Lance Stroll, Force India, Yas Marina

Stroll takes the final place on the 2019 F1 grid at Force India

2019 F1 season

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Esteban Ocon will be replaced at Force India by Lance Stroll, whose father led a consortium which purchased the team in August.

The move has been expected since Stroll had a seat fitting at the Force India factory three months ago. The 20-year-old has taken the final place on the grid for the 2019 F1 season.

Stroll described the move as “the beginning of an incredibly exciting journey in my Formula One career.

“I look forward to working alongside a successful team with a great culture. It’s a new challenge and I am excited to embrace this new opportunity.”

Stroll made his F1 debut with Williams last year following a lengthy private test programme in the team’s cars. He and his father have been dissatisfied with the team’s performance since joining them, as Williams fell from fifth in the championship in 2017 to 10th – and last – this year.

Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer said: “I’m pleased that we can finally confirm Lance’s arrival to race alongside Sergio next year.

“It gives us an exciting line-up with the perfect blend of youth, talent, and experience. Lance is only 20 and already has two years of Formula One experience under his belt, as well as a podium finish and a front row start.

“We see huge potential in Lance and believe we can create an environment in which he can flourish. Our team has enjoyed great success nurturing and developing young and talented drivers, and we are very excited to begin our journey with Lance.”

Ocon, who has become Mercedes’ reserve driver, is one of six drivers who will be replaced during the off-season. Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne, Brendon Hartley, Marcus Ericsson and Sergey Sirotkin will also not be racing in F1 next year.

“I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Esteban Ocon for his contribution to the team over the last two seasons and wish him well for the future,” added Szafnauer.

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Lance Stroll, Force India, Yas Marina
Stroll tested for Force India in Abu Dhabi

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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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80 comments on “Stroll takes the final place on the 2019 F1 grid at Force India”

  1. I did not see this one coming . . .

    1. All we need now are the racing numbers for Kubica, Russell, Albon & Norris, the new name of Force India and then the grid is complete.

      1. Kubica is 40 & Russell is 43?

      2. Russell will be 63. It works surprisingly well with his personal “GR” logo.

        1. My guess is 47 for Norris.

    2. Was it a 15 year contract?

  2. Oh my god, that was unexpected!

  3. That beard is… yikes…

    1. I think the beard looks good on him. Makes him look less like a child and more like an adult who’s using all the advantages he has within his reach to full effect, in order to achieve his life’s goals.

      I’d like to give Lance the benefit of the doubt and remember that he is only 20 and has a lot of personal growth to come; he may surprise us all.

      1. The best surprise he could spring would be to resign his seat in favor of Ocon. He may even earn respect from both drivers and fans.

        1. Not any more, after brazil IMO stroll is more deserving.

        2. Why Ocon don’t have a podium ? Oh yes cause he is crash prone, nice guy but overrated by sky commentators

          1. Ocon doesn’t have a podium because he has never driven for MB, RB or SF.

  4. Finally about time. One of the worst kept open secrets ever is now finally officially out. That beard, though.

  5. What a surprise /s.

  6. Money money money….

    1. I doubt there is any money involved; Stroll stops being a paydriver ;)
      We could call him a nepodriver though.
      Or advancing in the family business starting at the bottom; i.e. the most dangerous job.

      1. ^
        I think a year to two in “The Team” & then he can have a sabbatical…..
        trim the beard…, do a bit of modeling & roll back into the Team in one of a number of positions….PR man may suit him,as he does come across well with the media.

  7. Big mistake. LS is a good starter other than that he is just s..t. Ask your self would he be racein without daddys cash. I hope am wrong but only time will tell.

  8. Stephen Higgins
    30th November 2018, 14:26

    Something tells me when Kubica passes him on track next year there will be an almighty cheer …

    1. I’m now rooting for Williams to beat Force india next year. I know it’s a tall order.. But it’s not impossible.
      The look on Lance’s face if that happens… Priceless!

  9. Dropped my Monocle in shock and it broke. Is this site liable for compensation?

    1. It was probably Ericsson’s fault.

      1. I didn’t see the incident but I’m going to say Grosjean.

    2. No, Race Fans will use one of their “out clauses” to avoid paying out, e.g. saying monocles are parse.

  10. Stroll as a Force India driver wont last very log … because the team will have a different name next year :-D

  11. you guys know me, and I’m not the type of person that likes to create any sort of conflict, *chuckles*, and this is certainly not intended to do that. But! If we were to put Stroll next to Ocon, or better yet, if we would be reading this news, and the driver being given a seat was Ocon, could have we read this:

    Ocon is only 20 and already has two years of Formula One experience under his belt, as well as a podium finish and a front row start.

    We couldn’t could we?

