Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Silverstone, 2019

2019 F1 driver rankings #19: Lance Stroll

2019 F1 season review

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Lance Stroll’s gold-plated path to Formula 1 and generally mediocre results since arriving – a few genuinely impressive exceptions notwithstanding – make him a ripe target for critics.

He has never been the serial crasher some glibly take him for – at least, not since his early F3 days. And in races he can be quite effective. But a question mark has always hung over his raw speed.

His third year in Formula 1, now at Racing Point following a two-year stint at Williams, offered little cause to revise that view. He went out in Q1 14 times to team mate Sergio Perez’s six. It took Stroll until Monza to break into Q3, and the shine was taken off that achievement when he got mixed up in the farce which resulted in almost everyone failing to set a time.

On race days Stroll generally does much better. For the third year in a row he made up more places on lap one than any other driver. In Australia where he rose from 16th on the grid to score points on his debut for his new team.

Occasionally Stroll delivers a truly stand-out result, often in tricky conditions, as was the case at the Hockenheimring this year. It was a qualified success, however. Stroll’s result came about thanks to a gamble on slick tyres, one which only made sense as he was running well down the order at the time. Moreover, he should have finished third, but went off and let Daniil Kvyat through. But to Stroll’s credit he was able to take a result his team mate missed out on by crashing out much earlier in proceedings.

Despite Racing Point making considerable gains with their chassis after the summer break, points remained hard to come by for Stroll. He only finished inside the top 10 twice over the remaining races: At Spa, despite a first-lap collision with Daniel Ricciardo, and Suzuka. As a result, while Perez added 39 points to the team’s tally during this period, Stroll contributed just three.

Lance Stroll

Beat team mate in qualifying2/20
Beat team mate in race3/17
Races finished19/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate345/1128
Qualifying margin+0.13
Points21

At times he seemed to be over-reaching in his attempt to make up for those poor qualifying performances, and increasingly so on those all-important first laps. Not just at Spa, but also at the Circuit of the Americas, where a lap one excursion ended his points chances and cost him a rare chance to beat Perez, and Abu Dhabi, where he incurred the wrath of Pierre Gasly.

Past lap one Stroll tended to stay out of trouble. Singapore, where he clipped the wall, was an exception. Chiefly, it was his qualifying performances which cost him most dearly in the 2019’s ultra-close midfield.

Stroll’s presence in the team owned by his father might not expose him to quite so much criticism if his performances were at a higher level. But as Esteban Ocon demonstrated last year, Perez is not F1’s highest benchmark when it comes to one-lap pace, yet Stroll seldom seriously troubled him on Saturdays.

While his race performances were more creditable, they weren’t enough to make up for that shortfall. As long as that remains the case, it’s valid to question whether he really belongs in Formula 1.

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What’s your verdict on Lance Stroll’s 2019 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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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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45 comments on “2019 F1 driver rankings #19: Lance Stroll”

  1. Well, yes, ok, spoilt for choice really for P19, with Grosjean and Magnunssen not performing that well really

    Maybe would have put them in this order: Grosjean, Stroll, Kevin, but arrange them as you please and will mostly agree with it

    1. They had a terrible car (impossible to manage during the race with tires degrading fast etc.), which wasn’t the case with young mr. Stroll. He could never compete with his team mate, while mostly he couldn’t even come close to the drivers with slower cars. Now imagine him driving alongside Verstappen, Hamilton or Leclerc. He could barely out-qualify the Williams.

      1. Yes, good argument there Dex I can understand your point

        I felt during the season that Stroll had a good race pace, but ultimatly compromised by his poor saturdays, arguably the wors qualifier on the grid

        Hence my point of view on how I would rank them. Still I agree with your argument

        1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
          12th December 2019, 21:05

          People have generally been more vocal about Grosjean’s continued presence in F1 this year. Stroll is a tad slow, but he as at least proven himself to be a bit smarter.

    2. Lance came to f1 because daddy sponsored his seat. He is still in f1 because daddy owns a team

    3. @johnmilk, why not Giovinazzi? Crashed out twice this season due to self inflicted errors, and I think that his performance relative to Raikkonen was quite disappointing for a driver with his level of preparation and reputation coming into F1 – I’d personally rate him lower than Stroll.

