, then they risk embarrassing Lance and his dad. Doubtless there are contractual clauses preventing that sort of thing. I can only assume that Williams was desperate for the Stroll money a couple of years ago, and now that decision to accept it – and the terms – is hurting the team badly. With Martini gone they are even more dependent on the Stroll cash. What a predicament! Williams the new Minardi.

        On the other hand, if Stroll senior were to put in considerably more cash, the car would go faster and young Lance could bag a few podiums (next year).

        1. Considerably more is what? 200-300 million per year? Or even more for a podium?

        2. money doesn’t buy talent. put stroll in a Mercedes, and he will still be far too slow.

        3. No amount of extra money is going to make Stroll fast enough to ever be competitive, and as long as they are worried about the 2nd driver showing him up Williams are in big trouble.
          If they don’t find a decent sponsor to replace Martini and bridge the next 2 years, Papa Stroll is going to end up owning this team … bought on the cheap because of his son’s desire to play real-life F1 driver instead of e-sports like the other kids.

      2. Kubica will be in FP1 at Barcelona, but his times will not be representative, he will be working on validating simulator work and car setup. Sirotkin will then jump into a better prepared car.

    5. Regarding the Reuters-article: The people who’d buy a ticket for a Motorsport event only to attend a separate event that isn’t even related to the main event (in this case concert) should after that just give them away to someone who’d actually go to the event the ticket is essentially for to avoid impacting the actual race crowds unnecessarily.

      1. @jerejj – I could be wrong, but I got the impression that it was a Saturday-only ticket that covered the qualifying + concert (in that order). So it would require a music fan to hand over the ticket for a friend to attend qualifying, and then somehow meet him/her to collect the ticket and enter for the concert.

        It does beg the question why do they want to try and force the issue by mixing two very different events on the same ticket! But hey, it increasingly feels like I’m no longer the target demographic for Liberty (i.e. too old), and was considered too young (and poor) by Bernie’s FOM!

        1. Born too late too explore the world, born too soon to explore the galaxy

    6. Q: So Felipe couldn’t get out of Q1 [in Bahrain] as well?

      LS: Well if he could find one second then yeah…

      Seriously? Massa was 7 tenths faster than him last year, somehow I’m skeptical he improved more than 1 tenth! Take a top driver and you have your second margin!

      1. What’s more probable, that Stroll improved 0.7s or that Williams builded a car that’s 0.7s slower.

        1. Basil (@flyingbasil)
          12th April 2018, 10:19

          Williams obviously. The car is all over the place with both drivers in the car. It looks like the car is unsettled every time u hit the brakes, yet is slow out of the corners and lacks top speed.
          And remember, Sirotkin was pretty good in his GP2 time, so there is maybe 3-4 tenths, maybe 0.5 if u put Hamilton in, but thats still crap.

    7. Quick Calc – *Excludes testing pre 2017*, driver pairings km’s on track in an F1 car.
      Ferrari – 134,817 km
      Merc – 98,298 km
      RBR – 58,937 km
      Renault – 58,285 km
      FI – 53,898 km
      HAAS – 48,336 km
      Sauber – 22,169 km
      Williams – 11,269 km
      Torro Rosso – 7,223 km

      My opinion, Williams need an old head in the race seat. The STR pairing have natural talent, and Hartley has experience that isn’t reflected in these numbers.

      1. Interesting stats – do you have the breakdown for Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Vettel? OMG – these are the “old men” of the sport!

        1. @phylp yep, also thanks for reminding me about McLaren… I forget about them these days. They sit at 90,079km.

          Take into account that these number disregard all testing prior to 2017, purely because I didn’t have time to go back through Raikkonnen’s history.

          ALO – 81,645
          RAK – 74,045
          HAM – 63,804
          VET – 60,772
          PER – 41,434
          RIC – 39,788
          HULK – 39,201
          BOT – 34,494
          GRO – 33,670

          1. Williams specifics:

            STR – 9,297 km
            SIR – 1,971 km
            KUB – 21,681 km

            KUB comes in around the same km on track as SAI at 19,083 km & VER 19,149 km.

