Stroll: I don’t think it proves a point

Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll became only the second teenager in Formula 1 history to record a podium finish when he marked his rookie season with his maiden third place in a wild Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Driving his Williams with calm aplomb on an afternoon of chaos, the 18-year-old Canadian silenced his critics with his top-three finish in only his eighth outing.

He was just 12 days older than Dutchman Max Verstappen was when he won the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix on debut with Red Bull.

“I am a bit lost for words,” said Stroll. “It was such an intense race, a crazy race, and so much happened – the red flag and hopping out of the car and hopping back in and having to reset. It happened so quickly.

“Where we did well was to stay out of trouble, let some other drivers make mistakes and get to the end. I can’t describe how I feel. It’s a dream come true – every racing driver wants to stand on the podium at a Formula 1 race.”

At his home Canadian Grand Prix recently, Stroll was ninth. On Sunday, he was only beaten to second place by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas on the final straight.

“I don’t think it proves a point,” said Stroll who came in for a stream of criticism for his results earlier in the season. I don’t listen to that stuff, it is just noise.”

“I had it last year when I had the perfect year and this year when I had some tough times. I am just happy with myself. It is all just noise in the background, I don’t care,” he added.

Stroll did a test in a 2014 Williams car to prepare himself last year and is continuing that this year, having made a set-up breakthrough when he tested again at Austin, in Texas, after the Canada race.

“Sometimes jumping F3 to F1 is quite big and it took time to try to understand,” said Stroll.

“We took a different direction with the set-up, shifting away after Bahrain and from Barcelona taking a different direction with the car.

“We came back to it this weekend and that set-up gives me more confidence, I am able to push the car. It gives me confidence and comfort. I will keep working on things moving forward.

“I can improve a lot, it just takes a bit of time. This year is a very different formula for me and I need to experience it, come back and figure this and that out.”

Big Question: Is this performance by Lance enough to silence his critics?