There is no doubt that money has talked in getting Lance Stroll to Formula 1, and now that he is at the pinnacle of the sport he has nowhere to hide and needs to deliver irrespective of what he brings to a race team.
The fact that he is the son of billionaire Lawrence Stroll, who has spared no money in getting his son to the top, has inevitably plagued his early days as a F1 driver. He told ESPN how he deals with the question of money getting him to where he is.
“You just turn it off, but at the same time you have to look at the facts,” explained Stroll. “I’m not here to prove anyone wrong, I’m here to do it for myself and my team.”
“I’m not here to show the critics, or whatever it is, I know why I’m here and that I deserve to be here. I won Formula 3 championship and was the youngest ever to win it, and by a massive margin, and a lot of work went into it.”
“And now, youngest rookie to ever be on the podium, that’s an accomplishment and I think for people to take that away from me and say it’s just money, it’s not true. Showing those results, looking at the points, I’m still in the [midfield] mix.”
“There will still be hard weekends, good weekends, that’s how it works, but I’ve proven I belong to be here in F1. The results speak for themselves.”
Stroll enjoyed a successful junior career, from karting through to single-seaters, always provided with the best-of-the-best equipment and infra-structure thanks to his father’s money.
He acknowledges, “I know why I’m here. I can’t deny the reality, the reality is I had a great opportunity growing up as a kid that not a lot of people have. I was very fortunate to come from where I come from and be able to make that move from Canada to Europe to pursue my dreams.”
“But I grabbed it with both hands and I won my championships to get here, I won my Formula 4 championship, I won my Formula 3 championship, I did all that and I got my superlicence points which not everyone can get. You have to go out and deliver the results to get that and get into Formula One.”
“So that’s where my focus is at, I’m very thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given growing up as a kid, but at the same time I worked really hard to get here. I could easily be running around in last place with all the money in the world. But that’s not how I did it, and that’s what matters to me.”
“Also in Formula One you need, other than if you’re in the top three teams, you need some backing to help you, even in the lower ranks, motorsport is incredibly expensive. I have sponsors as well who have backed me other than my father, so there’s more to the story than just my father’s money,” added Stroll.
The Canadian 18 year old did struggle early on this season as he came to terms with the new cars and the pressures of Formula 1 on and off the track, but a mature drive at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix resulted in third place and lifted the shadow of doubt that was a lot darker before then than it is now.
Formula 1 has always been a sport where wealthy drivers managed to ‘make it’ ahead of much more talented rivals. It is the name of the game from the first championship back in 1950 and will always be so.
Many of these wealthy drivers came and went without notice, while others enjoyed success and even victories. Stroll in his first season, after 11 races, has a podium finish on his CV – something the highly rated Nico Hulkenberg has yet to achieve in 126 grand prix starts.
Big Question: Is Lance doing enough to justify his place on the F1 grid?