      1. Gio matched Kimi on the second half of the season. Stroll didn’t match Perez anywhere apart from Monza

        1. @johnmilk, did Giovinazzi really match Kimi in the latter half of this season? The only area where Giovinazzi seemed to have an edge over Kimi was in qualifying, but that isn’t really a surprise – Kimi’s not been the quickest driver in qualifying trim in recent years.

          In terms of races where both drivers finished, Giovinazzi actually has a worse record against Kimi than Stroll does against Perez. Giovinazzi only beat Kimi to the flag two times this season, and in one of those cases – the Italian GP – there is an argument that was more due to Kimi having to start from the pit lane due to his crash in qualifying (Kimi had been the quicker driver up until that point). Canada was the only race where he really looked like he had the measure of Kimi in qualifying and race trim.

          In terms of laps spent ahead of his team mate, Giovinazzi’s statistics are about 5% worse than those of Stroll as well – his relative performance against Kimi really didn’t improve that much in the latter half of the season if you look at their race performance. He’s also had two retirements due to spinning out from self inflicted mistakes – not to mention the crashes he had in China when driving for Sauber in 2017 – which did look like somewhat amateurish mistakes to make.

          Now, it is true that he had the disadvantage of not racing for a couple of years before entering this year – and, in my opinion, that rust did show quite noticeably. Considering how people were talking about his performances in GP2 and Formula 3, he’s looked a bit clumsy and error prone in F1.

      2. True. While Stroll is an easy target, the 19th place really belongs to Giovinazzi. Stroll managed to at least bring home one exceptional result, while Giovinazzi was thoroughly outclassed by a 40-year-old. Giovinazzi’s race performances were generally disappointing, even though many times he was let down by his team’s terrible race strategies. Stroll, on the other hand, was genuinely strong in Australia and Canada.

        1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
          12th December 2019, 21:08

          The 40-year old won a race last year, took 3rd in the championship ahead of the driver’s champion’s teammate and Verstappen and could’ve won more the last few had he been allowed too and his luck was a bit better. This 40-year-old is quite the formidable one.
          Giovinazzi did prove himself to be decently competent in the second half of the season, although I agree with you that he was one of the lesser drivers this year.

  2. When I saw the headline, I was initially going to say it was a bit harsh on Stroll. Yes he’s qualifying performance is poor but he’s been quite consistent and solid on race days. Even managing the odd very good performance.

    Then I got to thinking who I would put below him and couldn’t think of anybody. And I think this shows what a strong grid we have at the moment, barring Kubica and the fairytail that wasn’t, consistent and solid still puts you behind everyone else.

    Similarly I can’t remember the last time I was as impressed by a rookie as I am by all three this year.

  3. Stroll was bad, and consistently so. If he wasn’t related to the owners he’d certainly not have a seat, as with a driver at least capable of matching Perez regularly Racing Point could have finished a lot higher. He doesn’t seem to have improved much over the years he’s been in F1 at all – his one lap pace is woeful and most of his ‘good results’ come from strategies born out of necessity from his poor grid slots, and at that he has more poor results than good. There may be a good F1 driver in Lance Stroll but he’s not found it yet.

    1. @rocketpanda

      If he wasn’t related to the owners he’d certainly not have a seat, as with a driver at least capable of matching Perez regularly Racing Point could have finished a lot higher. He doesn’t seem to have improved much over the years he’s been in F1 at all – his one lap pace is woeful and most of his ‘good results’ come from strategies born out of necessity from his poor grid slots

      Couldn’t agree anymore. He’s been consistently one of the slowest if not the slowest driver on the grid for the 3rd season in a row. I think he’s just gotten lucky that there’s been one F1 driver on the grid who has been exceptionally poor such as Palmer, Hartley and Kubica, which has kept Lance Stroll away from the lowest ranked driver for 3 years in a row.

      I also don’t really read much in to his ‘once a year good result’ . As you mentioned, it’s unusual strategies to make up for poor qualifying performances that work our once in a while. I’m also not a huge fan of his rocket starts or lap 1 performance that are usually exaggerated because he’s qualified behind slower cars to begin with.

      Overall, he’s still a rubbish driver, and if it wasn’t for his wealth, he wouldn’t have gotten to his second season in F1, let alone his fourth.

