Lance Stroll was almost speechless after clinching the FIA European Formula 3 Championship title at Imola, and did so with four races to spare.
The seventeen-year-old Canadian took the crown with an almost-perfect display at the Italian circuit, with three pole positions, two wins and a second place, and Stroll praised his Prema Powerteam outfit for giving him such a great car all season long.
“Words cannot adequately describe my feelings on winning the FIA Formula 3 European Championship title,” said Stroll. “Our pace from the opening race in April has been unbelievable, in both qualifying and the actual races.
“A combination of many things has allowed us to be ultra-consistent – a fact that wins titles. The Prema team, who I’ve raced with since 2014, has worked very hard for me while I’ve worked hard at the tracks, and away from them, to be at the level I am today.”
Stroll was in sublime form once again at Imola, and was only denied a triple victory by Niko Kari during Saturday’s opening race, but admitted he did not want to jeopardise his championship chances by battling the Finn too hard for the victory when Kari was not in the championship battle.
“Imola is one of my favourite tracks,” admitted Stroll. “I topped the times in both Free Practice sessions on Friday and ultimately started all three races from pole.
“I scored good points in the opening race, leading until the second re-start after a Safety Car. I actually did nothing wrong but Niko did a better job and I wasn’t prepared to jeopardise a rostrum finish by being overly aggressive especially as he was no threat to me in the title fight.”
Whereas he was beaten by Kari in the opening, Stroll was unbeatable in the final two races of the weekend, clinching the title with his tenth victory of the season as his last remaining rival for the title – Maximilian Günther – crashed out, before dominating the final race of the weekend.
“In Sunday morning’s race, the pace was really good,” said Stroll. “Having built a lead each time I had to deal with three Safety Car re-starts. Over the last two laps I felt the title was arriving.
“In the third race again my pace was good and it was nice to have an uninterrupted race in terms of no Safety Cars and score an unchallenged victory.”