Jacques Villeneuve always calls it as he sees it, recently the 1997 Formula 1 World Champion claimed that Lance Stroll was the worst rookie of all time and despite the teenager’s good showing in Baku his fellow Canadian will not retract what he said and went further, questioning why the Williams rookie is allowed to test between races.
Since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where Stroll finished third, it has emerged that before Baku the Williams team set up camp at Circuit of the Americas for private testing with the teenager at the wheel of a 2014 Williams FW36.
Villeneuve saidin an interview, “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.”
Of Stroll’s early season struggles, he admitted, “I always said until Montreal that it was pathetic, and it was. But I always said he won in everything he did with work, and the same thing would probably happen here, as long as they look at reality in the face.”
“You have to admit when you are not good enough. That’s all.So I don’t know why people are getting so upset. You can’t go out and say: he’s amazing – when he’s a second off the pace of Massa.”
“You still have to be real. Montreal was helpful and [Baku] was good, but that won’t change what I said earlier in the season. Wake up. People have to pay attention to what’s being said. You have to be realistic and understand the truth, that’s all.”
“Look at last year: when [Max] Verstappen was to be criticised I would, and when it became good, I was positive with Lance. I won’t back down on what I said before, because he wasn’t at the level. This race he was, very simple.”
“The points in Montreal helped him. He wasn’t quick in Montreal, but everybody broke down, he kept his nose clean, he got points, and that took a weight off his shoulders.”
“You could see it [in Baku]. When everybody was banging into each other, he wasn’t. Yes he was lucky, but he was also quick, he didn’t do any stupid things, and he got on the podium. Nothing wrong with that.”
“But [Baku] was the first race where he was not hanging on for dear life behind the steering wheel. He was actually relaxed, he was driving normally. Why would I criticise that? But that doesn’t mean the beginning of the season was good, ” concluded Villeneuve.
Meanwhile responding to the criticism, 18 year old Stroll fired back, “Jacques is always negative, finding things to say. Even with Vettel and Hamilton now, with him thinking what happened in Baku was ok when everyone else thinks the opposite.”
“I prefer to concentrate on my business. He did not encourage me last year when I won the F3 championship, and it was the same in the first races this year when I was having difficulty.”
“So I was not surprised to hear his words. But the important thing is that I am happy, and the people around me are happy,” added Stroll who became the youngest rookie in F1 history to finish on a grand prix podium with his performance in Baku, which also earned him Driver of the Day as voted by fans.