  4. I kind having a soft spot for Stroll. Yes, he’s definitely far from the best and definitely bottom list driver in current grid, but he’s far from the worst that enter F1 before of after him, especially the pay drivers. Put him in 90’s-2000’s era of F1 and he’ll easily become the best of the “pay drivers”. Overall it just shows how good the grid lately become, that even a driver that people really love to hate has achieved podium on merit and occasionally show brilliance.

    1. Yes, I always find myself wanting to see Stroll do better, and happy when he has that rare *good* race. Not sure why I care about an ultra-wealthy son of a billionaire who bought whose daddy bought him an F1 team. I’m thinking it’s the eyebrows.

      1. I think we’re so accustomed to the cynical tale of fortunes of billions being used to carve out unearned space on motorsport grids that we quite like the idea that for once the unfair advantage is used to give a shot to someone who has genuine star quality, so that those billions turn out to have given something back to the F1 community as a whole. Lawrence is certainly good enough that if just a little more talent emerged from the shell it would fit that fairytale arc. It probably plays to our own fantasies of being supportive parent to a superstar racing driver too.

        And yeah, even if the pairing with Perez may not have been flattering to Stroll’s current form, he does seem like a genuinely decent guy who many of us would gladly see progress into fitting that ideal.

        1. I never understood why I root for him but, WH, you’ve nailed it on the head!

        2. José Lopes da Silva
          12th December 2019, 18:08

          I’d rather be Jos Verstappen instead.
          Work hard and aim to perfection. After basics level, it will be up to you. I won’t buy an F1 team for you to think yourself as a successful driver. Would I? Is this correct?
          What happened to instilling a work ethic?
          What do Ocon’s “supportive parents to a superstar racing driver” think watching Stroll on the gird and their son sidelined?

          1. I didn’t say it was the approach the most worthy of credit or glory, just that it’s an appealing fantasy. The Strolls are committed to their approach and for some people it’s appealing to see it play out in a more romantic way than just the almost-great status Lance currently occupies.

            I’m sure that every now and then even the Ocons have dreamed of a few billion falling into their lap and I’m sure Esteban wouldn’t have sat out the 2019 season if that had come true. Likewise, if Verstappen had wound up on the Mercedes roster rather than Red Bull and been faced with the same situation as Ocon at the end of 2018, I’m not really convinced that Jos would really have sat back rather than pulled a couple of strings to keep Max in the game.

            There’s plenty of reason to warm to other individuals in the paddock and perhaps more to admire, but that just doesn’t mean it’s inexplicable when people also relate to the Strolls.

      2. It’s not the eyebrows, it’s the fact that he wanders round the paddock with his face tripping him constantly. He looks so glum all the time. He’s 21, loaded, his dad owns an F1 team and hired him to drive for it, has been in F1 for 3 seasons now and will be nailed on for a seat for life if he wants. If life handed me those cards I’d be cartwheeling into the paddock every single race!

        1. @geemac Could it be that Stroll has fallen out of love with motor racing? Sure, us normal fans who’ve never driven an F1 car would be tripping over ourselves if we had the opportunity Lance did, but knowing why he has that seat and his results, there’s always the chance that he let that criticism get to him. Being an F1 driver would be great and all, but when your performances are put under a microscope (more so than most of the other midfield drivers, at least) and you’re getting constant criticism from fans and media alike, I imagine it loses a lot of its luster.

          1. If that’s the case shouldn’t he fall on his sword and give the seat up? There are plenty of drivers who could fill it more than competently.

          2. @geemac That is a possibility. But he’s also very young and hasn’t hit his peak yet, so the chance he develops into a good driver is still there. But like Max Verstappen, he doesn’t have the luxury of getting to develop outside of the spotlight. It doesn’t matter if he’s 21 or 28, by year 4, the learning phase of a driver’s F1 career should be over and the results are what matter most.

            I reckon this upcoming season Lance needs to put up or shut up. If Checo dominates him once again, Lawrence may not have much choice but to drop Lance and bring in a better driver. Hopefully that doesn’t mean Racing Point gets thrown into financial turmoil once again.

    2. José Lopes da Silva
      12th December 2019, 16:38

      This is the perverse aspect of Stroll’s career.

