Lance Stroll, Williams, Red Bull Ring, 2018

2018 F1 driver rankings #18: Stroll

2018 F1 season review

Posted on

| Written by

Lance Stroll’s debut campaign in 2017 did little to quieten the debate over whether he owed his presence in Formula 1 more to his abilities or his billionaire father’s chequebook.

He might have taken a podium finish and a front-row start but these were the exceptions in a season where he was usually shown the way by Felipe Massa, a driver at the end of his F1 career.

With Massa replaced for 2018 by Sergey Sirotkin, a driver at the beginning of his F1 career, Stroll had an obvious chance to demonstrate he was decisively quicker than a less experienced rival.

In terms of outright speed there wasn’t much in it between the two Williams drivers. But the bottom line is Stroll wasn’t quite up to the standard of an older team mate with less F1 experience. Sirotkin out-qualified him 12-8, though Stroll averaged less than a tenth of a second per lap off his team mate. Nonetheless it was Stroll which gave the car its only Q3 appearance, at Monza.

Stroll made up his Saturday deficit as, for the second year running, he gained more places than any other driver on the first lap of races. However that was partly to be expected for the driver who had the worst average qualifying position of the year.

Lance Stroll

Beat team mate in qualifying 8/20
Beat team mate in race 10/17
Races finished 19/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate 598/1046
Qualifying margin +0.07
Points 6

Some of his starts were more ambitious than others. He picked up a drive-through penalty for a badly-judged move on Fernando Alonso in Austin, two weeks on from another clash with the McLaren driver at Suzuka where Stroll had also been at fault.

As far as Stroll’s performance compared to his other rivals is concerned, the shortcomings of the Williams FW41 proved a complicating factor. It was usually the slowest car, with a tendency towards turn-in instability which forced both drivers to compromise their approaches.

At some of the tracks where those shortcomings were less severe, Stroll scooped two of the team’s three points finishes. He dodged the Baku carnage to take eighth – he lost seventh to Alonso’s badly-wounded McLaren on the last lap – and led Sirotkin into the top 10 with ninth at Monza.

But the fundamental question of whether Stroll is quick enough over a single lap remains – which in turn leaves you wondering just how far off the pace the FW41 really was. His move to join Sergio Perez at Force India next year should offer a useful measure.

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

Over to you

Despite his poor machinery he did alright, slightly better than Sirotkin.

What’s your verdict on Lance Stroll’s 2018 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

Add your views on the other drivers here:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2018 F1 season review

Browse all 2018 F1 season review articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

47 comments on “2018 F1 driver rankings #18: Stroll”

  1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
    10th December 2018, 11:29

    He did well at Monza and Baku, but didn’t have that much of an edge on Sirotkin. He was bloody embarrasing in Monaco….

    1. People seem to forget his front row Q was because Verstappen and Ricciardo had grid penalties. This ment Stroll got to start 2nd

      1. No, no, no, the other Monza. He made it into Q3 this year, which was indeed a fine performance and not just a once-off oddity.
        But yeah, no one ever says ‘he qualified 4th’ when mentioning his qualifying performance in 2017.

    2. He did well at Monza and Baku last year as well, which suggests to me that his driving style is suited to those kinds of circuits. I reckon he could do well in Indycar, especially on those low downforce ovals because he seems out of his depth in F1.

      1. I don’t think he’s that bad, look at his race performance in 2017 against a pretty good driver, even if you take into account baku, he wasn’t so significantly off to be that bad of a driver as many people say, so I expect him to be quite competitive with perez; not in qualifying ofc, that’s stroll’s weakest spot.

  2. Stroll ranks below Hartley in my books. Thrashed comprehensively by Massa 17-4 in qualifying last year, and even a rookie team-mate had the upper hand this year again. I can foresee that he will have a difficult time to cope up with Perez next year at RPFI. I just hope, his billionaire father realizes sooner than the later this his dude is useless and is simply blocking the way for a more deserving talent.

    PS: Admittedly, I have never been a fan of his driving (and his backdoor entry to the F1 grid). So my comment may sound a bit biased to some.

    1. Thrashed comprehensively by Massa 17-4 in qualifying last year

      how many places should that cost him that on the 2018 ranking?

      backdoor entry to the F1 grid

      reigning F3 champion with more than 10 wins and a huge gap to #2.
      Even Verstappen hasn’t achieved that :P

      1. If you prefer selective reading, I couldn’t help much :D

        I know you have figured it out well that I just wanted to showcase his gradual progression (?) when I included that Massa bit.

