Hey! Leave Lance Stroll’s dad out of it please

After announcing the signing of Lance Stroll, I started seeing—and out own Tom Firth pointed out to me—that there were a lot of salacious tweets and comments about his father’s wealth and Lance being a pay driver. I was seeing the same thing Tom was and after checking a follow up story on AUTOSPORT, I was even more convinced to write this editorial.

I have to be completely honest with you, I have not followed Lance’s career as I should have been doing because I am a bit preoccupied with survival at the moment so the junior series haven’t gotten the attention that they deserve and you, the reader/listeners, deserve from me. But perhaps in this case, that’s a good thing because I come at this issue completely unbiased as to who Lance is, what he’s achieved and how he’s gotten to Williams. I’m not Lance Stroll fan but I have nothing against him either as I know very little about him.

AUTOSPORT put the question to him about his wealth and pay-driver status and he wisely said:

“Everyone has their own opinion and I can’t change that,” said Stroll, when asked to comment on suggestions he earned his seat through funding.

“I come from money, I’m not going to deny that.

“But I believe I earned my shot in F1 because I won every championship that I’ve competed in in single-seaters.

“Now the FIA have put in the superlicence [criteria] for that reason, so people can’t buy their way into F1, and you have to prove yourself and win in junior categories.

“I don’t know what else to say about that.

“I don’t want to say when I’ll be able to show I’m not just here because of money because that just depends on some many things falling into place.

“I’m just going to worry about my business and I’m very happy to be here and am looking forward to next season.”

Max Verstappen’s father was a Formula 1 driver and of means too, will we not speak of the advantages he had in getting to F1? What about Nico Rosberg? His father being a champ and well connected. What of Jolyon Palmer, Pascal Werhlein, Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez, Niki Lauda, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and even Ayrton Senna? They all paid for rides early in their career and even in F1. Senna’s family was wealthy too. The Rosberg’s aren’t too bad off either.

What of merit? We could argue that for sure but in the end, Lance has done really well in the junior series. Performances that would gain the attention of any young driver program.

It may not happen to every single driver, in fact I know it doesn’t because I’ve read tommy Byrne’s book, but suffice it to say that if a young person comes up through the ranks and has natural born talent and starts winning everything the enter, there will most likely, not always, be a young driver program interested or support gained. Lewis Hamilton is a perfect example but even in Lewis’s case, it took hustle and hard work to get that support by his father Anthony. Schumacher, Hamilton, and Vettel didn’t come from massively welathy families.

I find it very unfair to start castigating Lance because his father has money. What base behavior and double standards. Again, I don’t even know Lance but looking at his junior career, the young man has done very well and looks to be very talented.

In the past, it was the age (18-years-old) that people were screaming about as Max Verstappen entered the series but you don’t hear much about that these days and in the case of Lance, not a peep, just mean things about his father’s wealth. What a shame.

Perhaps Claire Williams said it far better than I could and with much more decorum:

“I know there have been a lot of comments about Lance’s background and I want to make it clear Williams has been a team that has made a statement of intent we would not allow financial considerations to influence our driver choice,” she said.

“That has been the case this year.

“Money doesn’t drive performance – you either have the talent or you don’t.

“Lance has proved he has talent and has what done what he has done.

“He has to do the job next year, and he will do that, to dispel those rumours.”


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Peter Riva

Good editorial NC. Spot on.


Have been following him since last year he was in F3 and was quick but got involved in a lot of incidents, was even dropped fro the Ferrari driver program, this year he dominated like a pro albeit with less experienced competition. Hope he does well as it is nice to have a canuck on the grid.

Negative Camber

Well I certainly wouldn’t argue that he’s hitting the grid with the talent Max has or anyone else because admittedly I haven’t followed his career but I also think he’s getting a raw deal a bit in social media. Pastor is one thing and who knows, Maybe Lance does really well or he smashes a lot of noses, time will tell. :)


Know this is a bit late to the party – but it was my understanding that it was Stroll that left the Ferrari program in to become linked with Williams in late 2015 (before his F3 2016 campaign). I think the Stroll camp figured that, if all went well and according to plan, there would be an F1 seat for Lance a lot earlier with Williams than with Ferrari (or Ferrari supplied) team.


All F1 drivers are pay drivers to a certain extent. There are different levels of pay drivers. I think the media has been very nasty to Lance. Here’s a young man about to realize a dream he has worked hard for and instead of celebration and congratulations, he gets the Richie Rich abuse. There is not denying that his families wealth has bankrolled his success, but that can only take you so far. From Karting to F3, you can really compensate for lack of talent with money ie development, machinery, testing etc. Once you get to the big leagues where… Read more »

Negative Camber

I think that was also the concern last year when teams spoke of Max and the FIA did the points ladder system to prevent that. We could consider whether that will prevent the scenario you mentioned though as I have not scoured that points system to determine if there is a loophole for getting from F4 to F1 through cash support without touching GP2 etc. My hunch would be there technically is with F4 and other lower series but I could be talking out of my A$$. :)

Tom Firth

Max would not get an FIA super license under the current system. He wouldn’t of been 18 and you’ve got to have 40 points within a three year period. He had 20 from his year in FIA European F3. Another year in FIA European F3 and Max would of had super license eligibility for 2016, and could still of skipped GP2, just as Lance did. Lance also had points from his year in FIA Italian F4, and his championship in FIA F3 European, so he had more than enough to avoid GP2. Anyway why would you go to GP2 if… Read more »


The argument that he earned his super licence is a valid one. Certainly his first place in F3 should be a straighter path to F1 than Verstappens third place. But one cant deny that the family money bought him an easier path however in some ways that the nature of getting into F1 these days is having a backer of sorts, whether it be a Red Bull driver program or similar. (you give Marko your soul instead of your cash) So using your own money just makes you an independent rather than being affiliated with a particular party. What I… Read more »

Tom Firth

They backed Lynn in Gp2, and unfortunately as much as I like Alex, He’s not lived up to expectation this season, so they’ve looked further down the ladder. Yes he brings cash, of course it helps the team and its a factor but its hardly exclusive to Lance, like the world is treating it on social media. He’s the perfect driver in many ways, in that he brings money and talent. Lauda did the same thing many many many years ago and he became one of the most storied drivers in F1 history. Not saying Lance will but the fact… Read more »