          2. Great stats – thanks!

      2. This analysis, while interesting, is an example of “survivor bias”. The best drivers persist in the sport and therefore have the highest cumulative miles. If you had two “Verstappens” in a team, and the team built a decent car, your correlation of cumulative miles versus on-track performance would fall apart as the “Verstappen” team would be a severe outlier.

        1. The stats don’t serve as an analysis of a teams likelihood of success. Merely showing the level of experience in each team, as far as knowledge and understanding of the particular machinery. When it comes to developing a car I would much prefer an old head with. That’s not to say it’s the only factor that will effect the speed of the car, but they have a greater ability to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the car, and rely on previous experience to understand the right path for development. A ‘decent’ car only exists with driver input and a cursory understanding of the engineering behind the vehicle mechanics.

          1. Also, adding hypothetical data to provide a desired result isn’t really the point of stats.

    8. Instead of changing the pitstop light system why not go down the proven track and build a cage around each mechanic :p

      1. And the other standard F1 solutions might work as well:
        – louder PU so the mechanics can hear when the car leaves.
        – VSC for every pitstop with reduced pit lane speeds.
        – or use those track limit loops with responders in the mechanics’ shoes.

        1. The engines are loud enough for them to need hearing protection, there are no doubts about when the driver steps on the throttle.

          Speeds in pitlane is already reduced to under vsc levels.

          Track limit loops doesnt change where or when the car drives, only the steeringwheel and throttle does that.

          1. Both of Egonovi’s comments were tongue-in-cheek, @rethla

            He’s drawing parallels to some of the decisions being made in F1 such as the halo (cage around the mechanic), the call for more noise (louder PU), etc.

          2. In order to Reduce costs i think each driver should only be allowed 7 Tyres for the season, this way also no Mechanics get hurt

            1. just 4 and bolt them on.

            2. what about 8 tyres per race, but in two different cars and they have to jump from one to the other?

              Also each car only has fuel to do half race’s distance?

              Someone should make a series like that

            3. @johnmilk also reintroduce rotating blades fixed to the rims while we’re at it- gotta protect these precious tyres

            4. @mrboerns reintroduce? What have you been watching? I want some of that

            5. I think it was back when Charlton Heston was driving

      2. A simpler solution is mandate all cars stop for a minimum time that covers 90% of the times taken by cars at a pit stop. Hopefully that will enable the computers or the person who controls the lights to decide the other 10% of situations. For example, if 90% of the cars change their wheels within 4 seconds, then that is the time a red light should be displayed to the driver. It seems to me racing changing tyres doesn’t work, so F1 needs to mandate a minimum pit stop time.

    9. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      12th April 2018, 9:21

      I think the main point is that inexperienced drivers isn’t what is Williams biggest problem. Which I think I agree with. It is very unlikely that Stroll won’t be at least a bit better this year that the last but that Williams just looks terrible to drive. But these drivers will be limiting a fair bit of what it can do. But I do think the biggest problem is the car. I don’t understand how it has gone so far backwards since 2014.

    10. Reading the line above “Further issues for discussion included the FIA’s commitment to policy development on Gender Equality, Anti-Doping and Betting.”

      Made me think what if teams had to have a male and female driver? That would be extremely interesting to see how far behind, or ahead the females are compared to the males at different tracks.
      Or what if they had a third car and driver, which needs to be female. They all race at the same time against each other, obviously.

      Then reality kicked in and asked awkward questions like, how do you determine some is male or female in this day and age of gender-fluidity?

      1. Then reality kicked in and asked awkward questions like, how do you determine some is male or female in this day and age of gender-fluidity?

        Hehe, I can just see Dr Marko signing up his “underperforming” drivers (Kvyat, Vergne etc.) for gender reassignment to get that 3rd seat.

      2. unfortunantly the females would be behind, purely from lack of experience, they never get the same chances as males in junior series. the male/female teams have to start in karting, formula ford etc.

    11. OK Lance.

    12. f1 needs to put a cost cap on PAY DRIVERS, ie they cant bring in more than 1 million dollars, that way maybe pay drivers will be exciled for ever. disgusting to think in the top level series in motorsport Williams has 2 drivers that would never ever reach f1 on merit.

    13. In combination with the more balanced money distribution, they are talking about, I very much like this idea.

      1. Meant as a reply to kpcart.

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