Stroll dismisses Massa’s influence

Williams hotshoe Lance Stroll says he received little guidance from former teammate Felipe Massa during his debut Formula 1 season in 2017.

Massa was the most experienced driver on the F1 grid when he raced in his final season and was again a valuable addition to the Williams team, scoring 43 points to Stroll’s 40 in what was an evenly contested battle between the teammates.

The most accurate measure of a driver’s performance is always against his teammate. So the Canadian’s season was all the more impressive against the F1 veteran given that Massa was focused entirely on his own job.

“I don’t think I had any guidance from him last year, whatsoever,” Stroll told Autosport. “He was a team-mate like any other. He was busy trying to drive as fast as he could, and I was trying to drive as fast as I could. That was it. There was nothing more to it than that.

“I don’t know why people seem to think there was a coach or a mentor thing going on. There wasn’t; it was just him doing his job and me doing mine, and whoever did it better finished ahead. Whether my team-mate is someone with 15 years’ experience or someone of one year’s experience, my approach doesn’t change.”

Replacing Felipe Massa as Stroll’s teammate for 2018 is the highly-rated Russian Sergey Sirotkin, which means they will have the youngest driver line-up on the grid. But there is another veteran racer also in the team this year, Pole Robert Kubica making a return as reserve and development driver seven years after he last raced in F1 for Renault.

Having suffered a partial amputation of his forearm in a horrific rally crash in 2011, Kubica has made a remarkable return to the sport and Stroll now believes he can again be a huge asset to F1 and Williams.

“Robert can be a big help for sure,” added Stroll. “Felipe was a good help in that way of helping the team develop with the new regulations, and Robert can definitely help us.

“He seemed to have a good understanding of what the problems were with the car [in Abu Dhabi testing], we got some feedback from the Renault he drove in Hungary. I can think we can use him and integrate in the team to help us get further up the grid.”

Guennadi Moukine

Motorsport Technology Editor.