      In the nineties you would know that an amateur driver would not go very far. (Even if Lavaggi, until today, complains he did not have the same equipment as Lamy.)

      Today, an amateur driver (as per Alonso) can buy a team and stay on the grid season after season. This is not a Gounon or a Schiatarella. This guy got a podium. Does anyone believe he is a better driver than Hulkenberg?

      If the trend goes on, you will have half the grid filled with the sons of billionaires, plus the sons of former F1 drivers, while moneyless and nameless talents are left behind. And we will think “well, he’s not that bad”.

      Give us millions of dollars, let’s buy an F3 team, then fly the world to understand the car and the tracks, and let’s see what we can do.

      Or maybe we’re just Confucianists who believe Stroll deserves to be there because of his clan and family, and were abandoning our Enlightenment, Western beliefs regarding individual merit.

  5. :D Talk about difficulty picking #19 is hard. Way harder than picking #1.

    Hm Lance Stroll then? Was he this bad? I feel several drivers performed worse, but hey someone has to take the mantle.

    1. Who performed worse?

      Gasly? His second half was excellent.
      Grosjean? Had a terrible car and was mostly near his team-mate.
      Giovinazzi? A slow start, but gradually started to match his World Champion team-mate.
      Vettel? Still kept pace with one of the best young drivers on the grid.

      Stroll is lucky Kubica returned or he would have been last by a distance for me.

      1. Well next year could say something about Stroll as there is no Kubica and his 4th year in F1. If Williams can get there act together I wouldn’t be suprised if Stroll would be n.20 in this time next year.

        1. José Lopes da Silva
          12th December 2019, 16:32

          I don’t have that much faith in Latifi, though.

          1. Well in some FP sessions this year he was almost slower than Kubica compared to Russel..

  6. You have to wonder if RP (or however they’re called in the future) suddenly become competitive, and I mean occasional podium or a win competitive, would they keep Lance at all cost? I think it’s beyond any doubt he would not be able to deliver that kind of result unless there’s some unpredictable scenario that wipes out most of the contenders.

  7. I agree wholeheartedly with the list so far. Stroll was embarrassing at times, but Racing Point’s season was a little quiet, so his poor performance wasn’t raised as often as it should have been.

    With 20 more points, Racing Point would have finished 5th. I’d argue that choosing Stroll over Ocon was the difference between 7th and 5th for Racing Point, so I hope they don’t care about the prize money!

    His qualifying is terrible and the fact that he is “ok” in the races doesn’t excuse that. His starts seem to be great, but then he’s almost always out of position so racing slower cars in the early laps.

    There have been worse pay drivers in F1 history but I can name 20 drivers I would sign for that seat over him, given their wealthy owner… what was his surname again…!?

  8. Could easily have been 20th given how bad he compared to his teammate. Probably cost his team at least one spot in the WCC. Really needs to quit if he can’t get closer to his teammate next year, the excuses will have run out.

  9. Stroll is no longer a rookie and the car he’s got under him is a decent midfielder… Perez with this car managed to fight for points almost every race. And while the mexican is indeed a tough cookie to beat, as both Ocon and Hulkenberg have realised, he’s not HAM or VER either. No reason to cut him slack anymore, the kid is just not good enough.

    1. I don’t think Perez was fighting for points every race. He finished in the points 3 times in the first half of the season. Stroll also finished in the points, but 4 times. This doesn’t mean I think Stroll was doing better exactly, but I do think Perez was a great deal better than Stroll really in the first part of the season. Stroll did a good job in a race full of opportunities that Perez crashed out in which got him a big chunk of points over Perez. He only got 6 in the other races at this stage of the season while Perez got 13 though.

      In the remaining 9 races was where Perez looked a lot better. He finished in the points in all 8 that he finished and got 39 points. Stroll got 3. Though Stroll likely would have beaten him in Italy if Vettel hadn’t spun Stroll and Stroll also would have certainly beaten Perez in Brazil if not for his issue. This was the one and only race this season where Perez looked on form and mistake free and yet Stroll looked the better of the two on race day.

      Perez managed to fight and finish in the points 11 times, which isn’t quite every race, but it is a bit more consistent than finishing in the points just 6 times and having just one impressive high result. Perez has had bad luck at times as well which will have cost him a similar number of points to Stroll missing out in Italy and Brazil I think, so I think the points gap is representative.