        And we all know the reason behind his dominating victory in F3. When you have 10X budget compared to your rivals, can you expect fair competition?

        1. Or selective memory of what you actually wrote, @debapriya-deb.
          Let’s try it again based on what you “wanted to showcase”: How does the level of improvement vs 2017 impact 2018? The 2018 ranking is a stand-alone ranking!

          It’s a bit like when you buy a financial product; “past performance or historic results provide no guarantee of future returns.” :P

          1. @coldfly, my reference to 2017 was in the same vein what prompted Keith to write the opening sentence of this write-up – “Lance Stroll’s debut campaign in 2017”. There’s no more (or no less) to it.

            I have also mentioned about the upcoming season in my comment. Does that have anything to do with the 2018 rankings?

            What I precisely want to state is that my comment was not solely about 2018 rankings – it’s about his relative performance against team-mate(s).

            I don’t know why a competent individual like you is finding it difficult to understand the point that I am trying to convey :p


  3. He definitely improved on his rookie season as a driver but still not entirely convinced about his capabilities although, like Sirotkin, he couldn’t really do much with that uncompetitive machinery. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s going to fare out in an upper-midfield car against someone of Perez’s caliber next season.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      10th December 2018, 12:22

      It’ll be interesting to watch Perez vs Stroll. I’m not sure how pairing with Stroll benefits Perez. Even if he outqualifies Stroll 20-0 and gets 100% of the points for the team, it still won’t reflect positively on him, just negatively on Stroll.

      If Stroll comes close to Perez in qualifying or points, for any reason we can think of, t will probably destroy Perez’s reputation in the paddock.

      There’s really no tangible career upside for Perez racing on the same team with Stroll. I guess he had no other options. Will this be the first time a driver races against another driver whose family owns the team in F1? I wonder how the meetings will go – Perez sitting next to Stroll Jr and Stroll Sr.

      1. @freelittlebirds I disagree, because Perez (as does Stroll) will have every opportunity to impress us, or surprise us, or what have you, against other drivers on the grid too. Perhaps you would have a point if we only ever just compare those two drivers to each other, but that is not how it works. Both drivers will be working hard to do better than as many drivers and teams as they possibly can. If Perez utterly dominates Stroll as you suggest, that will mean he will also have bested several other drivers too, and that will be noticed by others within F1. If Stroll comes close to Perez in quali or points it will likely mean that it was the car after all for Stroll. Perez is not likely going to be fighting for the WDC, nor the team for the WCC, so at some point Perez will be limited as to what he can achieve. We all get that. But sure, Perez will not want to be bested by Stroll, just as no driver wants to be bested by his teammate, and given how Stroll has been coloured by his two Williams cars, that would not look good for Perez. One thing to keep in mind is that it is Stroll that is the newbie on the team where as it is Perez who is the engrained one, they with more data on him.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          11th December 2018, 12:55


          One thing to keep in mind is that it is Stroll that is the newbie on the team where as it is Perez who is the engrained one, they with more data on him.

          Yes, but it’s Stroll whose father owns the team, right? :-) He certainly wouldn’t want Perez to beat his son… I guess we’ll find out.

          1. @freelittlebirds It isn’t just Stroll, it is Stroll and a group of investors. I really doubt that he could get away with blatantly favouring his son and disfavouring Perez. If Stroll is actually as terrible as his terrible cars have made him look so far, they won’t be able to hide from that. The other investors will want progress and if they see Stroll as incompetent he’ll have to go eventually. I would think the investors would have raised those kinds of questions before buying in. If that sounds naive, hey I get that, but really could anyone really imagine Lawrence hanging onto Lance year after year if he was utterly poor? They’d be F1’s laughing stock. I’m sure Lance will have at least this year and next to show us something, and depending on how he does they’ll have to take it from there. I’m sure Lance will have some respectable showings as he simply will be in a far better car starting next year.

  4. Utterly pointless exercise, judging Stroll. He could keep being the worst driver in F1 for the next decade and maintain his grasp on a decent seat. Awful.

    1. Spot on @hahostolze. And that off-the-track manipulation is what makes it even more annoying than his equally dismal on-track performance.

