TrackWorthy - W56I2539 - Lance Stroll

Exclusive Interview with Canadian Formula 1 Driver Lance Stroll

by Michael Taylor (@trackworthy),

TrackWorthy - W56I2539 - Lance Stroll
“I learn every time I step into a race car. I pick up little things here and there and that’s what makes me a better driver every day.”Lance Stroll, Canadian Formula 1 Driver for Williams Martini Racing
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Ninteen year-old Lance Stroll, from Montreal, Quebec, is about to embark on his second season at the pinnacle of motorsports, Formula 1. His new teammate at Williams Martini Racing for the 2018 season will be twenty-two year-old Russian driver, Sergey Sirotkin. In his debut F1 season, Stroll broke two records by becoming the youngest rookie podium finisher with a third-place finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and the youngest front-row starter with a second-place start in the Italian Grand Prix.

 

As is the case with most Formula 1 drivers, Stroll began his racing career at the age of ten driving go-karts in his native Quebec where he was nominated for rookie of the year by the Federation de Sport Automobile du Quebec. Stroll moved up the racing ranks and was the Formula 4 Italy series champion in 2014, the Toyota Racing Series New Zealand series champion in 2015 and the Formula 3 European Series champion in 2016.

We caught up with Stroll at the ‘World Center of Racing’, the Daytona International Speedway, prior to the start of the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Stroll made his Rolex 24 debut in 2016, at the tender age of seventeen, with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, and finished fifth overall.


TrackWorthy: How are you doing? You’re looking tanned and relaxed.

Stroll: I’m great. I took a few days off, was at the beach last weekend, now I’m here and I’m looking forward to 2018. It’s great to kick it off in style with the Rolex 24.
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TrackWorthy: The first time you were here, getting out on the high bank, at night, how hard was that to adapt to?

Stroll: It’s different, something new, so I had to adapt and get used to it. Now it’s starting to become easier and easier every time I step into the car. Having the experience of being here once before really helps. I was here two years ago with Chip Ganassi in 2016 and soaked up a lot of knowledge through the race last time I was here. Now going into this year will be much easier since I’ve done it once before. I’m looking forward to it. We have a lot of competition this year.
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TrackWorthy: How has the car performed during practice and qualifying?

Stroll: It has been good. We’ve come a long way since the first day and now the race is just about staying out of trouble, executing pit stops, trying to get through the traffic as quick as possible. But I believe we have a good package under us to be able to do that.
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TrackWorthy: As a kid growing up, was your ultimate dream to be racing in Formula 1? Did you also dream of competing in something like the 24 Hours of Daytona?

Stroll: To be honest, I didn’t know where I was going to be when I was a kid. I love racing but I didn’t really love Formula 1. I mean I watched Formula 1 and it was my dream but I loved all kinds of racing. I watched Daytona and I watched IndyCar. I just wanted to be a racing driver but I never targeted Formula 1 like that was the only thing I had in the back of my mind. I got there, but to be honest I was just taking it year by year and step by step and I never knew if it was something that I was going to carry on doing, until I got to the professional level. We’ve come a long way. I’m just into racing, and I love driving and that’s why I’m here. It’s cool to change it up. There’s always something you can learn. There’s fun in changing cars and series. It’s what I love to do. It’s kind of like my escape. Sitting at home is not too exciting if you ask me.
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TrackWorthy: Does racing a car, whether it’s a prototype like this or a Formula 1 car, keep your racing skills honed?

Stroll: Yes, but it’s about finding the right balance. There are times to step out of a racing car and get away from racing. I strongly believe that that is important. If you constantly drive and you’re in the car, it’s easy to get caught up with that, so I think there’s times to relax and do other things. I don’t believe it’s only about racing, but, definitely it’s good to have seat time and to stay in a race car… I learn every time I step into a race car. I pick up little things here and there and that’s what makes me a better driver every day.
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TrackWorthy: What would it be like getting out of your Daytona Prototype car and getting into your Formula 1 car?

Stroll: It’s two different animals. You can’t really compare the two. Formula 1 is a much faster car. Different tires, different concept, it’s a formula car and this is a prototype. There are a lot of differences, but like any car you have to drive it on the limit and that requires you to understand the car and be on top of the car. That doesn’t change whether you’re in a go-kart or whether you’re in a Formula 1 car.
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TrackWorthy: You’ve driven your Formula 1 car and know it well enough that you are on top of your car?

Stroll: Not necessarily. I saw last season that there is a lot of room for improvement in certain areas, and that’s just with time and experience. I think a rookie season in any category is always harder than the second season. Last year the tracks were new, the car was new, and I saw everything for the first time. But it’s just like this race, coming back for the second time, once you’ve seen it before, it just makes it a lot more familiar and a lot easier. Formula 1 is the same, all the new tracks that I went to, the new regulations, faster cars, it was a handful and a lot to absorb. But, nevertheless, every day I work on myself and I try to improve on my weaknesses. But time and experience in a car is always the best thing, so I’m really looking forward now to 2018, stepping into the car for a second season and proving to myself of what I’m capable of doing.
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TrackWorthy: When you get into the prototype car are you running it at ten-tenths? Do you feel you are at the limit?

Stroll: Yes, I do. I did a pretty good lap today. It’s a car that has a lot of differences than Formula 1 but I feel pretty on top of the car.

TrackWorthy - Rolex 24_race_#37_turn 4-X4 - Lance Stroll

TrackWorthy: When you were a little kid did you have a dream car?

Stroll: I just like cars in general. I never really had a dream car. I had a magazine or book and Michael Schumacher was on the cover. I remember that sitting in my room for a long time. He was my idol growing up. If there was any car I dreamed of it would be Michael and his red Ferrari that was sitting on my bedside table. That was sitting there for years, from when I was four years old until I was like ten or eleven years old. He was the guy I looked up to.
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TrackWorthy: What was your first car?

Stroll: I don’t actually own a car. I drive a Mercedes at the moment, but I’m moving around too much and really don’t have time to own a car.

Post Script:

Stroll and his co-drivers Felix Rosenqvist (Sweden), Daniel Juncadella (Spain), and Robin Frijns (Netherlands) drove their Jackie Chan DCR JOTA ORECA LMP2 to a fifteenth place finish overall and placed 11th in their class. They completed 777 laps. The winning Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi prototype completed a record 808 laps.


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