Billionaire Lawrence Stroll has inked a mega deal for his son Lance Stroll to drive for Mercedes as of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix as Williams failed to provide the 19-year-old Canadian with a decent car by the evidence of a woeful Australian Grand Prix weekend for the team.
Immediately after young Stroll emerged from his car, after crossing the finish line second last of all the cars running at the end, he told reporters in Montreal, “We cannot perform with this car, it’s as simple as that.”
Word is that at the same time, immediately after the race Stroll senior stormed out of the Williams hospitality area and made a dash to the Mercedes motorhome where he disappeared inside.
Sources have made public an ‘undercover’ recording of which here is the transcription:
Note: Voices appear to be those of Lawrence Stroll as well as Mercedes chiefs Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff.
Lawrence: Gentlemen I am not happy with what happened today with my son
Toto: Yes that car seems a handful for him
Lawrence: Let’s cut to the chase… I want my boy Lance in your Silver Arrows in 2019.
Toto: With all due respect Lawrence this is impossible we have contracts and drivers and…
Lawrence: Look I got you the Hilfiger deal, I still pull strings there. What’s that 10 million? Or 12 mil? I will slap on a zero at the end of that number and then do we have us a deal?
Niki: Yes for sure! I like your boy Lance he was great in Baku and Monza. We can develop and evolve him like we have done with our boys. Fantastic…
Toto: What about Valtteri…
Niki: Toto!? Please he drives our beautiful Mercedes like a tractor. He is your boy but please enough is enough.
Lawrence: Gentlemen no need to squabble do we have us a deal? Because I am going to Ferrari next and Sergio [Marchionne] will like the sound of 150 mil added to his budget to get rid of Kimi and that zimmer-frame of his and let my kid do his thing in a Ferrari…
Lawrence: In fact, Ferrari gave me the…
Niki: No, no, no, no. Deal, deal, deal! Bring the papers we sign.
Toto: Yes bring the papers…
Lawrence: One more thing if you can sort out the seat starting with Bahrain for the rest of the season I will throw in another 50 big ones. If we gonna do it let’s do it right and now!
Niki: Yes! Deal!
Toto: In light of the situation you have clearly explored and presented so astutely to us, I have to agree with…
Niki: In other words: Done deal!
Lawrence: Thanks. My guys will get in touch with your guys and swap ink or Toto just WhatsApp me Merc F1 account IBAN and we shift the first instalment over to your team bank account.
Mercedes insiders say it was a classic offer they could not refuse, primarily because of the very attractive financial implications, however, a decision aided no doubt by a weekend to forget in Australia for Valtteri Bottas.
It is well known that Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein are contenders for Bottas’ seat should they eject the Finn, but this is now irrelevant as the deal between the Stroll’s and Mercedes will be announced next week when Formula 1 gathers again in Bahrain for round two of the world championship.
Insiders explained that Mercedes will trigger a performance-related clause which Bottas has failed to meet and terminate his deal with minimal compensation as Stroll’s credit with Williams allows them to place Bottas back with the team.
An announcement is expected on Tuesday ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.
For Williams and the Strolls, it’s a win-win situation. The Grove outfit get in Bottas an experienced driver they know well back in their car and young Stroll, as he has become accustomed in his short life, gets the best seat in the house.
What a difference two weeks makes when money is involved, Stroll will now in Bahrain share a pit garage with four times F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton when in Melbourne he was stabled up next to relative unknown rookie Sergey Sirotkin.