Is Lance Stroll really a pay driver?
There's no doubt that Lance Stroll got into F1 thanks to his father, but does he deserve to stay?
There are mixed views as next year Sebastian Vettel is set to replace Sergio Perez rather than Lance Stroll at the newly branded team Aston Martin, leaving the Mexican veteran without a job. So far this season Perez is ahead of teammate Lance Stroll with 82 points compared to the Canadian's 57 points. Clearly, at the moment, Perez is the better driver, but as Stroll's father owns the team, obviously Stroll was not going to be replaced, but does this mean Stroll doesn't deserve his seat?
Before his entry into F1, Stroll's achievements had consisted of the 2014 Italian F4 championship, the 2015 Totota Racing Series Championship and the 2016 FIA European F3 championship. He had also been a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy from 2010 to 2015, but at the end of 2015, Stroll announced that he was leaving to become a test driver for Williams.
Stroll made his Formula 1 debut at Williams in 2017 at the age of 18, making him the second youngest driver to start a race, having won the F3 European championship the previous year. Yes, he jumped from F3 to F1. However, despite missing F2, he had a successful debut season achieving a third place podium at Baku and finishing twelth in the drivers championship despite four retirements. He was only three points behind then experienced teammate Felipe Massa.
However, his next few seasons were not so successful, finishing 18th in 2018 (at Williams) and 15th in 2019 (at Racing Point), he was consistently outside the top ten besides on eight occasions throughout the two years. Despite any bad performances though, there's no doubt that his place at Racing Point (or Aston Martin next year) is guaranteed safe, at least for the next few years, as a result of his father, billionaire Lawrence Stroll, owning the team. But does Stroll really deserve his seat? Is he really a pay driver?
Yes, Stroll does deserve to stay. This season he has driven much better, with a third place podium at Mugello and constantly fighting for a top six position. Unfortunately, four DNF's and a withdrawal from the Eifel GP as a result of illness has kept him at 11th in the championship, but with the help of Sergio Perez (and Nico Hulkenberg, of course!) Racing Point sit in third in the constructors championship so far. Of course, his better positioning has been a result of the Racing Points development but he has been able to stick close with Perez, Perez outracing him only 7 to 6 so far this season compared to last season where Stroll lost 16 to 5. As well as this season's performance, Stroll's championships in F4 and F3 and his two podiums in F1 proves that he has the skill and ability to perform and get results. Personally, I reckon when he joined in 2018, he was lacking in experience which he would have gained if he'd raced in F2 for a year or two.
I think the problem Stroll has is that his father's money is such a defining part of his career so far that it is easy to criticise when he makes a mistake, which is not as rare as he'd like. However, his future at Aston Martin with new teammate Sebastian Vettel for the 2021 season looks bright and I think we'll definitely see a change in performance from the Canadian driver. Personally, I think Stroll does deserve his seat and really, he shouldn't be a pay driver, he has enough talent to get into F1 and stay there comfortably, although he's yet to prove it, he has got two podiums to his name and we can see a huge improvement with his results, its only a matter of time.