Inside Line: Path to Formula 1 is a Stroll if you have billions

By all accounts there are two types of very wealthy fathers: those who give their off-spring very little and want them to earn their own money the hard way and those who give their off-spring whatever they want.

The children that fall in the latter category either wallow in that money partying and drugging themselves though life or those who go out there and make something of their lives.

Lawrence Stroll is worth $2.6 billion and apparently that fortune is growing at a consistent rate.

He has two children: Chloe and Lance. The latter, at eighteen is a a Formula 1 driver thanks to his father’s billions.

There is no doubt that young Stroll is a Williams driver thanks to his father’s bucks. Without the budget that has been allocated to getting him to Formula 1 he would most certainly not be racing against the best drivers in the world right now.

Nevertheless his career is littered with success. The championships he has entered he has won, one can point to unlimited budgets as being instrumental to his success. Even during his early karting years young Stroll only had the best of the best at his disposal.

As he progressed into single-seater racing he again lacked for nothing. It is well known that father Lawrence bought the Prema F3 team and put respected Ferrari engineer Luca Baldisserri in charge to oversee his son’s campaign. He was the clear number one in the team. He won the 2016 FIA European F3 Championship.

Formula 1 was next on the radar and elder Stroll looked around and targeted Williams for the next step in his son’s rapid progress to the pinnacle of the sport.

It can be argued that the lad is struggling in his first season of Formula 1 thanks to an obvious lack of experience. The new cars are tough to drive and his debut season has not been a stroll in the park. Although a fine third place (almost second) at the recent incident packed Azerbaijan Grand Prix has gone a long way to justifying his presence on the grid and temporarily silencing the cynics.

But that has come with a cost of tens of millions of dollars. Some estimates are that $80 million has been the cost to get Stroll where he is. But honestly relative to the $2.6 billion in the family bank, that amount is loose change.

Fellow Canadian and former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has labeled the teenager the worst rookie ever and allegedly got a ban from the Williams motor-home. The team refuse to comment on the ‘ban’ they imposed on the driver who bagged their last drivers’ title back in 1997.

Money talks, it also buys influence and in this instance cash may well make a grand prix winner of a driver who has a bag full of talent, but his arrival on the F1 scene is at least two seasons premature. A couple of years in the hustle and bustle of Formula 2 would no doubt have polished the rough diamond.

But why wait?

That was no doubt the obvious question Stroll senior asked himself. With money in abundance to blow he sat down with Williams and they concocted a programme to get Lance race ready for Formula 1, because they could. Money was not an issue.

For Williams, who are a shadow of the grand team they once were, the financial windfall was far too tempting to turn down. In motor sport it is no secret that the more money you throw at things the more chance you have at success.

Of course this unique mode of fast-tracking a teenager from a karter to a Formula 1 driver in record time, has attracted criticism and a load of detractors. But from what I can discern billionaires don’t give a sh!t what others think. It’s their way or the highway.

And honestly if I had $2.6 billion in my bank I would do exactly the same.

My son loves karting and is pretty handy at it too. So why not bankroll and speed up his path to Formula 1 if that is his dream. Had this been a path that fate had intended for us (including the billions in my bank) I too would want the absolute best for him without compromise.

The journey would start with a trip to TonyKart to arrange a factory drive for him. If they refused I would simply buy the company. Then a trip to the best kart engine builder and ensure he gets the best of the best. Any objections then again I would simply buy the company.

Then I would buy the biggest and best motorhome in existence (with driver of course) and off we would go and do karting every weekend across Europe.

  • What about school for the little guy?
  • No problem. Will sort out a couple of the best tutors available to provide schooling as we traveled.

Because he has some talent, coupled to the best equipment at his disposal, he wins many races and championships, shining on the karting stage.

  • Next up a season or two in Formula 4?
  • Why he is 16, let’s put him in Formula 3 now!
  • But he has no experience…
  • Okay you are fired for being negative, now let’s find a team who believes my boy can be a Formula 3 driver and have capacity to provide him the best car.
  • Sorry boss no one wants to take the risk.
  • Okay then let’s find the best F3 team and buy it. Also go head hunt the best brain in Formula 1 to oversee my son in his single seater debut season.

A couple of years later my son wins the premier F3 title.

  • Now what?
  • Formula 2 obviosuly so he can learn the tracks and develop his race craft.
  • No, I want Formula 1. Find a team that will take him, provide him unlimited testing in a four year old F1 car and let’s go to every grand prix venue and test, test,test.
  • But that will be expensive…
  • How much?
  • About 20 million.
  • No problem do it.
  • But there are many very talented young drivers who are more deserving of a step up into F1.
  • Why does this matter to us? Tell someone who cares. Get him into a F1 team asap. Just do it!

A willing F1 team is found. A mega-bucks deal is struck. A year or so later, with tons of F1 testing miles on my son’s CV he will be the best prepared driver in the recent history of the sport.

  • Time to get him on to the Formula 1 grid for real.
  • Seriously?
  • Yes, you have a problem with that? Last negative guy got the boot…
  • Okay spoke to the team and $30 million gets you a season with them.
  • LOL that’s cheaper than I thought. Do the deal but throw in $10 million more and make sure they have an experienced guy as his teammate to partner him and guide him.

Thus the journey into Formula 1 for my son is complete. Invariably the learning curve in the deep end is steep. My son is struggling with the cars. Making quite a few boo-boos along the way.

  • Why is everyone laughing and being so mean to my boy?
  • Because F1 is a different animal and people are not intimidated by money.
  • Not fair he is not doing so bad. Okay he is one second down on a slowing veteran who is his teammate. But other rookies are also struggling against their teammates.

So my son’s rookie season trundles along and then one day the stars align in such a way that he finds himself, against all odds and predictions, on the podium.

  • You see he is amazing. We knew he could do it! It was all worth it. Chump change and he is an F1 driver with a podium to his name in his rookie season.
  • Yes amazing now let’s see who will throw the first punch.

Enter a Jacques Villeneuve style villain who labels my kid rubbish, podium was a fluke.

  • What’s with this guy and why is he in the team’s motorhome. Get him out of here.
  • Sure boss, spoke to team chief and despite the fact that he is their last F1 World Champion he has been banned from the motorhome.
  • Great. Don’t need negativity around my boy. And also he did so well to get the podium, send our yacht to the med. Find a hot starlet and let them hang out together before the next race. Oh yes, alert the paparazzi.

But after the podium euphoria the struggles continue for my lad. The talent is still there of course but the state of readiness obviously not.

  • What now boss?
  • My lad is here to stay. We will continue throwing money at this thing until he is established. Make a three year deal with the team and throw them another $100 million as a sweetner.
  • Deal is done boss, team very happy to carry on and they loved the extra 100. They believe in him…
  • Time will tell if my boy becomes a grand prix winner. Whatever the case, eight races into his career and he already has a podium to his name. Guys like Nico Hulkenberg have never stood on a podium despite seven years of trying! So there.

Okay that is my fantasy story of being a billionaire father guiding my son to his dream. Back to reality and the $26 balance in my bank account as opposed to the $2.6 billion.

If you fall in the category of a father that wants only the best for his son, and remember money is absolutely not an issue. The cash spent on getting Lance what he wants is petty cash for Lawrence.

Would you not do exactly the same for your son what Lawrence has done for his boy? Because I know I would.

Big Question: Would you do the same for your son as Lawrence has done to get Lance into Formula 1?