Lance Stroll, Williams, Yas Marina, 2018

First-lap gains down to ‘being wise’ at start – Stroll

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Lance Stroll explains how he managed to gain more places on the first lap than any other driver for the second year in a row.

What they say

Stroll made up a net total of 36 places on the first lap of races during 2018:

High risk, high reward! No, it hasn’t really been risk. It’s just been, I’ve just positioned my car well first lap. One thing we are good at is launches off the line, that’s an area we have been strong over the last couple of seasons. I’ve taken advantage of that and been wise on the opening lap.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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McLaren P1 GTR 'Beko'
McLaren P1 GTR ‘Beko’

McLaren Special Operations has produced a bespoke version of the P1 GTR for a client in tribute to Ayrton Senna’s 1988 world championship victory for the team.

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Comment of the day

Do you like the idea of an F1 race in London?

I think a London Grand Prix would be quite interesting and the city is so large that it would feel like London irrespective of having a shot of Big Ben in the background of turn one (I can see it from my office window right now and it’s still covered in scaffolding so I doubt there’d be much clamour for it anyway).

One major sticking point would be the quality of the roads, which are pretty appalling everywhere. The only ‘space’ where there is room to make road improvements without annihilating day-to-day traffic is probably Stratford (the Olympic park) and that would be the least inspiring location (albeit vaguely iconic given the Olympic infrastructure is still mostly there).

Personally, I like the idea of doing the race in the vicinity of Crystal Palace. For starters they did actually used to have a racing circuit there. it also has some significant elevation change, a huge park for spectator/paddock facilities. plus it’s away from the centre so it wouldn’t cripple public transport and annoy to NIMBYs. It’s pure fantasy of course, but it’s a (barely) cogent fantasy and what more could you ask for?

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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...

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  • 39 comments on “First-lap gains down to ‘being wise’ at start – Stroll”

    1. I think there will be a lot of chaos at the starting line next season.
      Why? Look at all the youngsters – raging hormones comes to mind.


      Too much inexperiece. I think ALO was right when he said as much last year. Next year will most likely be worse!

      1. Too much inexperience and you put Verstappen in that list – he might be young but has completed 4 full seasons in F1 and has won 5 races.

        1. And yet he still drives like it’s a video game.

          1. That’s whtat I like about him.

      2. Ken, mind you, if you think about the 2018 season, some of the most dramatic crashes on the first lap were caused by some of the more experienced drivers on the grid.

        After all, it was Grosjean, who is into his seventh season in the sport and now over 140 starts, who caused a major pile up at the Spanish GP, whilst Hulkenberg, in his eigth season in the sport and now up to nearly 160 starts, sent Alonso flying into Leclerc in the Belgian GP.

        I would also say that Leclerc seems, on the whole, to have kept it fairly clean on the first lap: whilst Stroll did collide with Alonso in the US GP, on the whole he seems to have been one of the smarter drivers on the first lap. I think your assessment is therefore a bit harsh, not least because we’ve seen rather more experienced drivers make rather serious errors themselves on the opening lap.

      3. Verstappen goes into his 4th season
        Leclerc didn’t get a single licence point in his rookie year
        Stroll finished 19 out of 21 races in 2018
        Gasly had one encounter with his team mate arguably a result of miss communication
        Kvyat goes into his 3/4 season?

        Norris, Russel, Giovanazzi and Albon are rookies, as were Leclerc, Gasly, Sirotkin and Hartley. Into 2019 there will be the same number of rookies and arguably more talent as I rate Norris, Russel and Albon higher than Sirotkin and Hartley. I see no problem whatsoever

    2. How soon before someone pipes up complaining that the Mclaren looks too much like a fag packet?

      1. The thought crossed my mind, but surely the white on red chevron these days is more associated with classic racing cars of champions and not a cigarette packet.

        Maybe that’s just in Australia because all cigarettes in Australia must be sold in plain packaging – white with black text. And pictures of disgusting things which can happen to smokers.

    3. First-lap gains down to ‘being exceptionally lowly qualified’ at start – Fixed that for you, Mr Stroll.

      1. @chaddy What about the other similarly lowly qualified drivers? Do they have equally impressive stats? I’ve seen this argument being used a lot of times, but I don’t understand it. Stroll made up three or four places at the start of a good number of races this year. I can’t find the onboard of his start in Abu Dhabi, but it was posted on reddit about a month ago, and it matches well with the comments he has made about positioning his car.

        1. I guess it’s easier to write something negative about Stroll than to check the actual video.

          I’m still going strong with the Stroll-challenge (Strallenge) I took ;)

          1. @coldfly I’ve posted a link below ;)

            1. thanks, @neutronstar.
              I hope you understand that I wasn’t critical of your contribution, but rather the easy swipes at him by others.

            2. @coldfly LOL I tagged you separately just to avoid that confusion 😂😂

      2. Curious to know how many of those first lap gains were due to people ahead of him being involved in accidents or car failure. Fairly sure that if you only count true overtakes and exclude gains due to failures Stroll would have much less gains.

