TORONTO, Ontario — Most 20-year-olds are living in their parent’s house, trying to figure out what career they want to pursue, or in the midst of classes at a local college. There are also others who would be considered lazy by their peers, unable to find something to focus upon.
Then there’s Lance Stroll, who is set to enter his second season of Formula 1 competition with SportPesa Racing Point Formula 1 team.
Despite being the youngest driver on the grid, he has impressed the critics, picking up a podium finish – third at Baku – in his rookie campaign in 2017. Last year, he wasn’t nearly as successful with Williams Racing, scoring just a pair of top-10’s with a season-high eighth at Baku.
His early success at a young age is something that is remarked about by his new boss, SportPesa Racing Point F1 team principal and CEO Otmar Szafnauer.
During the team’s livery reveal at the Official Canadian International Auto Show, Szafnauer recalled Stroll’s first laps behind the wheel of the team’s car. Entering the test, he tried to taper expectations alongside teammate Sergio Perez and Stroll’s father Lawrence Stroll.
“I kept saying to Lawrence that we need to make sure Lance gets used to our car, our way of working all weekend because it’s going to be totally different,” Szafnauer told POPULAR OPEN WHEEL. “So let’s not worry about the lap time as that’ll come. What was it? Three, four laps into it, Lawrence goes, ‘Did you see the lap time?’
“He’s a talented youngster. We forget he’s only 20-years-old, and he’s already been on the front row in a big event.”
That reason alone is why Stroll is seen as someone with “great potential” entering his third year of competition. He will also have someone to lean on for advice, with Sergio Perez. Perez will be entering his ninth season of Formula 1 competition.
The pair have a history together, crossing paths back in 2011 when Perez says Stroll “was just a little kid.”
“I just moved over to Europe to compete in karting there, and he was beginning a big task – beginning his career in Formula 1,” Stroll told POPULAR OPEN WHEEL. “So we go way back – me and Sergio.”
The ability to work together should benefit the youngster, as he looks to find his way up the grid with the team targeting a fourth-place finish in the constructor’s championship this year.
“It’s important to have that healthy relationship,” Stroll commented. “We spend, as a team, 21 weeks together and then a lot of time back at the factory. So it’s really important that we work as well as we can as a team, and help make the cars as quick as possible.”
Although some drivers have entered Formula 1 and began winning right away from the beginning, like Lewis Hamilton, it has taken others time to find their footing. Several of the prominent front runners failed to find success in the first two seasons, with Daniel Riccardo actually taking until his fourth year on the grid to score his first victory.
So although he has yet to break out and be super successful as some may have hoped, give it time. He is young, and has lots of time to get experience. When he has that, combined with the solid footing of the team’s new financial structure underneath him, you may be surprised in what he can accomplish.
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