Lance Stroll, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Williams’ backward step “very shocking” – Stroll

2018 Chinese Grand Prix

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Lance Stroll admitted he was shocked how badly Williams struggled in Bahrain.

Stroll was unable to beat his qualifying time from last year. The team’s best effort was 1.3s slower than they managed 12 months ago.

“In Bahrain it was very shocking how big a step backwards we took,” said Stroll. “I was four tenths slower than I was last year.

“Everywhere we’re losing: on the straights, we improved a little bit in the corners but not even close to the extent we were working for.”

The team were far less competiteive in Bahrain than they had been in the first race of the season.

“In Australia we improved the lap time a little bit compared to last year when Felipe [Massa] was in Q3. So it’s a bit up and down.

“It’s very early days. There’s still 19 races to go and there’s a lot to look at and a lot to understand before we even come to a conclusion.”

Shanghai could be a better venue for Williams, Stroll said. “Last year we were quite competitive here. Both of us were in Q3.

“I’d like to think that’s a positive coming into this year. But at the same time I’m not stupid and I know the others have made massive steps forward compared to a year ago, not only in car performance but in engine performance.

“So in all areas it’s a completely different category competition level than 12 months ago. I know that, but still if we could do that again [reach Q3], which I’d always like to think is possible, that’d be great. It’s a new circuit, different conditions to Bahrain, so everything’s possible.”

In Australia Stroll’s engine over-heated during a practice start. This prevented him from using it to its maximum in the race in order to preserve it for future use. For the same reason in Bahrain its performance was also constrained, but to a much lesser extent. The team expect he will be able to run it as normal from this weekend.

Look out for RaceFans’ exclusive interview with Williams’ deputy team principal Claire Williams coming soon.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 46 comments on “Williams’ backward step “very shocking” – Stroll”

    1. Stroll last year didnt show any signs of big improvement thoughout the season (In fact his last races were poor), and i wonder how much of their poor showing so far, is down to their struggle in finding a proper set up for the car.
      Felipe was obviously very experienced & he was able to set up the car correctly at every venue last year (even at Spa when he lost the whole Friday he was a second faster in Q1), so i tend to believe that both drivers havent been able to find the right setup.
      The FW41 might not be the easiest car to drive,especially for 2 inexperienced drivers, but i dont believe that either of the 2 current drivers are close to taking the maximum out of thr car & someone like Massa would fight with McLaren-Force India.

      1. Indeed, very reasonable imo, and a top driver would fight to get into q3, which given what alonso is doing with mclaren suggests williams might be a better car than mclaren for now.

        Mclaren are in crisis as well ofc, but at least they sacrificed money to try and improve the engine situation and they hire decent drivers, not pay drivers.

    2. Because you and your partner “bought” the seat.
      It would not be a problem if, at least, you are able to give your engineers o good technical feedback that will allow them to develop the car…one thing that Felipe Massa, even though he was not as fast as he used to be between 2006 and 2008, he was known to be a really good car developer.

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      12th April 2018, 20:08

      Again Williams needs to get a driver to benchmark the car – that’s either Button or Massa since obviously Seb or Fernando can’t do it for them. I forgot Nico Rosberg…

      Otherwise every comment about performance from Lance is just the same as saying Stroll, Stroll, Stroll… Going for a stroll!

      1. @freelittlebirds

        They could start with a Wehrlein or Kvyat too. My guess is that Williams are similar to Force India on pace, and a decent margin ahead of the Saubers. I think Williams didn’t realise how competitive the mid field were going to be this year, and how Alfa was going to boost Saubers chances. Now only a miracle would help them from finishing in last position.

      2. They should not be this lost. I hope it is a driver issue, otherwise Williams will be dead last soon.

        1. I’m still not convinced another driver would make much difference, but forgetting that debate for a second, and just for the purpose of this conversation, why aren’t you folks suggesting Kubica, their reserve driver?

    4. Is it me, or does Lance Stroll give the impression that he isn’t a real team member of a racing team, but more a dissatisfied customer of a product he (or his father) has purchased

      1. On the nose!

      2. He had every right to complain. He won junior series. Pay Williams bill 80 millions a year. And what he got? A team who had no clue and a worst car in the grid.

        1. Are we all forgeting Lance is rich brat out of his depth in F1, a rich dad and money and having private track time ect ect, doesn’t buy TALENT!! His sister was bought a pop star career as well, and that is going about as well as Lance’s career…give Robert 5 races in the car and watch the improvement.

        2. Are you forgetting williams got 5th in the constructor championship last year?

          Even though the car is the most important thing, you shouldn’t discount driver’s importance when both of your drivers are 7 tenths + off the pace.

          Having said this, stroll scored 40 points last year I believe, I doubt he got worse, even without the baku exploit that’s 25 points for the rest of the season, so it was a car that was able to fight for the top 10 even with a bad driver, so I guess the car is worse than last year compared to the field, but much of the blame is on the drivers when there’s evidence they’re like 1 sec off the top drivers.

