The past two seasons of Formula One may have been dominated by the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, but a certain Dutch teenager has been cutting his way through the rankings to become one of the most recognisable and talked about drivers on the grid: Max Verstappen. As he heads into his third season in the sport, a new breed of rookie is becoming more common; the younger, the better. Enter eighteen-year-old Lance Stroll, who claims that Verstappen has ‘paved the way for young drivers to make the step up.’
After just one season in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, Verstappen made the huge leap up to Formula 1, at just seventeen years of age. He has since become the youngest driver to ever win a race, at the infamous Spanish Grand Prix where both Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg took each other out on the first corner.
Hoping the emulate the stratospheric rise of Verstappen, Canadian teenager, Stroll, will be entering the sport as a driver for Williams Martini Racing in the 2017 season, after a completely dominant year in F3.
“He’s paved way for very young drivers coming into F1,” Stroll told Autosport, “it’s shown the sport that young drivers are capable of making the step from F3 to F1.”
However, to say that Stroll will be another Verstappen is not a mistake to be made, as he commented that, “everyone has their own situation, I don’t want to compare myself to others – he’s Max and I’m Lance.”
Stroll was eager to point out that he will have a much more difficult challenge than Verstappen, in that he will be partnering Valterri Bottas next year, who has five years worth of experience in Formula One, in comparison to the Dutchman, who was up against Carlos Sainz Jnr in his first year at Scuderia Toro Rosso, meaning that both drivers were rookies.
“Max came in and had a team-mate who was a rookie. You can’t compare it to a team-mate with years of experience. We can go all day speaking about him versus him but I’m just going to focus on myself.”
Despite wanting to stand out for his own driving merits next year, Stroll is still grateful for the fantastic team that surrounds him, as well as having somebody as experienced as Bottas to work with.
“I’m surrounded by a great team, which knows how to work with young drivers. I know I have a great benchmark and I can learn a lot from him.”
The two young drivers last met in a racing situation at Ferrari’s Florida Winter Series at Sebring, where the older Verstappen was evidently hugely faster than Stroll, but still suffered from some rookie mistakes. It will be interesting to compare the two drivers next year, but in the meantime, Stroll has commented that, “I’m just going to do my thing.”