      3. @chaddy and @jelle-van-der-meer
        Let me tweak that for you.
        First-lap gains down to ‘being so far behind on the grid that he avoided any of the first lap incidents taking place in front of him’

        1. @todfod

          First-lap gains down to ‘being so far behind on the grid that he avoided any of the first lap incidents taking place in front of him

          Except that Lance often gets a better launch than his compatriots, which means that he is actually in the thick of things in the first lap.

          I just can’t seem to find the video of his start in Abu Dhabi, but I did find this one, so enjoy @chaddy @jelle-van-der-meer and @mrboerns ;))

        2. Damn, the link didn’t get posted

          Stroll’s French GP start

          1. @neutronstar

            Since we’re on the topic of Lance’s fantastic starts. Why don’t you share his opening lap form Canada and US as well?

            1. @todfod I never claimed that those weren’t mistakes on his part. By that logic, Max’s racecraft must be generally terrible on the basis of his few mistakes this year. Fact is, Stroll was statistically the best starter this season and the video evidence is there to disprove all those who think he just hung back and benefitted from ‘crashes’ all the time.

            2. @neutronstar

              Every year when they do an analysis of the maximum positions gained on lap 1 there are a couple of back markers among the top 4 or 5. It’s only natural when you start last or 2nd to last. While I do admit Lance got a couple of good starts… In China, France and even Baku I think, he had some equally disastrous first laps.

              Let’s not skew the story to say Lance is fantastic at race starts. At Williams last year he didn’t show a lot of them. And this year he was in pole position (Last on the grid) to make the most of maximsing that statistic.

            3. @todfod Stroll’s start in Abu Dhabi was very good as well. Also, apart from Canada and USA, what were his other ‘disastrous’ first laps?

              Lance was actually the best starter overall last year as well, and he didn’t even start most of the races at the back of the grid. Two years a row, so credit where credit’s due.

      4. It’s more than that though. I’m generally of the opinion that Stroll doesn’t belong in F1, but his first lap passing is truly good.

    4. Hate to be that guy but if you always start dead last but vandoorne chances are you’ll pick up a place or two whenever someone (looking at you there, seb) spins or crashes on the opening lap

      1. @mrboerns good point. I think there must be a better metric for this. stroll’s tally is pretty good on the face of it, but it’s less than 2 per race. it would take a bit of unpicking but I imagine that if we exclude places gained purely at the expense of others’ crashes then stroll would look (even) less impressive. it’s a rare first lap that doesn’t see at least one car in the pits or in the wall.

        1. @frood19 An average of 2 per race doesn’t necessarily mean that he managed exactly two every race. It’s more sporadic than that. I’ve posted two video links in the comments above, for his starts in the Chinese and French GP’s. Do check them out and decide for yourself whether Stroll’s starts are purely down to ‘luck’ and retirements of other drivers or could there be more to it. ;)

          1. Like, if he started last in Australia 02 and survived the first he’d bagged a solid 8 places in one go

          2. @neutronstar well, obviously it’s a mean average, which is why it’s not necessarily the most representative metric, even if we ignore the fact he’s generally starting at the back. the china video is impressive and he placed his car really well throughout that clip. furthermore, there is an obvious skill in being able to avoid incidents, but it’s hardly the most inspiring skill. if rivals take each other out, even I would gain places if i started last and pottered round at the back (as long as i didn’t get lapped, which is a big if!)

            this pic on f1metrics is quite illustrative:

    5. Who knows; the British Grand Prix may be held on the streets of London from 2020 onwards. But that is something that will be nearly impossible to pull off; personally I hope not.

    6. That cigarette brand is like the spanish inquisition.. appears when least expeteced.
      moral Cotd.

    7. Thought it weird that McLaren makes a car called the Senna but chose a P1 for this tribute until I saw that it was a customer request. That livery does look awesome on the P1 though… even better than renderings I’ve seen of the same Marlboro scheme on the Senna, though the fact that I don’t really like the look of the Senna might have something to do with that.

    8. Is the Autosport Top 50 drivers not commented around here?

      1. @magon4 thanks for the heads up, really interesting list.

    9. So, from Stroll daily news here we knew that Williams didn’t develop their cars progressively but still manage to make use of good torque from its PU.

    10. Well, at least there was something Williams was good at last season.
      – I both agree and disagree with Lauda.
      – Regarding the Guardian-article: Just let it go already.
      – The look of the P1 GTR, though.

    11. “Let’s produce a high-end super car for a client!”
      “Great! But what shall we call it?”
      “I know. I just received delivery of a cheap appliance. Let’s use that brand’s name!”
      “Cool! Nothing says high-end like a the name of a budget appliance. The management will be too stupid to notice anyway”

      1. My Beko freezer may be ugly, heavy, slow around corners and lacking any high-end features, but other than that it has nothing in common with McLaren in F1.

    Comments are closed.