      I still think 19th is about right for Stroll though. But I have to say that I think Perez was pretty underwhelming in the first half of the season. The fact that Stroll managed to finish in the points more times as well as getting more is what makes me think this despite if a bit of luck was involved. But Perez pretty much destroyed him in the 2nd half and did this anyway in qualifying throughout the whole year.

      At least Stroll shows glimpses of good performances like the Australia, Canada, Germany and Brazil. He just needs to be far, far more consistent and do them more often. Plus work out why he is so poor at qualifying.

      1. 3rd line down, i meant to say that

        “i don’t think Perez was a great deal better than Stroll in the first half of the season.”

        May seem odd, but read the rest of it and you may understand why I think this. I just typed do instead of don’t and it made it mean the exact opposite!

  10. José Lopes da Silva
    12th December 2019, 16:29

    Stroll is a strong sign of decadence of F1’s business model, which is getting back to the 1950s in the sport aspect. Worst than Ericsson, regarding this matter.

    But at least there is a positive about his presence in F1. It shows that the driver still amounts to something.

  11. Cristiano Ferreira
    12th December 2019, 17:41

    I dont question the fact that Stroll is one of the weaker drivers that the current grid has but there is still some question marks pending over our heads (at least in mine)

    In 2017 was Stroll’s first season, he was a rookie and his teammate was a good driver

    In 2018 was Stroll’s second season in a MASSIVELY MESSED UP Williams that has gone backwards

    In 2019 Stroll headed to Racing Point, a team that was rescued by Sergio Perez and Mr. Stroll. The car was not good and certainly did not fit Stroll’s driving style.

    Im not taking his side or making excuses for him, but I think 2020 will be the year where LS has to prove something once and for all. He will be in a good team for a second season in a row, in a car that i think is being built to suit more of his driving style than that of his teammate. It will be his first season in a “stable” team that already proved to be a good midfield capable of reaching the odd podium.

    Lets see how LS fares in 2020

  12. Can we please stop using the “he made up more places on lap one than any other driver” as a positive? he got knocked off Q1 14 times and he has a car capable of more. Of course he’s going to make more places…

    1. It’s like talking about a boxer and saying he got back up before the 10 count more times any anyone else this year!

  13. Lance is garbage!

    Millions upon millions spent to give him an advantage before getting to F1.

    His dad looks like a moron for having him in the seat!

  14. I found myself thinking as to how i would feel and what i would do if i were in Lance Stroll’s shoes and i could see how bad my performances were in comparison to my teammates and I personally would relinquish the seat.
    The question then becomes,what happens to the team if Daddy’s boy isn’t driving for it?

    1. I pray to the gods of Fuel and Speed that the Aston Martin rumours are true, and Papa-Stroll is put under pressure to curb his nepotistic tendencies and put a more capable driver in that seat.

      Perez is a solid performer, but far from a top talent if we’re being honest, so a hungry capable youngster shouls be able to get the upper hand over him over the course of a season.

      Stroll bringing home under 10% of Perez’s points over the second half of the season is a clear indication that his place is in Formula 1 is not in the driver’s seat, perhaps Papa should take a look at the Williams-dynasty, and find his Babby a role on the team’s operations side.

      Perhaps Force India could use Babby’s boy-ish charms on their hospitality team, as a server perhaps?

  15. The qualy margin is curious to me – outqualified 18-2 but only 0.13 seconds average difference? That seems very low to me. Is it calculated on the times both cars achieved when one car is knocked out (e.g Q1 times where Stroll was knocked out were compared to Perez’s Q1 times despite him probably going faster in Q2/3)? Even with that, were the two times Stroll was quicker big outliers that brought the average down a lot or was he just narrowly beaten most of the time?

  16. As long as that remains the case, it’s valid to question whether he really belongs in Formula 1.

    Spoiler! He doesn’t but while his Dad is funding hundreds of jobs and not trying to push him as the no1 over a far better driver in Perez its a rare case where the pay driver tag goes far and beyond that with the sheer investment of the family outweighs hundreds out of work and potentially no F1 team.

  17. Lance is not in F1 based on talent, all that needs to be said.

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