Lance Stroll makes Villeneuve eat his “worst rookie in history” comments

Henry Kelsall

Lance Stroll had come under fire from many fans in Formula 1 after a shaky start to his 2017 campaign–especially when compared with teammate Felipe Massa. But after scoring his first points in Canada, the young Canadian delivered a performance that belied his tender age…

Lance Stroll did not finish the first three races of the 2017 season. By race eight he had taken his first podium, outpaced his race winning teammate throughout the whole weekend and delivered a performance many did not think he could deliver. Yes, the carnage in the race allowed him to take his first podium. But it wouldn’t have happened had the rookie not upped his game and shown the talent that many knew he had from his Formula 3 days.

“I can’t quite realise what just happened. I’m sort of lost for words. I couldn’t believe coming into the weekend that I would be standing on the podium!”

– Lance Stroll

Free practice showed the youngster had found his feet. It was revealed that a private test in Austin, Texas in the 2014 Williams car had shown Stroll had been going the wrong way on setup compared to Massa. Eleventh in FP1, Sixth in FP2 and ninth in FP3 lead to an eight place starting position on the grid and the first time he had out qualified his more experienced teammate. The minute he took to the track, he said he loved it and felt comfortable and it showed in his practice and qualifying performances. The race came and we all saw the carnage, the clash between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton and the intra-team rivalry at Force India boiling over. Through all this the Williams pair had worked there way up into P3 and P4, then at the final restart Massa suffered a rear damper problem and retired from the race. Then Hamilton and Vettel had their headrest and penalties applied, leaving Daniel Ricciardo in the lead and Stroll in an astonishing second.

“He’s had a brilliant weekend. He’s been faultless in every session, he’s stayed out of trouble, didn’t have any incidents and that carried into the race. He kept it clean, had good pace and managed the car and the tyres well.”

– Paddy Lowe

You would be forgiven for predicting that the kid would make a mistake on perhaps one of the most challenging F1 tracks, save say Singapore. But he didn’t. He had a comfortable second place before the closing few laps with Valtteri Bottas, Vettel and Hamilton all bearing down on him. Bottas would slingshot past him at the line to take what was in itself a truly remarkable second place on the podium. Stroll was annoyed, but it didn’t matter too much. He had just taken his first ever podium in F1 and became the youngest rookie to achieve that feat at 18 years and 239 days.

“It was a bit disappointing to lose P2 at the end to Valtteri, but all in all an amazing race – just amazing. I’m over the moon.”

– Lance Stroll

A shaky start to the season was instantly forgotten and plaudits came all around for the youngster, even from those who doubted him. But doubt they did no more. It was perhaps one of the most incredible drives of the last few years, in a race that saw many great races from several drivers. Perhaps he won’t come close to another podium this year, the top three teams usually stopping any chance of that. But he has shown that he can beat Massa, and can deliver great results. For one of the nicest guys on the grid and someone who has survived so much criticism, it was a thoroughly deserved result. Long may his talent continue to shine.

 

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