    2. @hahostolze We don’t know that he is guaranteed a seat for life. Let’s start by seeing what he can do in a car that is not nearly so terrible. After all, even Alonso couldn’t perform miracles in a bad car. I suspect that even if Stroll is never going to be WDC material, he is likely much better than his equipment has shown, and I think he will show us that.

      1. @robbie

        Let’s start by seeing what he can do in a car that is not nearly so terrible.

        Well, for a start, he had the 2017 Williams to toy with, and other than one freak result in qualifying and two extremely lucky races in which he scored 50% of his career points so far, he was the ballast that dragged a perfectly competitive race car down, not the other way around.
        And now he’s barely outperformed (if you disregard qualifying) a rookie who, based on his previous results, was expected to be the next Senna by … circa zero people outside of Russia.
        For anyone whose dad doesn’t happen to contribute a large chunk of the team’s budget, if he doesn’t outright buy the thing, this would be more than enough of a reason to give him the boot.
        Without his dad’s billions, Stroll would have to take his sponsors to IndyCar, where he can join Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson in keeping the illusion alive that F1 rejects don’t quite take series by storm, ergo IndyCar must be equivalent to F1.

        But realistically, he’s a waste of a perfectly fine seat he never deserved, much less earned. The only reason why we should put up with this is the fact that it’s not our decision anyway.

        1. @nase Soooo….you’re on the fence when it comes to Stroll;)

          Not sure how the 2017 Williams could be considered ‘perfectly competitive’ and it seems the 2018 car was even worse, but hey as you say we have little choice in the matter. We can’t turn back the clock on the 17/18 results, and Stroll has an opportunity to show us something in what will presumably certainly be a better car than he has yet had in F1.

      2. @robbie
        What? Alonso had the best drives of his life in that dog of a car, did you miss that? ;)
        On a serious note he destroyed a real talent and managed a surprisingly high place in the WDC.

        How Stroll can be anything but last on these lists made by “F1 fanatics” is beyond me.

        1. @rethla Fair comment. If it takes a 2 time WDC that some consider better than LH to perform beyond a poor car’s limits, I’m not sure we should expect much more than we got from a relative rookie who has been in an even worse car. Lance will have a chance to show us that it was the car all along, or he’ll show us many of the posters around here are right about Stroll. I’m just not going to castigate him when we know the cars he’s had have been terrible and the car makes up the vast majority of the necessary ingredients for success.

  5. José Lopes da Silva
    10th December 2018, 13:03

    Stroll’s career is the most visible symbol that racing went for a toxic and unsustainable path.

    I hope he does bad. Because if he ever shows himself as a talent, dozens of billionaires will be convinced that you just need to pour in some billions of dollars to produce a new Fangio. And yes, if people think that the junior career path of Stroll can be hidden, it can’t.

    Either way, soon we’ll all have microchips and brain editing so the whole concept of sport will get a comprehensive refounding.

    1. That’s ridiculous. For one thing it has to start with a billionaire’s child loving cars and racing from as early as they can remember, like for Stroll. Nothing is new in this concept other than there are more billionaires than ever. But it’s relative. For decades now there have been plenty of multi-millionaires too, so if purely money was a guarantee of success (of the next Fangio) we would have seen that phenomenon decades ago. And the sport would not have survived if it was simply always down to the richest Dad’s kid wins. That kind of predictability would have turned people off long ago.

      1. And the sport would not have survived if it was simply always down to the richest Dad’s kid wins.

        Yes, thankfully it’s not the case always. Only once in a while a phenomenon like Stroll pops up :p

    2. José Lopes da Silva, that would be the same Fangio who had his career paid for by the Argentine government?

  6. “His move to join Sergio Perez at Force India next year should offer a useful measure”

    No, it should provide a season of entertainment – i’m waiting for all kinds of inventive excuses.

    1. @joeypropane Well, considering the team boss is now employed by his father, I am guessing the excuses won’t need to be inventive, just plain mendacious

      1. Well we can start by acknowledging that Stroll is the newbie on the team compared to Perez, so he should lag behind him initially at least until he gets up to snuff with the team and they with him. They have way more data on Perez than on Stroll right now. But sure, if Stroll somehow can’t do any better in a better car, that will be hard to hide from. Just hard to imagine also. Sirotkin and Kubica barely fared any better in the Williams. And we know the car is 80% to 95% of it depending on who you ask. The main focus for both drivers at Racing Point, or whatever they will be called, will be to work together to advance the team. The driver comparison will be inevitable of course, but it is not like they will need to designate a number one and a number two driver at some point. They need to work together.

