Lance Stroll commented on his early-season pace in his rookie Formula 1 season, and said that it would have been ambitious for anyone to assume that he would ‘blow everyone away at eighteen years old’.
Stroll had a tough entry to Formula 1 following in the footsteps of Max Verstappen, the last driver to make the direct jump from the FIA European Formula 3 Championship into the premiere level of single seater motorsport, failing to score in his first six races, but has since started to show his promise.
Verstappen was always going to be a hard act to follow for the Canadian teenager, who faced much negativity before the season even started. Spins and crashes during pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona did not help this, nor did non-finishes in his first three races, although none of those were down to his driving.
Since then The Canadian seems to have found his stride though, taking his first points at his home race in Canada before a shock third place finish in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after an extremely strong and clean weekend where others around him were losing their heads.
Williams Martini Racing’s Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe told Motorsport.com that, whilst it has been tough, he thinks Stroll has “cracked” Formula 1. He also thinks that the eighteen-year-old has maturity beyond his years which has shown through, and that more is to come as he gains experience.
“There were some very difficult periods, but actually I feel he’s cracked it now and we can only really get better from here,” said Lowe. “He is racing really well.
“He shows great maturity on race day, that was no more clear than in the race in Baku. He kept his head, stayed clear of trouble while still maintaining good pace. That sort of maturity normally takes some years to become apparent, so I think he’s showing great promise in that respect.”
As for Stroll, he says he’s approaching each race ‘weekend by weekend’, though is keen to downplay any expectations that might be levied against him.
“You can’t put your expectations through the roof,” said Stroll. “If you surprise yourself, great, but if you don’t then just work from there – any other mindset would be wrong.
“If you expect to come in and blow everyone away at 18 years old, that’s a bit ambitious. The realistic mindset, being in the process, taking it weekend by weekend, concentrating on one thing at a time, that’s the best way to compete.
“If you let emotions into it and start getting ahead of yourself, it normally goes downhill from there.”