In our latest interview, we caught up with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll as he discusses his journey and life in F1 as well as the challenges of handling negativity on Social Media.
From humble beginnings as “a bit of an adrenaline junkie…” to a successful junior single-seater career before rising into F1 with Williams and now Racing Point, Stroll has quietly raised his game across the last four seasons, despite battling various criticism on Social Media.
Now, he speaks to Sport Grill about his journey and the challenges of dealing with negative Social Media critique as he looks ahead to the upcoming changes as Racing Point rebrands itself as Aston Martin next season and regulation changes kick in from 2022.
Who inspired you to become a racing driver?
Stroll: “No one really inspired me as such. No i got the racing bug from my dad. I was just very passionate about the sport from a young age. I’ve always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so racing suited my needs!”
You dominated throughout the early stages of your single-seater career with three titles across Italian F4, Toyota Racing Series then F3 Europe in 2016, whilst spending time as part of Ferrari then Williams’ youth programmes. From your perspective, how much did those three titles mean to you whilst under pressure to impress Ferrari then Williams?
Stroll: “For me, it’s just about the joy of racing. I love racing. I was fortunate enough to win those titles throughout my journey of racing, but ultimately, I just loved racing and I didn’t know where racing was going to take me. You know, Formula 1 was the goal but I had to do well.
“I am grateful that I had great people around me to help me and a good structure and that’s what gave me the opportunity to have that success in the first place during that junior career.”
2017 saw you graduate into F1 with Williams where results were quite disappointing in 17-18 seasons, despite gaining a podium in the 2017 Azerbaijan GP. As a driver, how tough did you find your first two seasons in F1?
Stroll: “It was character-building! But I just stuck to it and I got through those hard times. Now I’m sitting here with a great team with great people that are extremely motivated and committed to being better and bringing this team to the next level.”
Last season saw you make a switch to Racing Point and although the global pandemic halted the team’s charge this season, do you feel the gap in racing has been beneficial to you?
Stroll: “I think a lot of things have come together this year, our car is much quicker, and we are in a much stronger position as a team. I’m physically much fitter than I was last year, which I believe is a major advantage, especially with all these triple-headers and a lot of races condensed into a short period of time.
“The physical fitness has been a huge benefit to my mental and physical capacity in the car to absorb information while I’m in the race and to just fight harder for longer in some of the Grands Prix that are very physically demanding. I also think experience is a big part of it. Experience is something that you can’t rush, there are no shortcuts with experience. That has helped me a lot and that has made me a better driver; learning from my mistakes, building on my strengths, and just training harder.
Having experienced negativity on Social Media over recent seasons for various reasons, just how tough is it to try and use those negative comments as motivation?
Stroll: “Its the world we live in today. Everyone has a voice on social media. I think that’s great in many ways as it allows us to come together as a society and provide us with a platform. People can be quite harsh so it’s important to pick and choose who you want to listen to.
“I have a small group of friends, family, people around me that see the real picture and know what’s going on. I try to stay in my own little bubble, block out the outside noise and focus on my driving.”
Finally, what are your ambitions for the future and especially with a name rebrand to Aston Martin plus possible new teammate in Sebastian Vettel next season, ahead of the regulation changes kicking in from 2022?
Stroll: “I am really excited for the future. I see a big opportunity with Aston Martin to bring this team to an even higher level and I cannot wait. There’s a bright future ahead in my eyes, bring it on!”
Special thanks to Racing Point F1 for their assistance with this interview and we wish both Stroll and team the best of luck for not just the rest of this season but the future too.