Lance Stroll has a had a rookie Formula 1 season characterised by ups-and-downs which attracted a barrage of criticism, but the Williams teenager is insists that he does not pay attention to negative reports and has given himself an impressive score with regards to his performance during his debut season at the pinnacle of the sport.
It is well known that Stroll had a gilt edged road to Formula 1, his father’s billions opening many doors in the junior series’ and indeed securing his son a drive with Williams for 2017.
But once in the cockpit there was nowhere to hide for the youngster as he burst on to the scene as Formula 1 rolled out the fastest cars in the history of the sport.
His early season struggles are well documented, but at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix he silenced many of his detractors with an impressive performance in a race of high attrition, packed with incidents. He finished third, claiming his first podium in his debut season. It is also the only podium by a Williams driver in the 19 races run so far this season.
In Mexico, another race of high attrition, he showed his resilience to finish sixth and now with a race remaining in the championship has 40 points to his credit – only two short of his veteran teammate Felipe Massa.
Asked by Auto Motor und Sport what score he would give his season, Stroll replied, “There is always room to improve. So I would not give myself a 10, I would say a consistent 8.5. We had a good season, got many points and some important results. A nine would be too generous . ”
Critics have been many, including fellow countryman Jacques Villeneuve who said recently, “Something has to happen during the winter because he’s been better than that in the other categories. He needs to figure something out. He needs to have a slower teammate. He needs to find a way to go faster.”
But the criticism does not bather the 19 year old, “I’m not concentrating on what they say or write about me. I do not read newspapers, nor listen to the hateful and jealous. I have listened to the people around me, who support me and work on my side.”
“I never had any doubts about myself. I am young and it is my first season. I’ve won everything before getting to Formula 1. I’ve shown to myself and to the world that I am able to win races and championships. Now there’s a new target and a new category to fit into and grow.”
Stroll looks set for another season with Williams and is adamant, “I can improve in every respect. There are so many small things. I can become a better and more complete driver, but it needs time and experience. I am very young and it is my first season.”
“I will have to work on the small details that have a lot to do with performance. We also hope to have a more competitive car next year. I want to be a better driver by using the accumulated experience. I’m convinced I’ll be stronger next year, even by just knowing the F1 tracks already,” added Stroll.
Big Question: Out of ten, what score does Lance deserve for his rookie season in F1?