Williams rookie Lance Stroll was the revelation of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, a veritable coming of age for the 18 year old, who admitted after the race that he felt for pole sitter Lewis Hamilton starting beside him on the front row.
Speaking to reporters after starting second and finishing in seventh at Monza, Stroll said, “I felt for Lewis, it must have felt really nervous starting next to me on the grid, a guy with no experience!”
“Lewis and I are cool, he knows I won’t do anything stupid and that’s good there’s that respect there. He definitively trusted me, I was talking to him before the start of the race and he didn’t worry about me smashing into him at the first corner.”
Stroll impressed in the rain affected, marathon qualifying on Saturday. He was constantly at the sharp end of the timing screens driving in wet and tricky conditions he had never experienced before in a Formula 1 car. He qualified fourth fastest, behind Hamilton and the Red Bull duo. But Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen served engine penalties which promoted the Canadian teenager to second place on the grid.
Stroll reflected on the feat, “Qualifying was the highlight of the weekend, to be able to do what I did in tricky conditions, when the car doesn’t matter so much and it comes down to the driver. To capitalize on those moments is very special.”
It was a big moment in the youngster’s short career, a day where he earned the respect of the Formula 1 world – drivers, teams and fans alike.
He acknowledged, “For sure this was a real opportunity. Being in the positions where I was, under pressure, pit stops being important, attacking, defending, using the best engine modes at the right time, knowing when is the best time to push the overtake button, when is the best time to use the deployment, to overtake the car in front of me…”
“Those are things I learn every time I jump in the car, and I take every opportunity to race in the way I raced. Races like Italy, Baku, even Austria where I finished in 10th place, they were all in pretty similar circumstances to the ones I had, so I just feel I’m getting better and better when I have the chance to race like I did [at Monza],” added Stroll.