Lance Stroll Has Actually Earned His Seat
Forever labelled as a pay driver, is it time to admit he is not actually bad
Lance Stroll came into Formula 1 back in 2017 and he didn't come into to a good reception. This due to his pay driver status. But over his four Formula 1 seasons, has he started to finally prove to everyone he deserves his seat on the grid?
Stroll entered the pinnacle of motorsport at only eighteen years old with Williams Racing and he partner Felipe Massa. In his first season, he achieved twelfth place in the championship standings with forty points to his name. This was not enough to stop criticism falling his way. Despite the facts, he managed to take a brilliant podium in the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as he took third. He then stood out in the wet qualifying session in Monza, as he started on the front row. Thanks to a beautiful lap which secured him fourth in the session but the Red Bull Racing drivers took penalties and he took second on the grid to start the race.
However, among fans, Stoll was considered not needed and it seemed people believed so many other drivers deserved a shot at F1. Unfortunately, the stats were not on his side because was hampered by a torrid Williams Racing car, as the team rapidly declined to the back on the F1 grid. He finished with six points in his second season. He did not impress anyone.
It was at this point his father, Lawerence Stroll, acquired Force India, now Racing Point. A team which had two talented drivers of Esteban Ocon and Sergio "Checo" Perez. Stroll's not great season at Williams meant his move to his father's team was not well received.
But his time at Racing Point, he has ultimately started to prove himself. He came into Formula 1 with a good record from junior Formula. Stroll won in Italian Formula 4, with seven wins and thirteen podiums and Italian F4 is one hell of a competitive series, it is a route which many drivers go through. Then he also had Euro Formula 3 to back him up, where he won easily. While in F3 he beat the likes of Athonie Hubert, Callum Illott and George Russell. He started backing this impressive junior career up.
This season in 2020 has easily been Stroll's stand out season. His teammate in Perez is considered one of the best driver's in the midfield. Despite missing two races, it seems Stroll has been comfortably on top of Perez this season in the RP20.
2020 has seen Stroll perform to his best level in F1. 2019 was an okay year for the team but their newfound budget had not yet influenced the car. But it has this year and Stroll and Perez have been gifted with a pretty quick RP20, which takes clear inspiration from the W10 by Mercedes.
Stroll has continually used the tools he has this season to his advantage. He has retired twice this season, the first race in Austria and Mugello. But out the races he has finished he has always been in the points.
The Canadian has doubled his points from 2019 and has shown what a good racer he can be, with his brilliant starts, which see him gain places regularly, but also in overtaking on track.
He was able to take his second career podium at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, alongside Carlos Sainz Jr, and Pierre Gasly, who all stood there for a second time. He showcased along with the other two drivers the ability stabilise and stay on a podium which is so important. He then tried to follow up with the same result at the Tuscan Grand Prix, but a failure on his car, which lead to an awful crash in one of the highest speed corners meant he was not able to try and challenge anymore for the podium.
Stroll this season has proved himself a useful driver and shown that he can live up to his junior career. With Sebastian Vettel as his teammate next season, there was flack toward the young driver when this announcement came. Suggesting Perez deserved the seat more. Which over time, yes, but Stroll had continued to show that he should be in Formula 1.
If Stroll continues in the form he is this season, he may even be a tough cookie for Vettel to battle. Stroll is a driver who can utilise his tools when they are good and that is exactly what they are.
He is now getting past that pay driver stigma, but it will carry with him forever (because his dad owns the team) but he has shown he is more than just a pay driver.