Felipe Massa has defended his under-fire Williams teenage teammate Lance Stroll amid suggestions, by his own admission, that the Canadian rookie treats his career like a computer game.
The back-from-retirement Brazilian reacted after eighteen year old Stroll crashed on the entry to Casino Square during Thursday’s second practice session.
Massa was sympathetic to his teammate’s difficulties on his first acquaintance with arguably the most demanding, technical and unforgiving circuit on the calendar.
“It’s his first weekend in Monaco and many drivers have accidents,” said Massa. “Perhaps we should just say ‘Welcome to Monaco!’
“I think Lance did a good lap, he was more competitive than in Barcelona, so that’s a positive, but of course Monaco is Monaco and he must understand that a mistake here can cost him his session.”
Stroll said afterwards that he had attacked the corners at the top of the hill and made his mark, but added a comparison to PlayStation that drew widespread criticism.
“It really pissed me off, because every time I play the PlayStation game, it’s always those corners that I can’t get right and in reality it’s still those two corners,” he said.
“I just sent it in, kind of looking for the limit. I lost the rear and got into the dirt a little bit – a typical street circuit mistake. If you don’t touch the wall in Monaco, you’re not on the limit.”
His somewhat cavalier approach to his job, and his multi-millionaire father’s role in paying for his drive at Williams, have left Stroll in an isolated position in his first season.
That position is not helped by the damage to his Williams car and the stunning impact and progress of Dutch teenager Max Verstappen with Toro Rosso and Red Bull.
“I was really happy with the day, other than the little crash at the end,” he said. “It’s just one of those things in Monaco… that happens.
“I think a lot of drivers touched the barriers today. On the positive side, it was my first time on this track and I had good pace. I touched the barriers, but at least I know I attacked and have something to work on for Saturday.””
Stroll’s father Lawrence made his fortune through investment in the Tommy Hilfiger brand, but junior Stroll has struggled since he entered F1 and his best finish was 11th at the Russian Grand Prix.
He said: “I come from a background that, when I win, people try and put me down and, when I lose, people try and put me down… I accept that and I actually find it kind of funny, but that’s out of my control. I’m focused on what I’m doing.”