Williams Martini Racing driver Lance Stroll was given authorisation to complete a private test in between the Canadian and Azerbaijan Grand Prix, in which he utilised a 2014 specification car, as revealed by Williams Technical Officer Paddy Lowe.
The in-season test, which took place at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) on 21 June, definitely boosted the Canadian’s performance in Azerbaijan in the opinion of Lowe, as he was able to out qualify team-mate Felipe Massa for the first time this season, secure his best ever start position on the grid and claim the final step on the podium on race day.
The test was penned in to allow Stroll more track time and to get the Canadian used to different car set-ups, and it appears to have worked, as Lowe explained to crash.net recently.
“We went to Austin last week driving the 2014 car so did a few experiments there with set-up, looking at the differences between his set-up and Felipe’s set-up. Some of that has been brought forward here and I think that’s put him in a much better place.
“[The changes are] generic things that are common to most racing cars actually, just around how we’ve got the car configured, which definitely helped him.
“The trouble on a Friday is you’ve got limited time, limited number of tyres, they’re often not the same type of tyre, and the tracks moving quite quickly as well, so it’s a great advantage to be able to go just spend a whole day on something.”
Lowe believes the current rules and regulations in F1 make it tough for a rookie to find their feet, and the extra test at COTA, as well as the seven-month test programme Stroll completed on numerous different race tracks last year (also in a 2014 specification machine), has definitely helped the 18-year-old development wise.
“Certainly, I feel like Lance’s Formula 1 career is now properly launched. You could argue this is the most difficult time to come in as a rookie with the current formula and the current situation.
“Experienced drivers are really struggling themselves, world champions struggling to make the tyres work in certain situations. We saw Lewis even said this in February in Barcelona, it was a difficult time to enter the sport as a rookie.”
Being allowed to complete testing in-season is not the norm in F1 and has attracted some negative reaction, especially with Stroll’s long-time critic Jacques Villeneuve.
With further track time believed to be in the pipeline for Stroll, the 1997 world champion does not feel it is fair to allow the Canadian this extra “tutoring”.
“He did well, but also he’s the only driver who tests between races. That’s a little bit tough to swallow.
“Money has to have a limit, and that’s pushing it.”