Is he just a rich rookie or a su­per­starin-train­ing? Your ques­tions at­tempt to get to get un­der the skin of the Wil­liams young gun, Lance Stroll


At the top of the three-storey Wil­liams is a rooftop ter­race that over­looks the pad­dock. This is where team guests and VIPS min­gle with a cock­tail and gos­sip about the lat­est go­ings-on in the soap opera world of For­mula 1.

Monza is the mo­torhome’s last des­ti­na­tion this year, be­fore it reap­pears in the Barcelona pad­dock next May. On this sun­blessed Ital­ian af­ter­noon, a hand­ful of guests are lolling in one cor­ner. In an­other is the team’s cel­e­brated chef, Michael Caines, tap­ping busily away at a lap­top. And on a sofa next to the Mar­tini bar sits Wil­liams’ rookie racer Lance Stroll. The 18-year-old copped a cer­tain amount of flak dur­ing the early parts of his de­but sea­son: the open­ing races were a strug­gle un­til he achieved his first points fin­ish at his home race in Mon­tréal. Then came that break­through podium in Baku.

Later on this Ital­ian GP week­end, he will qual­ify on the front row. But prior to that star turn, he’s faced with a tougher challenge: a grilling from our read­ers. The only thing we need be mind­ful of is the au­to­graph ses­sion Stroll must at­tend in less than half an hour. Af­ter that he has to be in cen­tral Mi­lan for a driv­ers’ pa­rade. To­day’s sched­ule is a tight one. So with one eye on the clock, he reaches for a ques­tion card… Yes I have. First there was the adap­ta­tion from F3 to F1, the weight dif­fer­ence and power and es­pe­cially the tyres. I was braking too late and too hard and I was in­ject­ing prob­lems into the car. I had to rein it in. So I started braking ear­lier and with less pres­sure, be­cause when you put so much en­ergy into the brakes you cre­ate a lot of tem­per­a­ture in the tyre and the Pirelli is very sen­si­tive, par­tic­u­larly with re­gards to the sur­face tem­per­a­ture. So go­ing into a cor­ner you in­crease the prob­lems you have and lose grip.

Braking lighter and ear­lier made my life much eas­ier, which meant I could then focus more on my ex­its. That’s very dif­fer­ent to F3 where the tyre would ac­cept al­most any­thing. Last year I could brake very deep and slide the car, but I’ve needed to re­fine and fi­nesse it com­pared to what I was do­ing be­fore.

Also, since Baku, we’ve al­tered the setup of the car and, since that point, I’ve been a lot more com­fort­able

driv­ing the car, so, in all, it’s re­ally been a com­bi­na­tion of adapt­ing my­self and also mak­ing changes to the car.

How did you han­dle crit­ics say­ing you weren’t ready for F1? Char­lotte Davies, UK

I just didn’t bother get­ting in­volved in all that. I knew the truth. I’ve won cham­pi­onships in the past and I’ve got my su­per­li­cence points and I’ve earned my shot at For­mula 1. I knew it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore crit­i­cism would come my way. I never got into the mix of what peo­ple were say­ing and the me­dia. I just tried to stay out of it and stay in my bub­ble and focus on my own thing. The re­sults have turned around and from Canada on­wards it’s been get­ting much bet­ter.

F1R: For some­one who’s only 18, that’s a good pos­i­tive men­tal at­ti­tude to have…

LS: I al­ways kept the peo­ple who are im­por­tant close to me and I didn’t get in­volved – I just stayed out of it.

Were you sur­prised by the com­ments Jac­ques Vil­leneuve made about you, or don’t you care? Pa­trick Six, Bel­gium

[If, dear reader, you hadn’t been pay­ing at­ten­tion to Vil­leneuve’s re­cent mus­ings, he said of his young com­pa­triot: “It’s one of the worst rookie per­for­mances in the his­tory of F1” adding that Stroll’s drives had been “pa­thetic.”]

LS: Who? Who said what? I don’t re­ally care. [The hugely ex­pe­ri­enced Wil­liams press re­la­tions of­fi­cer An­nie Brad­shaw sug­gests to Lance that he tears up that par­tic­u­lar ques­tion card, and he obliges with glee]

LS: Ev­ery­one needs to love ev­ery­one, right?

Are you a Gilles Vil­leneuve fan? Hass Mon­soor, Aus­tralia

I am. I am a Gilles Vil­leneuve fan.

F1R: We did shuf­fle the cards. It’s not de­lib­er­ate that this ques­tion fol­lows the pre­vi­ous one… LS: [Laughs] He’s a bit be­fore my time, but mas­sive re­spect to him. He was a dare­devil of a guy and back in the day it was quite some­thing to be on the limit like he was. Some would say over the limit, but you’ve got to re­spect him and I think he goes down in the books as one of the all-time greats.

F1R: Have you read Ger­ald Don­ald­son’s bi­og­ra­phy of Gilles? In it there’s an anec­dote about him free-fall­ing in a he­li­copter – that’s how much of a dare­devil he was.

