Williams Martini Racing announced towards the end of last season that they have signed Canadian rookie Lance Stroll to replace Felipe Massa at the team for the 2017 Formula One season.
Stroll arrives at the Grove based outfit following an extremely successful campaign in Formula 3 where he dominated.
the 2016 season and has earned a seat alongside Valtteri Bottas for the 2017 season.
Stroll has completed countless miles in the Williams simulator as their development driver and has also completed a filming day in one of their old cars to acclimatize himself to a Formula One car, however the Canadian has yet to drive the 2017 car.
Stroll will be attending this weekend’s Autosport International Show on Saturday however prior to the 2016 season ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix he sat down with the media to discuss the coming year and his expectations.
Tell us what sort of problem you have between now and when you jump into 2017 car –
Just preparing physically, mentally technically with the team and just a bit of recharging of the batteries as well. I believe we have a couple more days in the 2014 car not confirmed yet exactly when, where and how. Just going day by day and Williams is deciding the programme for me. I am here this weekend learning what I have to lean and then I will head back to Europe
What have you picked up from driving the two year old car –
I haven’t driven a tremendous amount yet, I have had a few more days and what I have learnt so very is it is obviously very powerful. The power is a lot more than what I am used to in F3. But you get used to it, it is another step another car and I am getting used to it. The downforce is obviously incredible there is plenty of it but it is another car, another step I am getting more used to it every time I am getting into the seat . It is a new challenge but I am ready to take it on.
What was your first feeling when you got into an F1 car after F3
At the end it is just another car on four wheels. I have been driving all sorts of different cars all my life karting, Formula 4, Formula 3 Formula 1 now. There are always challenges in each category, new things to learn and every step you make it always feels like it is the biggest step you have done in your life and the first impression was very powerful, a lot of grip basically the best car in the world which is what it is , it is the top of the leagues, but it is another car with challenges and things to learn so I am just getting better and more used to it every time I get in.
First of all when you get an opportunity to go straight into Formula 1 there is nothing that quite prepares you for Formula 1 other than doing Formula 1. I think GP2 is definitely the step in between but I don’t think it prepares you as well as actually competing in F1 there is nothing that prepares you for Formula 1 than doing the 21 Grands Prix in a Formula 1 car and that is why I am here today . I won F3, I dominated the championship and if I didn’t do those things and Williams didn’t think I was ready I wouldn’t be here.
This weekend is an opportunity to come to the track to get to know the people I will be working with next year better even though I know a lot of them from working at the factory it is a good race to come to look and understand everything a little bit better for next year so I don’t come to Melbourne with it all new to me. I come with a bit of experience and a bit of preparation.
I think F3 is already a pretty good category to learn in It is a very high level and it is a car that teaches you to drive . It has a lot of downforce, not so much power but a lot of grip and it teaches you how to use all that grip which is what Formula 1 is all about you have a lot of downforce, a lot of power and you use all that. That was a great school for me and those two years really taught me a lot.
Driving the 2014 car is lot better than not driving any Formula 1 cars before 2017. Obviously it is not this year’s car and it certainly wont be next year’s car with the new regulations. But it is better making a few steps, getting into a ’14 car and making a step form a ’14 car to a /17 car rather than just directly from F3 to F1. Every little bit will help and as well off the track I think a lot of preparation will help. Being involved with Williams working with them technically getting me ready mentally physically and all that there is a lot of work that goes into that too so it is not only on the track but I think on the track this winter we will have a lot of work to prepare for the first race and experience and all that It is not like I will arrive in Melbourne an know everything and that is my season. It is a long term project and I think Williams expects me to improve throughout the season . I have a great team behind me to help me do that and I have a great team mate who is a great bench mark for me who has many years with the team, has proven to be very fast and who will help me a lot throughout the year and I will progress race by race and that is what I am going to do – I am going to take it race by race and lap by lap.
It is a new formula next year. If you have experience it always helps there is no doubt about that but I think to a certain extent it helps me to come in on a year like that where everyone, I wouldn’t say is starting from zero, but from a bit lower. If I came in next year with the same formula as the last three years it would maybe be a bit harder for me to catch up . I don’t really know I am just going to prepare as best I can and just go for it. I am not going to try and make all those expectations.
It is difficult but it is difficult for everyone. That is why we do what we do. If it was easy everyone would do it and that is not the case. The teams work pretty hard, the drivers work pretty hard and that is why it is Formula 1. It is not an easy sport, will never be easy, but that is part of the challenge and I am ready to take it on.
I think a bit of everything. I think in terms of one lap pace it is another car – it has got grip, a lot of power and you are able to push and you can use that just like F3 which is what we are doing all the time pushing at 100per cent . F3 is a car that teaches you to really deliver 100 per cent out of a car since the downforce is really good and it is a great car to learn in. And it is also a great championship with the competition really high you need to be good and you need to be on your A game , win races, get poles and all those things. F1 is obviously tougher in many different ways I think tyre management, fuel saving all these things I am not used to and possible that is the most complicated thing at the moment that I will have to learn throughout the season. There is no area in particular, it is all little details. So I am just working on that.
Physical side. You are starting from scratch.
I wouldn’t say I am starting from scratch as even in F3 we were doing physical training and even before that you do it from a really young age. But I think it will be tougher next really. I don’t really know but assuming everything goes to plan and the tyres are a lot more grippy and the aero will work and the car will be four or five seconds faster and do whatever they say then yes it is going to be physical, but I am preparing as well as I can for it. It is a new challenge not only technically but also physically . Physically it will be tough but I am looking forward to it.
