Lance Stroll, Williams, Shanghai International Circuit, 2018

Williams not expecting to repeat 2017 high in Baku

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Lance Stroll doubts next week’s F1 race in Baku will be as positive for Williams as his podium finish last year.

Last year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix saw Stroll become the only driver outside of the top three teams to stand on the podium all year.

The track’s long straights played to the strength of previous Williams cars due to their powerful Mercedes power units and low-drag designs. However the two FW41s were slowest through the speed trap during qualifying in Shanghai.

“With our current package and the nature of the track I don’t think we’re going to be nearly as competitive as we were last year,” said Stroll.

“I’d like to think we will be if we think of a few tricks before the weekend. But a lot of long straights which suited our car last year, this year we’re struggling in that area. But anything can happen, it’s racing.”

The team intends to bring a substantial upgrade in time for next month’s Spanish Grand Prix. Chief technical officer Paddy Lowe said it has already made some small gains with the car and is not getting ‘depressed’ about its situation.

“It’s about going away and analysing, understanding where you are and what you’ve got to do and focusing the organisation around that, which is exactly what we’re doing because we’re not where we hoped to be and intend to be in terms of competition.

“But it’s of our own making: clearly what we’ve done has not been good enough. We’ve made some small parts of this plan already deployed [in China] in terms of testing and evaluations we did which gave us a lot of information and data and including some improvements. It’s maybe not all that noticeable but there is some progress in the car that we ran in qualifying.

“Based on P3 performance there was some hope we might get at least one car in Q2. We narrowly missed that. I think there’s a sense of optimism already that we can make solid progress and we’ve already started down that road.”

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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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  • 21 comments on “Williams not expecting to repeat 2017 high in Baku”

    1. That plus the number of events required, it could have been a lot of people on that podium step last year. It appeared that Lance was at the right place at the right time but difficult to hand it only to Williams competitiveness (in the hand of Stroll anyway).

    2. Why not, it was a ridiculously lucky fluke, so that would mean it can happen again.

      1. They didn’t beat any of their last year’s results so far, thus pretty unlikely they’ll do it during their ‘lucky fluke’ race.

        Do you have something like a put option in betting?

        1. Well, the results of a previous race usually have no effect on the fluke in another one,…?

      2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        22nd April 2018, 17:13

        They were competitive all weekend even if the podium was a fluke

        1. I agree it’s not gonna happen this time, remember what alonso said at baku 2017? Something like “we could’ve won this race, what a shame” for honda engine, and got a 9th place; realistically he didn’t have any chance to win even with a better engine, but could’ve got more points, mclaren was one of the slowest cars last year at this point, they were clearly faster than sauber with alonso overtaking them and vandoorne chasing them, but think no other chars.

          At the same time, williams is at the bottom, can only compete with sauber and toro rosso, even in a fluke race the teams who should get a podium are others, mclaren, renault, haas or even force india, not williams.

    3. @flatsix – maybe, but he did keep his race clean when others did not.

      Some people don’t like him as he comes from money, and I get that. But look at his start last week with 6 places on lap one. Not a bad effort in the Williams that’s obviously struggling.

      1. @garns Stroll’s race pace is often quite good, and he matched Massa many times on raceday last year, with the highlights being Baku, Singapore, Monza, Sepang (better than Felipe here) and Mexico. It’s his qualifying pace that really lets him down.

        1. @neutronstar
          You chose rather poor examples:

          Baku

          Not on Massa’s pace. 4 seconds down after 11 laps, then came a series of interruptions that reset the gap. Stroll eventually overtook Massa at the final restart, but Massa’s was already driving with a broken damper at that stage.

          Singapore

          Only if you look at the laps in which Massa was left out on the track on full wets, lapping 10 seconds off the pace. But that was just the first part of the race. The rest of the race saw Massa going slightly faster than Stoll, eventually finishing the race at the end of the train of cars held up by Stoll.

          Monza

          His qualifying pace saved him for once there. Starting 2nd (Massa 7th), he saved a gap of 3 seconds over the first stint, but came under massive pressure from Massa in the seconds stint and had to spend at least the final 16 laps fending him off.

          Sepang

          That’s actually the first race in which Stroll was indeed faster. But with an obvious disadvantage for Massa, as he had floor damage from the first-lap tangle with Ocon.

          Mexico

          Yeah, but again due to unusual circumstances. After an early puncture, Massa had to drive almost the entire race on a set of Soft tyres, which were durable but also very slow. Stroll was able to stick to a normal strategy and skip the Soft tyres, going for Supersoft instead. Stroll’s tyres were almost 30 laps fresher after his one and only pit stop. Despite this massive tyre advantage, and the fact that Massa spent his race in heavy traffic, the gap only grew by 6.7 seconds over the final 37 laps (or 0.18 seconds per lap). Which looks a lot slower than permitted by the circumstances.

          Conclusion:
          He finished ahead of Massa in all of these races, but if you look at the circumstances of each race, he never matched Massa on pace, except maybe for situation in which Massa was clearly disadvantaged.
          However, I do think that his race pace was, relatively speaking, a lot better than his (abysmal) qualifying pace. But, crucially, not good, either.

          1. @nase I think your arguments are rather nitpicky. By “matched Massa’s pace”, I wasn’t suggesting that Stroll was right on par, but rather, I used those examples where he was respectably close enough to suggest that he indeed has the potential to drive the car at a decent pace. Unless you’d like to suggest that Massa was slow in those races, in those moments when lady luck was not making fun of him.

            I don’t agree with your point about Monza. He was slower than Massa in the second stint, but he himself was stuck behind Ocon for the most part. In Singapore, by your own admission, Massa was only “slightly” faster when he had the right tyres. Mexico was similar to Monza, with Stroll being stuck behind Ocon for most of the second half of the race (He caught up to the latter very quickly after his pitstop), so it is unfair to say that he was inferior to Massa there.

            All I’m saying is that I think Stroll has potential to be a decent enough driver. Maybe he’ll never be able to “match” Massa (who was a fast driver even in his twilight years), but he is not as abysmal and trash as people make him out to be, at least when it comes to race pace.

            And yes, I’m inclined to call his race pace “good” in those races, since I’ve always rated Massa as a really good driver.

            1. @neutronstar
              You dare call me nitpicky?!
              Wait, that’s actually true.

      2. @garns Iā€™m not saying anything about Stroll, the result in itself was a fluke, period. Whether Stroll was the next Senna or not has nothing to do with it.

    4. The Williams on Stroll’s hands is the quickest steering wheel. He laps the track twice over with his steering inputs.

      1. @peartree – Good one! Sawing the wheel is part of Williams secret energy recovery system. ;-)

        1. @jimmi-cynic too bad it’s only recovering negative energy.

          1. @peartree True. But, Claire can put a positive spin on it

    5. Non news

      1. Non comment

    6. What an awful place to be. They opted to sign another newbie bringing money and that’s fine.
      But they definitely picked the wrong time to change so many aspects of the car as the drivers won’t provide enough information to lead them to the right path.

      Now they have a weak pair of drivers and a dog of a car that they can’t understand.

      They are going to finish last this year. Martini chose the right time to leave the sinking boat.

    7. Does Stroll give an interview everyday omg

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