Williams-Martini Racing/Formula One has finally confirmed what’s been in the works for some time.
18 year old Montreal teen sensation Lance Stroll will make his Formula One debut alongside veteran Valtteri Bottas for the 2017 Formula One World Championship. Bottas will race for the team for a 5th consecutive season.
Since launching his karting career in 2008 at only 8 years old, Lance Stroll, a recent Raceline Radio Network on-air guest on Sportsnet, scored the 2014 Italian F- 4 Championship and the 2015 Toyota Racing Series title in New Zealand, with numerous wins to his pedigree.
Lance has strongly progressed through the Williams Young Driver Programme, dominating and clinching the 2016 European Formula 3 title, tallying 14 race wins and 17 front-row starts, 14 of those from the pole position.
At only 17 at the time, Stroll is the youngest F-3 champion in the 40 year history of that series!
Valtteri Bottas offered a very warm welcome to young Stroll, saying, “I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together!”
Stroll is the first full-time Canadian driver in Formula One since fellow Quebec ace Jacques Villeneuve retired from F-1 in 2006. Jacques ironically won the World Driving Championship for Stroll’s new team, Williams in 1997.
Lance Stroll is very excited! “To be racing in Formula One in 2017 is incredible, I can’t thank Williams enough for showing faith in my ability. Racing in F-1 was something I dreamt about as a young kid. When I began karting seriously, F-1 was then the ultimate goal and especially when I started racing cars in 2014.
2017 is going to be a big learning curve for me, but I’m eager to absorb everything Williams can share with me so that I improve. I’ll be taking things on a race-by-race, lap-by-lap basis and hopefully progress with experience like I did when I entered Formula 4 and then Formula 3.
I believe contesting the FIA European Formula 3 Championship the past two years has prepared me well for the step up. There are many elements for me to learn and I’m still young. I’ve been experiencing a 2014-spec Williams FW-36 since August, which has gone very well. The power is incredible. I’m learning about the car, the incredible down-force, DRS and tire management, finding a rhythm and finding the limit. I’m becoming more comfortable and confident with each run.
I’ve enjoyed success in karting, F-4, Toyota Racing Series and most recently F-3 – winning every category I’ve competed in – so I believe I have earned a shot in F-1. I’m very thankful to everyone who has helped me to reach this level.”
Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, offered, “Lance joined the Williams Young Driver Program at the end of 2015 and has impressed our engineers with his maturity, talent and enthusiasm. We are pleased to be able to offer him the opportunity to step up and show what he can do in Formula One, after proving a dominant force in all the categories he has raced in so far. We are looking forward to seeing him develop as a driver. Williams has a great record of introducing young drivers to Formula One, who have achieved great results, and we hope this will be the start of a long successful career for Lance as well.”
To date, a total of 13 Canadian drivers have contested Formula One, but only 2 scored actual points.
Gilles Villeneuve, rated amongst the greatest drivers of all time, was killed in a qualifying crash at Zolder Belgian in 1982, his 68th race. His brother Jacques tried but failed to qualify for any F-1 starts. Gilles’ son, Jacques Villeneuve won the Championship in 1997 for Williams Rothman’s Renault.
George Eaton competed in 13 F-1 Grands Prix with BRM in the 60’s and 70’s. His best finish was a 9th.
Allen Berg drove for Osella in 1986, competing in 9 races with a 12th his highest finish.
Al Pease drove an Eagle Mk-1 in 3 consecutive Canadian Grands Prix between 1967 and 1969. He was unable to finish any of the races and is remembered as the only driver in F-1 history to be black flagged and parked for being too slow, far off the race pace.
Bill Brack also competed in a trio of Canadian GP’s starting with Lotus in 1968 then, in 1969 and 1972, driving a BRM. He was unable to finish in any of the events.
Eppie Wietzes competed in a pair of homeland GP’s driving a Lotus in 1967 and a Brabham in 1974 but was unable to finish either race.
Peter Ryan (1961), John Cordts (1969) and John Cannon (1971) all competed in one Canadian Grand Prix each. Peter Broeker and Ernie de Vos were both entered for one race with Stebro in 1963. Broeker competed and finished 7th, but de Vos did not start.
Being from Montreal, Stroll admitted to Raceline Radio he is of course a huge fan of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, and besides F-1, keeps a close eye on the American based IndyCar Series.
He has been residing in Geneva Switzerland during the F-3 season.
Nice kid, gobs of talent!