        3. @ruliemaulana
          The only problem with your statement is that they do not have the worst car on the grid. They do have the worst driver line up on the grid though. Heck, Lance paid to be in the sport, so he can let his talent shine and move up the F1 order. If he finishes last and shows no talent for the sport, he has no one but himself to blame. If drivers like Alonso, Webber, Bianchi and Ocon can shine in machinery worse than his, then maybe he needs to stop grumbling and take a long look in the mirror.

          1. @todfod
            You can say Stroll is a lousy driver even if he was the winner of F3 Europe just like Ocon, Rosenqvist, Leclerc (2nd) and Lando Norris. Even if you deny that Alonso in Australia quali with better engine only improve 1,8 seconds while Stroll improve 3 seconds. Even if Kubica was slower than Sirotkin while Stroll now on par with Sirotkin.

            One thing you couldn’t say is Williams not the worse car after what happen in Bahrain.

            1. @ruliemaulana

              Even if you deny that Alonso in Australia quali with better engine only improve 1,8 seconds while Stroll improve 3 seconds.

              I just looked up his qualifying performance from Australia to make a comparison. Lance did a 1:27.143 in Australia 2017 qualifying, while Felipe Massa did a 1:24.443. Yes…. Lance Stroll was 2.7 seconds behind his teammate In qualifying! I cannot remember any driver who has had that big a gap to his teammate in any qualifying session in recent history.

              Let’s say Lance was rubbish when he started last year, and Felipe performed above average that quali session. At the worst Lance should have gotten a 1:25.0 in qualifying last year. This year he clocks a 1:24.230. Which is less than an 0.8s improvement even if he did perform at a decent standard last year. Lance was just 0.2s faster than Felipe’s time of last year!

              You might say that Lance was a rookie last year.. etc. But Sirotkin is as well. He finished 0.7s behind his teammate as compared to Lance’s debut of 2.7 seconds slower than his teammate!

              I’m sure that Williams isn’t particularly good this year, but Stroll only makes them look much worse than they really are. I also think the team will only get worse if they have a driver of his calibre as team leader.

            2. @todfod As I say, you can say Stroll is a lousy driver. I’m not gonna argue with that. But Williams is the worse car this year, at least before we knew where they were this weekend.

            3. @ruliemaulana

              I don’t think they’re worse than Sauber.

        4. I disagree, he doesn’t have the right to complain, at least not to us. It could have been a bit difficult for him because he might have been asked direct questions, after all he did use a few bland phrases like “…a lot to understand before we even come to a conclusion”, so there is some attempt in this media session to not blame the team. Even so, instead of saying things like “In Bahrain it was very shocking how big a step backwards we took” he should have said something bland and meaningless like “In hindsight we realised our setup wasn’t aggressive enough”, “Everywhere we’re losing” should have been “We were surprised at how improved our immediate competitors are”.

    5. I think Williams’ lack of pace can’t just be attributed to Stroll and Sirotkin’s skill. They aren’t experienced enough yet to help the team develop the car. Even though Massa was long past his prime last year, he understood how the car enough to know what can be causing various problems with the car. He understood how to compensate for the car’s shortcomings and find time where someone like Stroll could not.

      I realize now that Kubica is far more important to the team than from a performance perspective (we already knew 2018 was more or less a lost year for Williams), although I doubt either Lance or Sergey could beat him outright.

      1. Williams kept Stroll on and employed Sirotkin and Kubica as well. Thus they believed at least one driver, if not all three, had the ability to help set up the car. I must admit I have no idea why some vehicles seem to ride better than others, so I can sympathise to a degree with Williams’ drivers, but setting up the car is part of their job. Like it or not, Williams designed this car to win races, it’s the drivers job to make that happen.

      2. @forzamaldonado

        I realize now that Kubica is far more important to the team than from a performance perspective

        Do we have necessary information/statistics to prove this or is it based on the fact that we like Kubica and have seen him drive in F1 earlier ? Just asking…

        1. No proof, just resonable assumptions.

        2. reasonable assumptions, he was the best driver in f1 in 2010 according to most polls and had a world championship coming his way, I don’t believe hes lost that.

    6. Peter Scandlyn
      12th April 2018, 20:36

      Nail and head….

    7. Stroll was a second per lap slower than Massa at the end of last year. It’s very doubtful he suddenly improved much over the winter. Now if Massa’s influence is gone and Kubica is relatively new to this formula and team (Felipe drove for three years already for the team and 10+ in F1 before joining them) still, two pay-drivers are even worsening the situation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Williams fighting with McLaren, Renault or Force India with Massa, roughly the same position he was in the second half of last year.

      1. Yeah they can say what they want, about unexperienced drivers not hurting their performance. But fact is then by their own admission: they are worse than last year.

      2. Yes, I think it’s a combination of both factors, I don’t think the car got slower than last year, nor do I think slower got worse than he was last year, but at best he will have made a slight improvement.

        The car must be slower than last year in relation to the field, with many teams who improved but the rest of the blame is on drivers who might indeed be 1 sec or thereabouts off the pace, remember massa was good but not a top driver either, any of ricciardo, hamilton, verstappen, vettel and alonso would extract even more from the same car.