    1. georgeboole (@)
      30th November 2018, 20:37

      @johnmilk we couldn’t.
      Its just the way this guy has climbed up the ladder and i know we all agree on that. I just hope Stroll is not such a mess or his dad will fire him and get Ocon instead

    2. We can say Ocon has crash every single car in the grid at one time or another

  12. I actually feel sorry for both of them.

    Ocon as he will be not driving F1 next year, when if given an equal car I think he would challenge Max. Gasly gets a drive in a top car, and thats great for him, but I think Ocon and Max next year may have been a better battle. Gasly will be great, but give him a year.

    Lance Stroll in that photo looks crap- tired and bags under his eyes. He was either out sucking tequila with Checo, or is just a young man under pressure. Either way whatever the guy achieves in F1 will be just perceived as his dad is rich.

    Seems loose:loose to me.

    1. It was Ocon’s own decision though not to take the Red Bull offer. Most likely in a STR car; buy than can change any race. @garns
      And then suddenly this offer evaporated after Brazil.

      whatever the guy achieves in F1 will be just perceived as his dad is rich

      Not sure how his father’s riches got him the podium and front row start :P
      His driving skills might not resemble the brightest bulb in a shed full of sharp tools, but I’ve seen worse (even amongst the 2018 drivers).

        1. Ericsson (taking into account his years of experience) and maybe Hartley.
          And then I’m kind to Stoffel, and trust that Fernando was Superlonso this year which caused the big gap between them.

          1. @coldfly

            Don’t think Ericcson was that bad this season. He actually put in a lot of strong performances.

            Hartley was poor, but then again it was his first full season in F1, while Lance was on his second.

            I’d still have to give the worst driver of the year award to Lance. He actually moved backwards from last season… Which i didn’t think was possible.

          2. I try to rate drivers purely on the performance of this year; irrespective of tenure, age or experience.
            e.g. I don’t think it’s correct to rate Leclerc #1 this year (very strong races as a young rookie) and see him fall down the ranking next year even if he races as good as he did this year (with the rookie and poor car shine gone).

            But having said that I haven’t made up my mind yet (will do some revisiting). But Hartley, Ericsson, Vandoorne, Sirotkin, Stroll will probably occupy the lower echelons in some order.

          3. @coldfly

            I cut rookies a little slack because there is a learning curve for them. They have to get to grips with a new racing series, new crew and new way of working. They just have a lot more on their plate than their experienced teammates. All of this does affect their on track performances.

      1. Exactly this, it’s like the guys who keep on harping about the Hulk while Perez who was scoring podiums along side him.

        Stroll got a podium on merit something Ocon hasn’t managed but somehow its his Dads money.

        1. To be fair, Stroll’s podium was obtained on the freakiest race from the last 4 years, it was a good achievement for sure, but it doesn’t mean to me he is a driver who can drive consistently to achieve podiums by his superior skills. I cannot see any outstanding drive for him in two years, only that great qualifying performance at Monza. But for me it’s not enough for being in F1. Like I said many times, to me he’s a kind of Nelson Piquet Jr, there are skills there, but the money talked thru all their career. Solely on skills, both wouldn’t have made to F1.

          1. Maldonado even won a race, 1 good race doesn’t make a career.

          2. @mmertens

            That’s what you do when you are not in a front running car score big in a freaky race.

          3. @lancer033

            Maybe you need to check how many drivers have won a race and how hard it is to win a race before you actually dismiss a race win like that.

        2. @rockie

          Come on dude… Did you even watch Baku last year? The race was a lottery. The only noteworthy moment in his entire career was his qualifying at Monza last year. Even his race at Monza was fairly poor.. As Massa was quicker and on his tail by the end of the race despite his starting position.

          His dad might not have bought him a podium and a front row start, but he bought Lance a seat in F1 and to ensure his son stays there despite his performance levels.. He bought him a team.

          Do you actually think Lance is on the 2019 grid on merit?

          1. @todfod

            It still amazes him this merit thing everyone gets on the grid through their sponsor, so why is Stroll different.
            It’s like going to school a student sponsored by his father is no different from someone on scholarship by some else.
            Like Maldonaldo this guys somehow after all the the flak still leave this teams with their best result in the period.

          2. @rockie

            There are drivers who get in to the sport through sponsors (pay drivers) but how many of them get upgraded to a better team despite poor performances? Getting your dad to buy you an F1 so you can get a better drive is ridiculous. I don’t how you can defend that.. It’s like a slap in the face of F1 if you ask me.

      2. @coldfly Incorrect. It was purely Red Bull’s choice not to even really consider him due to his Mercedes-links. Ocon himself didn’t turn it down. STR would’ve become an option for him had Mercedes been willing to let him go.

      3. @coldfly
        When did Ocon get a Red Bull offer? They said no I thought?

