Lance Stroll had a mixed weekend of results in the season opening FIA European Formula 3 Championship event at Paul Ricard, with the Canadian taking a win and a fifth but also suffering a race two retirement.
The Canadian Prema Powerteam driver was naturally happy to start his season with a victory, having secured his maiden pole position in qualifying on Friday, passing team-mate Nick Cassidy at the start of lap two after the New Zealander had made the better start, and then controlled the race superbly from the front.
Stroll was disappointed to finish race two on the opening lap however, when rookie Ben Barnicoat appeared to misjudge the corner, causing a crash that eliminated four cars including Stroll.
“It’s been a good solid start to the season and going to Hungary second in the championship is very pleasing,” said Stroll. “It was a weekend of mixed emotions in some respect – especially on Saturday.
“Achieving my first ‘pole’ in F3 was incredible but the race on Saturday morning didn’t start how I’d planned. The track was still a little damp and I didn’t get it right whereas Nick, starting P2 in the ‘sister’ Prema car, came past me like a rocketship.
“I overtook him going in to the first corner on lap two after it seemed he made some kind of mistake at the last turn going on to the start/finish straight. From there I was able to dictate the pace and cruise home to victory.
“The day’s second race was short-lived when I was hit from behind after making a good start. It was a ‘rookie’ error by the driver concerned which ultimately ended the race early for four cars and deprived me of adding to my points tally which was a great shame.”
Stroll returned to the points in the final race on Sunday morning, finishing fifth but decided it was not worth risking challenging Mücke Motorsports’ Mikkel Jensen for fourth just so he could secure a couple more points.
“I challenged for fourth place in Race 3 but as soon as I got close to the car ahead, it caused a handling imbalance,” said Stroll. “For the sake of just two additional championship points, I wasn’t prepared to throw a fifth place finish away in the opening event of the season.
“The Prema team did a phenomenal job over the weekend scoring three ‘poles’, five podiums and two fastest race laps.”