He made the headlines for bizarre reasons in Malaysia, after his and Sebastian Vettel’s post-race collision. But that overshadowed another strong points finish for Williams’ Lance Stroll. In fact the Canadian rookie is now all but level in the standings with team mate Felipe Massa, one of the most experienced drivers on the grid. We spoke exclusively to Stroll about his burgeoning maiden season, the form of the FW40, how he relaxes off track, and who might line up alongside him in 2018…
Q: Just one point behind team mate Felipe in the standings – what does that tell you? He is an extremely experienced driver and you are in your rookie season…
Lance Stroll: Ha, I just do my thing. That’s all. On a personal level I would add: a pretty good rookie season. It developed into one, given the slow start.
Q: So how hard was it to swallow the slow start and bloom into a points contender? You answered this question before, but maybe things change with every race that passes…
LS: As I said many times before, a rookie season is all about learning and adapting. Starting to think in big pictures. So yes, it was not so easy to find one’s own space in this environment. But I have always figured things out from a young age and I never doubted my abilities and the last couple of races are a good pay-off – also thanks to the people around me who took me step-by-step and helped my rise.
Q: You are still almost a month shy of your 19th birthday – a teenager still! Can you say how many years you have aged in these last couple of months?
LS: Ha, hopefully not too much! (Laughs) Maybe I have matured racing-wise, but as I person I don’t think much has changed. I have seen the world, I have experienced different cuisines, different kinds of people, and all that has been an amazing life experience. Not too many people get to see all that…
Q: …did it help to blend in better in F1?
LS: Not necessarily. Actually it has not much to do with F1. It was just that I have been given the chance to see a lot of cool things that can open your mind.
Q: Have you been a bit disappointed by the car’s performance? Give Williams have Mercedes power, you could argue they are underperforming?
LS: Well, the car is the car. It is no secret that we are not where we want to be at every race, but that is how it goes. As long as I am doing a good job, that’s fine. Of course I am disappointed at times like everybody else in the team, but F1 is an ongoing sporting development. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes not. Yes, we have started stronger than where we are now – we have dropped back at certain circuits – but I consider it as part of the game.
Q: After Singapore you were playing golf in Bali. How was it?
LS: It was good. I like the sport, as it is good for your head.
Q: Your handicap?
LS: Let’s make it 11 or 12 on a good day – and 35 on a bad one! So between 12 and 35. (Laughs) That’s golf!