After dominating the 2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship it was no surprise for many when Williams Martini Racing announced the signing of teenager Lance Stroll.
The 18 year old has benefitted from substantial backing throughout his career thus far – courtesy of his father – and has undertaken a multi-million dollar test program with Williams to prepare for the 2017 Formula One season.
Stroll has found himself branded a ‘pay driver’ as result of this, despite the level of success he has endured.
Deputy team principal Claire Williams wants her team to be given more respect for handing the Canadian the race seat and feels Stroll is being unfairly judged.
Red Bull and Toro Rosso came under similar fire when they signed then 17 year old Max Verstappen but the young Dutchman quickly dispelled the fears of many fans as he continually impresses.
Speaking to Motorsport.com Williams commented: “When it comes to Stroll I think out of courtesy we should reserve judgment.
“Considering his age he has achieved a huge amount – he’s won every championship that he’s taken part in and particularly in the F3 championship.
“As everybody knows, Williams isn’t a team that would put their stake into a driver that they didn’t believe could deliver. We are a serious team with serious ambitions and I am not going to put a driver in a car that I don’t believe will deliver. I believe that Stroll will.
“I think we should give the guy the chance to prove his talent and to prove that he deserves the seat. And I wouldn’t put him in a car if I didn’t believe that he could deliver.”
Uncertainty currently surrounds who Stroll will be paired with as Valtteri Bottas is the subject of the vacant seat at Mercedes following the departure of Nico Rosberg, with Felipe Massa potentially making a return from retirement.