Williams announced on Thursday that Lance Stroll will partner Valtteri Bottas next season following the retirement of Felipe Massa. The Eighteen year old Canadian will be the first Canadian since the Jacques Villeneuve who drove for Jordan in 1997.
Stoll will be as it currently looks, to be the youngest driver on next years grid. However, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen retains his record as the youngest driver to start a grand prix.
Stroll has been testing the cars and old Williams this season and is the son of one of the teams investors Lawrence Stroll. Mr Stroll earlier this year brought out the remaining shares held by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
Stroll has had a good season in Formula Three winning fourteen races and it was thought that he has fought with Sauber’s Felipe Nasr to drive alongside Bottas. There have been reports that F1 CEO Berine Ecclestone has been pressuring teams to sign Nasr to keep a Brazilian on the grid.
It has been a good season for Stroll, winning the F3 championship with fourteen wins and his father’s backing of the team made it look very likely he would be retained.
Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams described it as “a new chapter in Williams’ history” as she presented Stroll and Bottas to the assembled media.
“We made this decision a long time ago and it’s one we are really, really excited about,” she said.
Ms Williams went on to give a glowing endorsement of her new driver, adding: “He is so capable, he’s extremely intelligent and he puts the work in. To achieve what he has achieved in such a short space of time, I have total confidence he will get in the car and deliver.”
Stroll told the media that he has done six days of testing for the team. The Canadian dismissed the label ‘pay driver’ because of his families wealth and insists he has earned his F1 chance.
Meet Lance Stroll.
Stroll was born in Montreal in October 1998 to the Billionaire businessman Lawrence and Claire Ann Stroll. This season he won the Formula Three championship with a 100 point lead with three races to go.
Stroll left Ferrari to replace Susie Wolff who retired from racing to join Channel 4 and recently announced she was expecting her first child with Toto.
Stroll added “To be racing in Formula One in 2017 is incredible, I can’t thank Williams enough for showing faith in my ability. Racing in F1 was something I dreamt about as a young kid. When I began karting seriously, F1 was then the ultimate goal and especially when I started racing cars in 2014.”
Bottas has been subject to speculation about his future as the Fin was out of contract at the end of the season. It was rumoured that he had been offered a deal with Renault.
Bottas says “Williams is like my family. Going into next season, it will be eight years in total since I joined at the start of 2010, so it really does feel like home here. However, I still believe we haven’t yet achieved what we should, and can do together.”