      2. I had to look mendacious up.

        Thanks, learnt a new word!

        1. @mog Lol, priceless. I did the same thing.

    2. i would not be surprised at all to hear that Perez’s contract wont be renewed if he is consistently beating Stroll. I know money and family names are big in F1 – but this is nepotism at the peak.

  7. Lance completed 1157 laps this season, which was the 8th highest of any driver.

    1. Including his private testing?

    2. Not bad, especially considering he was the youngest driver in the worst car of the field.

  8. This is a tough season to make these rankings. The weak end of the rankings is tough because there are some good arguments for several drivers to be last.

    On the winning end only Hamilton is easy. Who is second? Not Vettel or Verstappen, both had too many incidents, and each threw away open-goal victories. But who was better? Probably Alonso, but tough to tell.

    Ricciardo, Bottas, and Rikkionin were solid but slower. I suspect most people will give more respect to faster, more error prone drivers. I think it isn’t that simple, and tend to judge based on points earned, as can best be adjusted.

    And what about Leclerc? How good is he? How much to expectations matter.

    1. @slotopen
      Well what seems to be the problem then. The faster drivers have more points earned?

      1. @rethla

        Alonso and Ricciardo would argue they would have done better with a better car. Problem is we can’t be sure how much better. As Keith said, too many variables.

        1. @slotopen
          Ricciardo would have a tough case to make there, he has been riding on the “Verstappen breaks his car by himself” wave far to long. Alonso was great but no matter if we like it or not the car matters and i wouldnt rank anyone that wasnt a contender in the top 3 unless it was something absolutely stellar. I could see him in top 5 with perhaps Leclerc.

          1. RIC has never ridden any wave, it’s the viewers with a non-bias who have noticed VER “breaks his car by himself”. But I understand an orange has a hard time not ignoring the truth.

            The ALO-remark doesn’t make any sense (too). No logic.

          2. This ranking is supposed to EXCLUDE the car performance, and judge what a driver would’ve done with the same car as another.

            I agree sometimes they tend to overrate drivers with better cars, but in a fair ranking there’s no way anyone else but alonso takes 2nd place.

          3. @esploratore
            Ofc. it is but theres also a reality. If you are not at the top you cant top perform.

  9. I believe there are strict limits on driving a current F1 car in season, so if Lance did practice driving it would need to be in another vehicle. Is that wrong? If he wants to spend his own money driving an old F1 car around a track that isn’t part of the calendar instead of using the team’s free simulator with virtual in-season tracks is that wrong? Teams spend vast amounts trying to get their simulators to make the simulation of driving on a track as realistic as possible. I presume that is so their drivers can do lap after lap after lap honing their skills without breaking the in-season testing curfew, as well as risk of crashing a real car. I would have thought the simulator would have been more beneficial to Lance, but that’s his business not mine. Maybe there are one or two current drivers who went to a Grand Prix without practising on a simulator, but it would have to be one who believed they could justify their not practising to their team principal, e.g. Lewis, maybe Kimi, etc. I can’t see how any F1 driver who isn’t regularly on the podium (and that includes Lance) could not be putting in lots of hours on a simulator because they don’t have the results to prove they didn’t need to. Most professional sports people put in many hours of practice before they go into competition, so why is Lance doing the same thing wrong? We had one guy in New Zealand who rowed up and down a lake for 6 years so he could win a Gold medal at the Olympics (and he did). Practice makes perfect.

    1. @drycrust
      Nothing is wrong with Strolls training, him being in F1 is wrong.

      1. @rethla: Agree. His training has been the best that vast vats of money can buy. Stroll is the paid for poster boy in the nurture over nature debate.

        Even with the years spent with Baldisserri, one of the best driver coaches, Lance’s clumsy driving style still gives F1’s rich history of wealthy, but untalented drivers an inferior challenge.

        1. Easy to judge Stroll as a clumsy driver when the car is clumsy. I predict his performances will be closer to mid-field level next year as he should be in a mid-field car, not a last-place one.

  10. Running counter to my natural suspicion of the talents and work ethic of billionaire’s children, I’ll say that given the utter depth of Williams’ slump (not to say undoing), it’s near impossible to judge the quality of anyone attempting to drive that car this past season. It’ll be certainly interesting to watch him against Perez, whom I expect to be clearly ahead, but I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong if Stroll can keep up.

Comments are closed.