LS: That’s tak­ing it to a whole other level. Are you ready to lead the team if Felipe Massa re­tires again? Joseph Cooper, UK I’m still young and I still have a lot to learn, but I’m build­ing a good re­la­tion­ship with the team at ev­ery race and ev­ery week­end I get closer to ev­ery­one. I think there is a lot of po­ten­tial and I’m look­ing for­ward to be­ing with Wil­liams in the fu­ture and see­ing what we can get out of that. Now, with Paddy Lowe [chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer] be­ing here, and a lot of good peo­ple com­ing into the com­pany, I be­lieve that over the next cou­ple of years there’s a lot more to come. I’m ready to be a part of it.

Many new driv­ers are miss­ing out on the feeder cat­e­gories for F1, why do you think this is? And what did Euro­pean F3 teach you as a driver? Tom Bryan, UK

I don’t think it’s some­thing that’s hap­pen­ing a lot. I missed GP2 or For­mula 2, but that was be­cause I had an op­por­tu­nity to come up to For­mula 1 with Wil­liams. I did a re­ally good job in F3 and I had a shot and took it. I don’t think that one is any bet­ter than the other, I think it’s just about tim­ing and do­ing what is right for you.

There is noth­ing wrong with do­ing F2: ev­ery­one has their own path and their own tra­jec­tory into For­mula 1. That’s how it worked out for me. I felt ready and Wil­liams felt I was ready and I had to make the jump even­tu­ally. You al­ways start For­mula 1 from zero.


Are you into any other sports? If so, what? Josh Good­man, UK

Yes, I play a lot of golf. I’m into moun­tain bik­ing, ski­ing, tennis, surf­ing… F1R: Where do you surf? LS: I surf in the Caribbean – Bar­ba­dos, on the east coast where the big waves are. But hav­ing grown up in Canada by a lake, I also do wakesurf­ing be­hind a boat: I’ve been do­ing it since I was four. I also like Amer­i­can Foot­ball (NFL). I don’t play it, but I sup­port the New York Gi­ants and I was there for both the Su­per­bowls they won, in 2008 and 2012.

Back­street Boys or One Di­rec­tion? Prze­mek Iwaniec, Canada

Who are Back­street Boys? F1R: An Amer­i­can boy band. [An­nie Brad­shaw once again, vainly, tries to help out: “I’ve heard the name but I can’t tell you any­thing about them.”] LS: I’d have to say One Di­rec­tion be­cause I’ve never heard of Back­street Boys.

I’m a fel­low Cana­dian. What is it like to carry the hopes of all Cana­di­ans on your shoul­ders? Tim Stan­field, Canada

I al­ways no­tice the Cana­dian flags wav­ing wher­ever I’m rac­ing around the world. So it’s great to have that sup­port no mat­ter where we go. Be it in Bel­gium or Aus­tralia – I al­ways spot a few of them. And to race in Canada, in my home town of Mon­tréal, was just amaz­ing.

Where are the best places to go when vis­it­ing Canada? James Pot­ter, UK

There are a lot of beau­ti­ful places to visit. Van­cou­ver on the west coast is amaz­ing. Mon­tréal is a great city to see – it’s re­ally hap­pen­ing and buzzing. Ni­a­gara Falls is some­thing you should see when you’re in Canada. There’s a lot to do while you’re there.

Which cur­rent or past F1 driver do you re­spect the most? Pa­trick O’neill, UK

Michael Schu­macher was my idol. He was the guy I watched grow­ing up and then there are the guys to­day, Hamil­ton, Vet­tel, Alonso, who are at the top of the sport. They are so good. Ev­ery week­end they get the max­i­mum out of what they can achieve. You’ve got to re­spect the real cham­pi­ons.

F1R: Did you catch up with your old chum Mick Schu­macher in Spa? LS: I didn’t get the chance, no.

F1R: It was great to see him driv­ing Michael’s Benet­ton around the track…

LS: Yeah, I was watch­ing it on the TV. Very cool.

What is your least favourite track and why? Pam Ber­ry­man, UK

[There fol­lows a very long pause, so we de­cide to pitch in with a sug­ges­tion…] F1R: China? LS: No, I re­ally liked China, it’s a great track. I would say… Rus­sia. I hate Rus­sia. It’s re­ally av­er­age. Bor­ing with no high-speed cor­ners. Rus­sia is the worst.

How are you af­fected by the cur­rent re­stric­tions on test­ing? Joe John­ston, USA

To be hon­est, it’s just some­thing you have to deal with in a rookie sea­son. When you show up at new tracks, the sim­u­la­tor can only take you so far. It comes down to you hop­ping in the car with the lim­ited time you have and mak­ing the best of it. The sec­ond year I will do things dif­fer­ently from the first time around. Dur­ing ev­ery race I’m learn­ing, es­pe­cially when con­di­tions change or tyre com­pounds al­ter. The race is the time you learn the track the most dur­ing a week­end. The sim­u­la­tor helps but at the same time it’s just ex­pe­ri­ence. Some­times it clicks and makes more sense than at other times.

In the cur­rent F1 world, what would you say ir­ri­tates you the most? Ewelina Mazurek, Poland

The me­dia stuff and the pol­i­tics can be an­noy­ing. There are a lot of ru­mours that aren’t true that go around the pad­dock. The amount of time you spend in the car is noth­ing com­pared to deal­ing with the other stuff. It’s ir­ri­tat­ing, but it’s part of the sport.


He has the hopes of a na­tion rid­ing on his shoul­ders, and Lance proved he could rise to the oc­ca­sion by scor­ing his first F1 points in Mon­tréal

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