        1. @esploratore

          I think we are getting carried away with the way Lance has driven over the last season. Agreed he paid for his seat, but that’s how the sport is. It either comes through your sponsors or from someone’s pocket.
          From the team’s perspective, they either take the money from Stroll and use it to run the team in F1 (or) use whatever money they have to pay better drivers (Massa, etc.).
          Here’s the catch–>Massa will give you valuable feedback but would they have enough money to make those developments that Massa suggests ? I don’t think so.
          This team is a now a work in progress and i am glad that Lance and Williams are open about their troubles. If they don’t do much by the summer break, then they will slip into the abyss.

          1. that’s why they should be putting Kubica into fp1 sessions instead of simulator work, he can better validate the simulator work – and help set up the car for the rookies, but it wont happen because of pay driver contracts that they wont brake.
            Money doesn’t buy talent, and even if the Williams was as fast at the Mercedes car, they would still be midfield with a driver like Stroll.

            1. Probably not midfield but just in virtue of the superiority of the top 3 teams, I think they have a margin of 1,5 sec on the rest of the grid, let’s say stroll would normally be in 6th place, holding off gasly, alonso or the likes, closer to them than the other top cars, on a mercedes.

    8. It’s hard to imagine they’d be as bad if they had Massa and Kubica as their race drivers.

    9. In the light of how much Williams is struggling this season and with their financial limitations preventing quick and steady development, I’m looking forward to reading the interview with Claire. With the withdrawal of Martini as their title sponsor in ’19 things look bleak since the 2021 budget cap Liberty desires is still a long way ahead.

      Paddy Lowe didn’t look too happy listening to whatever Lawrence Stroll had to say to him in Bahrain. Williams is trapped in a position where they are a customer team that also has to answer to his drivers/customers (to quote @neilsalton‘s reasoning). Tough spot.

      1. Pretty much… They may as well just calling them Stroll Martini Mercedes as they are the names calling the shots.

        Paddy Lowe was asked why Kubica wasn’t involved in some practices to help sort the car out and he said this:

        “Having two young drivers doesn’t make the task easier when the car doesn’t work,” Lowe said.

        We would be taking away important track time for Sergey and he needs every kilometre.”

        I think that pretty much sums it up!

        1. Stroll Martini Mercedes sounds accurate ;) And having Kubica but only in the simulator and the garage is a real shame. Williams’ ‘senior’ driver is only in his second season and he’s younger than their new & rookie driver, what an unfortunate combination for a car that needs urgent sorting. Interesting times ahead for Williams..

    10. They had to turn down the engine because it over-heated in practice and has to last… well, if you are going to start last anyway, just take the engine penalty and at least try to get points in the race, like McLaren was doing, no?

    11. Frank Williams has always taken more money out of the team than put in. This is the result.
      The romantic remark of Damon Hill (the last of the “garagistas”) is humbug: there are only 3 teams no “garagista”.
      Good luck, Paddy-all-time-Lowe. And I’m truly madly deeply sorry.

    12. If the car sucks important track time will not benefit anynody.
      Do you not think it is abit unfair to put the blame for williams woes on a 19 and 23 year old
      Many more people are involved in this mess. And without stroll money there might not have seen williams on the grid.
      Stroll will not support this lost cause much longer. They have to fix the car and fast and kubica is not the answer. Funny as this may sound lance stroll has more experience in this breed of f1 car than kubica. And nobody knows what input the drivers are bringing. It is just conjecture that it is none by the members of the kubica fan club. You should be happy he has a position at williams because renault didnt want him.

      1. Do you not think it is abit unfair to put the blame for williams woes on a 19 and 23 year old

        Not really. If you think about it, Williams have designed their car’s driving style around their ‘lead’ driver, Lance Stroll. If the lead driver is absolute rubbish, wouldn’t the car be kind of rubbish too? I don’t honestly believe that Paddy Lowe lost all his talent at making a competitive car within a season. Let’s not forget that Paddy’s cars have dominated F1 since 2014.

        Paddy’s used to working with professionals who know exactly what they want from the car and can give feedback for the direction of development. I really doubt thy get that from Stroll. As mentioned by someone in the post, Stroll looks like a dissatisfied customer more than a lead driver for Williams.

        1. Wasnt lowe working at williams last year. What has changed.

        2. That was at mercedes.

      2. and yet kubica was faster than stroll in testing.

    13. Spoken like a reputable & experienced F1 driver, except that he is clearly not!

      1. he is talking like he understands f1 cars, which he clearly doesn’t by his performances.

    14. Califormula1fan
      13th April 2018, 14:45

      Truly a sign of youth and inexperience on Stroll’s part. He’s dead last on the track; and his rookie team mate is out driving him.

      Shut up and drive Lance. You can be a whiner like Alonso after you’ve won at least a race, if not a championship.

    15. Hardly a shock. They are where they were pre engine rules change. The huge Merc advantage in 2014 brought them up. Signs were there when they allegedly were the ones seeking clarification on engine modes, they knew the engine advantage was dwindling, their car was pants and so were trying to scrape every advantage from the only good thing in their package…..the Merc engine. During the 80’s and 90’s I could not see them being out of contention for long they were formidable, McLaren too. To see the state of these 2 teams is shocking.

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