Procedures for next year, starts, etc, have you been able to train on the 2014 car.
I think some things in the 2014 car but also a lot in the simulators and stuff today are used for that . All the procedures and everything we need to know as a driver as much as possible. But nothing will prepare me as well as actually being in a race situation and having to do it next year in 2017 that will be I can do as much preparation as I want but I will have to experience the real race situation and the real car and everything to really get used to that. Barcelona when we are testing will be another opportunity to get a bit more understanding before the first race. 9mins 58secs
Time when you decided not to do GP2
I think it was multiple things. I know we are just taking it year by year and that is what we have always done ever since we decided to go to go karts. We have never tried to plan too far ahead in the future, just focus on the task in hand and this year F3 was obviously the goal and we achieved that not only by a little margin but by a big margin and I think without that big margin and the way we did it and without some of the tests in the 2014 car and the way it has gone and the way Williams has evaluated me without all those things together I don’t think I would have been here. There are multiple reasons why we are here today and why we are not doing a step in between or not doing GP2 and that is the way it is. I am just looking forward to 2017.
Two different styles in F1 Ocon fast and smooth and Verstappen is fast and quite crude what is your style?
Everyone has their own style I am just going to do what I do and just go race by race. Not over thinking and I don’t want to be like anyone on the grid . I don’t want to simulate anyone I just want to do my job and do what I do
Do you watch other drivers and try to learn?
Yes I obviously want to be a quick driver I want to be fast and as helpful as possible with the team in all the ways which means delivering good qualifying results and delivering good race results . Those who things are very important and all the stuff in between aggressive in races and all those things are minor details and not stuff to over think . I am just focussed on just preparing myself as well as possible and I am in the car doing the right things
I think it is nothing massive change I am still myself, I am still a racing driver I have been my whole life. Whether it is F3 it is F1 it is a new step. Maybe there are more cameras, there are more people but I just see it as another racing series with other drivers with other race helmets on their heads and other teams competing to try and win races . I am here, whether it is F1 or F3 I am giving my 100 per cent and that is all I can do more than that I cant do and that is what I have been doing my whole career. I have won championships up to now and it has helped me get to where I am today – without winning championships I would not be where I am today . And now that is all behind me and I am now looking forward to the future and obviously in F1 there are so many more details and so many more things have to fall into place to win races. Now there are multiple different cars and manufacturers. In F3 there was one car and two different engine manufacturers and very similar. That obviously makes a big difference and I obviously have a lot of different things to think about. Yes new challenge, new year, working with a new team that I am very excited about and that I have been getting along with really well up to now and I am going to try and enjoy rthe journey as well because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
How much are you a product of your father’s passion for motor racing and how much a product of your own passion
I think a bit of both. I think without someone inspiring you and someone allowing you to watch the races wen you are a kid and get into it I think that you don’t just get into it you have to have some one who kind of shows you what it is all about. You know who turns on the Grands Prix on Sunday morning, who enjoys racing, my father was a gentleman driver many years ago and he always had a big passion for cars. He was turning on the grands prix on a Sunday morning and I was watching them with him and all those things. Just like any sport, any athlete that is the way it works. I wouldn’t say be pushed me, as that is the wrong word, but if i wouldn’t want to do it he wouldn’t want me to do it. It really is my choice to do what I am doing . We obviously share a passion , we are bit motorsport fans and just love racing that definitely is the reason why we are here.
Do your remember the first Grand Prix you watched with your father
I can’t say I remember the early one. I remember the early days really well . Michael Schumacher was a huge inspiration of mine growing up as a little boy and he was the guy winning the races. But he was not only a champion on track as he was also a true champion off the track you know, such a hard working guy, an intelligent racing drvier . Arguably one of the best of all time . Me growing up he was really my idol and inspiration and still is. I think he definitely inspired me to become a Formula 1 driver
Would you answer the same if the question didn’t come from a German – Laughs
Canada is a way away on the calendar, are you looking forward to your home race –
Yes I think it will be a dream come true . I have been racing in Europe all these years and the European championship in F3 didn’t really allow me to go to Canada to race so I think it will be super cool in front of my home fans . All my friends and hopefully I will have a lot of friends come out to watch me race . It will be great and I am really happy to give Canada some xx now. I was a bit worried at one point because it would not have been nice if I hadn’t had the opportunity to race in Montreal . Yes definitely it will be one of my favourite Grands Prix this year but I am just looking forward to all the Grands Prix. Every time I get into a car and every time I get to race it is always a pleasure and I have always loved it my whole life and wherever I go I always enjoy it.
There are two ways it works. One way you need to have a sponsor or a family member who helps you from eight years old to whatever age you arrive to Formula 1. If you arrive to Formula 1 without that I would not have been able to move from Canada to Europe to pursue my dream . And then after that no matter how much money you have where you come from if you don’t actually turn the steering wheel left and right and go as quick as possible around the track you don’t win races and money cant buy wins, money can buy the opportunity, money can buy a seat in formula 4 and go karts and F3 but if you don’t have the super licence , which requires winning championships like F4, F3, or maybe GP2 if you dot win F3, If you don’t get those 40 points which I have done you don’t get into Formula 1. Money doesn’t get you wins it just allows you to race, which is true you cant deny that, it is a very expensive sport we are in and there are plenty of drivers who haven’t had that opportunity who are very talented , which is really unfortunate, That is just the sport we are in but I worked really hard, I went on to win those championships and without those championships I wouldn’t be here. I could have all the money in the world and finished last and that wouldn’t have put me where I am today.