The chiefs of Williams and Racing Point Force India team have defended the presence of Lance Stroll in Formula 1.
Ever since the former FIA European Formula 3 Championship winner came into F1 last year with Williams, it has been hard for Stroll to answer back the critics questioning his talent to be in the sport on merit.
However, time and again Williams has defended Stroll’s position in F1. The young Canadian driver finished 12th last year with 40 points which included a surprise podium in Baku. He was only three points behind the experienced teammate Felipe Massa.
Stroll was retained by Williams amid calls for Robert Kubica to get the seat with Sergey Sirotkin partnering the Canadian driver. This year though has been a disaster for the team with only Stroll scoring the four points in Baku itself.
Since his father Lawrence has bought Force India, it is widely speculated that Stroll Jr will switch teams in 2019 but if all goes well, he may even get the nod in 2018 itself with Singapore GP said to be the race for the switch replacing one of the two drivers.
When asked the chiefs of both Williams and Force India, they agreed to Stroll competing in F1 on merit rather than because of his dad’s money. “I’ve talked about this point a lot over the past 18 months,” started Claire Williams.
“I think the crux of it for us is that as a team, as you would expect, we wouldn’t put a driver in our car for a variety of different reasons if we didn’t feel that they had the ability to race a Formula One car.
“These machines are not easy to drive, they’re dangerous, you want to make sure you’ve got somebody who’s competent enough to be in that race car and Lance has proved that. I also believe that over the time that he’s spent with us at Williams, that he’s demonstrated that he’s got talent and that he deserves to be in this sport.
“He had a season last year in his rookie year where he took the first row of the grid in Monza, I think it was. He took a podium, one of the only drivers to do so last year outside of the top three teams.
“So, I don’t think that you can say that Lance is only in this sport because of his father.” Force India’s new team principal Otmar Szafnauer concurred: “Lance, for sure, especially in the lower formulas, has proven to be a race winner, a winner of championships.
“We’ve been watching him too because he’s a competitor of ours and the one thing Claire didn’t add is that every time it rains it seems like his talent shines and that’s usually the sign of a driver that has great car control
“We don’t know him intimately but for sure he deserves to be in this sport, not just because of his dad.” Stroll’s intended move to Force India is certain to create a chain reaction with as many as five teams to be affected. It remains to be seen who goes where.