Paddy Lowe was delighted as Lance Stroll secured Williams Martini Racing’s first podium finish of 2017 with a strong drive to third place during Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
It could have even better for the teenager, with the Canadian losing second place on the run down to the line on the final lap to former Williams racer Valtteri Bottas, but Chief Technical Officer Lowe was over the moon that Stroll had such a strong, clean weekend.
“Who would have expected that podium at the beginning of today?” said Lowe. “It’s a terrific result for Lance to become the youngest rookie in history to score a podium.
“He’s had a brilliant weekend. He’s been faultless in every session, he’s stayed out of trouble, didn’t have any incidents and that carried into the race. He kept it clean, had good pace and managed the car and the tyres well.
“It was good battle at the end and we were very unfortunate to lose second place. The critical moment was that Valtteri got DRS on the last lap, that lost Lance second place. But we’re very happy with third.”
Whereas there was happiness on Stroll’s side of the garage, there was distinct disappointment on Felipe Massa’s side, with the Brazilian losing a podium of his own and a possible win thanks to a suspension issue, and Lowe was disappointed the veteran Brazilian was unable to join his team-mate on the podium.
“The day was far from perfect,” said Lowe. “We got both cars in under the early safety car, and the red flag set us up well for what looked like a double podium, as we predicted there would be fallout from the Hamilton and Vettel incident. So we were feeling good at the red flag.
“But, Felipe had an internal suspension failure that emerged just after, which I’m very upset about. Without that issue we really believe that Felipe could have won the race today and we could even have had a double podium.
“Felipe’s had a fantastic season so far and he’s been a great support to Lance, so it’s a shame that he can’t celebrate with us today. But, we’ll build on this and come back stronger next time.”