Lance Stroll secured only his second career Formula 1 podium in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, but the young Canadian admitted third wasn’t the best of outcomes as the race win was his for the taking.
The BWT Racing Point Formula One Team racer was ahead of eventual race winner Pierre Gasly at the restart, but wheelspin saw him fall behind the Frenchman, and ultimately he was forced to settle for third as both the Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver and McLaren F1 Team’s Carlos Sainz Jr. fought over first place.
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix of 2017 was the first and only time Stroll stood on the podium in Formula 1 before the weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, and although he acknowledges luck came into why he was so far up the order at the restart, it was still a great feeling for him to be back finishing inside the top three.
“It’s been a while since I’ve stood on the podium, but it was worth the wait to get my second one!” said Stroll. “It feels great to be back on the podium, I’m still pinching myself!
“It’s a weird scenario in a red flag situation – we don’t usually get an intermission during races! You just have to reset and prepare. Firstly, I want to congratulate Pierre, it was such a crazy race, but he fully deserved that win. He had a great launch at the restart and was so consistent after that.
“It’s a bit of a bummer for me, because I think it was our race to win. I had no grip at the restart and had too much wheelspin, so I lost a few places and fell back to P6. I had a good battle with Carlos after getting some places back – I overtook him but he got me back and I was pushing for the win right to the end.
“We got a bit of luck with the timing of the red flag, but that’s part of Formula 1 and I’ll take it when it comes! Regardless, I’m delighted with third today. I’m so happy for the team – thanks to them for giving me such a strong car.”
“It’s a day of celebration for everybody at Racing Point” – Otmar Szafnauer
Otmar Szafnauer, the CEO and Team Principal of Racing Point, congratulated Stroll on his efforts, and the American feels the Canadian really deserved the champagne on what was a strong day for him.
Luck was not on the side of Sergio Pérez on the other side of the garage, with the Mexican scoring only one point for tenth place after being thwarted by the same safety car that Stroll profited from, but overall, Szafnauer was delighted with the performance at Monza by the team.
“Congratulations to Lance and the whole team for today’s podium – the first of the Racing Point era,” said Szafnauer. “It was a day all about taking opportunities and I’m very proud of the whole team.
“Lance battled hard today – making some excellent overtaking moves – and he really deserves this result. On the other hand, the luck didn’t go Sergio’s way today and his chances of scoring good points ended when the safety car came out.
“All in all though, it’s a day of celebration for everybody at Racing Point. It’s great to taste the champagne again and today’s silverware is a fitting reward for the efforts back at base and trackside this year.”
“Anything that could go wrong seemed to happen to us” – Sergio Pérez
Pérez congratulated his team-mate for the podium finish but the Mexican admitted it was a case of what might have been for him, having run inside the top eight in the early laps before being caught out by the safety car.
The thirty-year-old criticised Lando Norris for slowing the pack up heading into the pit lane, which left him vulnerable from behind, and ultimately, he was well down the pack at the restart and only tenth at the chequered flag.
“Well done to Lance and the team on the podium, it’s a great result,” said Pérez. “From my side, it’s been a disappointing day. Anything that could go wrong seemed to happen to us.
“I had a poor start at the beginning of the race and lost places to the McLarens and Bottas. But then things started to look up for us. Lando then slowed down excessively in the pitlane during the pit window – which I think was dangerous – and we had a slow pit stop and that was costly.
“Max [Verstappen] also crashed into me at Turn 2 after my stop and he damaged my car, so after the restart I had to drive with the damage. The main positive is that I was able to recover to get back into P10 and earn a point – and the team had a great day with Lance’s finish too.”