Lance Stroll joins Bottas in the Williams F1 line up for 2017
The freshly crowned Formula 3 European champion Lance Stroll joins Williams Martini Racing for 2017 Formula One season, as a replacement for Felipe Massa, who is leaving the premium open-wheel racing series at the end of 2016. The 18-year-old Canadian will join Valtteri Bottas, who will race with the team for a fifth consecutive season.
Giving the second seat to Stroll, who celebrated his 18th birthday few days ago (on October 29), isn’t a surprise, because he was on the top of the list since Massa announced his retirement two months ago.
“I’m delighted to confirm that Valtteri will be racing for Williams once again next year, and be joined by Lance Stroll. Valtteri is a much-loved member of the team and his talent is unquestionable, so for him to use that experience to help lead the team forward is exciting. He has played a pivotal role in the team’s turnaround since 2014 and we are looking forward to continuing the strong relationship we have with him into the future,” Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, said and added:
“Lance joined the Williams Young Driver Programme 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. He is still young, and we 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.”
The new youngest driver in the Formula One started his karting career in 2008, switching to formulas in 2014. Since then, he was the 2014 Italian Formula 4 champion, the 2015 Toyota Racing Series champion in New Zealand and finally the 2016 FIA Formula 3 European champion.
“To be racing in Formula One in 2017 is incredible, I can’t thank Williams enough for showing faith in my ability. Racing in F1 was something I dreamt about as a young kid. When I began karting seriously, F1 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 for 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 FW36 since August, which has gone very well. The power is incredible. I’m learning about the car, the incredible downforce, DRS and tyre management, finding a rhythm and finding the limit. I’m becoming more comfortable and confident with each run.
I’ve enjoyed success in karting, F4, Toyota Racing Series and most recently F3 – winning every category I’ve competed in – so I believe I have earned a shot in F1. I’m very thankful to everyone who has helped me to reach this level,” Lance Stroll said.