        “whatever the guy achieves in F1 will be just perceived as his dad is rich”
        You are not understanding my quote me here mate- I wasn’t having a go at Lance Stroll, opposite really. I was saying even if he over achieves people will say its because he is in money- I was not having a go at him.

        His skills and a bit of luck got him a podium in Baku- but his Dad having money did give him an easier path to F1.
        He is at a top team next year and Checo is quick-real quick. Lets see how he fairs- its f1!

        1. @garns,
          The ‘offer’ (maybe technically not an offer as mentioned by @jerejj) was done by Dr Marko; I believe in a TV interview.
          He first stated that they would consider him if he were to ditch his Mercedes ties.
          When pushed if he would want him as a driver, he said ‘yeah’.
          It was Ocon who decided to stay under the umbrella of Mercedes hoping on a Williams drive (or a Bottas boot).

          A Red Bull contract would most likely mean an STR drive though.

  13. Wha…..
    *Look of disbelief*

  14. Slightly sad that in a summer of unprecedented change in F1 seats and such a competitive driver market, the worst driver in F1 by a comfortable margin gets to improve on his current seat.

    1. I wouldn’t call Formula E an improvement

      1. He’s going to IndyCar @johnmilk

        1. @coldfly When I saw the notification, the comment that popped into my mind was:

          “a Formula E is an improvement to the 2018’s McLaren”

          you would have won the internet

          1. @coldfly @johnmilk I strongly disagree with you, but would invite you to expand on this in the Driver Rankings thread ;-)

          2. Thanks, @hahostolze.
            Need to sleep on it for a few nights, but will add my views there.

      2. @johnmilk – sly, but probably true!

      3. Vandoorne is probably better than half the drivers who stay in F1. His is a sad tale of lack of confidence, but definitely not lack of talent.

        1. He had two years to show it, but he didn’t, actually performed worse in the second year. It is a bit hard argue in his favour, especially when he had a string of results where he was last, even fighting with the Williams. I would place him last in the rankings

    2. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      30th November 2018, 17:24

      The worst driver by a comfortable margin in F1 has now been dropped by Torro Rosso.

  15. Stevie Wonder just called to say he loves you. And he saw that coming.

  16. Perhaps in a Force India he’ll have moments to shine and show that he’s a pretty decent F1 driver after all.

    To be honest though I hope Perez destroys him and I shall giggle madly whenever Kubica overtakes him.

  17. Insert surprised Pikachu.

  18. Doesn’t matter how much Stroll gets hated for buying his way into F1, it’s quite admirable that he stuck with William for 2018 season to the end before making the switch.

    1. Complicated contracts + poor PR + his Dad had spent all the spare change on Racing Point.

  19. If he struggles against Perez then people will be saying it proves he isn’t that good & doesn’t belong in F1.

    If he is evenly matched with or even manages to regularly beat Perez then people will be saying it’s only because his dad own’s the team & Lance is getting preferential treatment.

    1. Yep. For what it’s worth, I think he’s actually turning out to be a reasonably competent driver. A journeyman, as they used to say. Given how terrible the Williams was this year, he had some decent finishes and finished ahead of Brendon Hartley in the championship. And nobody doubts Brendon’s skill, or the STR13’s pace. Certainly Hartley was desperately unlucky, with five retirements to Lance’s two, but Stroll finished ahead of him on several occasions as well.

      Of course there are guys who “deserve” to be in F1 more than him – you only have to look at the man he’s replacing for that – but he’s not bad. I honestly don’t believe a team like Williams would have given him the drive, all his dad’s money notwithstanding, if they’d thought he’d be an embarrassment. And, looking at it objectively, he really wasn’t.

      I think I’ve said this before: he reminds me a lot of Pedro Diniz, another man who was ridiculed as a “pay driver” when he started out but, while he’ll never be counted among the greats, gained some grudging respect over the years.

  20. I’m fond of both Ocon and Stroll, so although Lance to Racing Point is not exactly news, it’s really a mixed bag for me. I’m happy to see Lance in a good position for next year, but I will miss Esteban greatly…hope he at least comes back to Formula 1.

  21. Who’d you rather see in Force India: Ericsson or Stroll?

  22. Lance will NOT race for Force India — he will race for
    Racing Point F1

    The official FIA 2019 entry list is out and they have dropped Force India from the team name.
    2019 FIA Formula One World Championship Entry

    1. What a lame name – they should have been TEREX Motorsport

  23. Oh well. I expect this to be his last F1 season..

  24. Williams managed to lose him to a team with a much smaller budget.

  25. Not unexpected but still disappointing.

  26. Stroll got that seat purely because of his skill.
    “Youth, talent and experience” – I guess, talent and experience are describing Kubica, while “youth” is the only thing they can think of when describing Stroll.

  27. Ocon – It’s hard to pass judgement on these young drivers as they are always crashing into each other and most of the rest of the grid.

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