The has been a lot of discussion this year about whether Lance Stroll deserves his seat in the Williams team, especially as he is so well funded. He has now scored his first points in F1, so perhaps that will begin to appease the critics. Either way, the team seem willing to give him time to develop, and he isn’t under any immediate pressure. If we look at the drivers who have started a Grand Prix this year, and compare the results of the first seven races we can see that Stroll has performed better than half the drivers competing this year:
It isn’t really fair to include Giovinazzi in this list, as he has only competed in two races, so Stroll comes eleventh in a field of 21 remaining drivers (exactly halfway). What is surprising is that Alonso is at the very bottom with four non finishes and no points from the remaining three races. Thirteen of the drivers managed to score points in their first seven races (using the current points system 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1) with Hamilton way out in front. This is due to a couple of factors, he was well prepared having competed in six seasons of single seater racing before reaching F1 (three years of Formula Renault, two years of Formula 3 and a year of GP2) and a significant mileage in testing in a current F1 car before entering with a front running team capable of winning races and the drivers championship. In comparison, most of the other drivers in the field had much less testing:
Standing out near the bottom of this table is Alonso, with only two seasons of junior single seaters and much less F1 testing than Hamilton, it is no surprise that he wasn’t able to drag the Minardi into the points in his first seven races. Of the world champions in the list, Alonso is joined by Räikkönen and Button in only having two seasons of junior single seater racing once they had left karting before starting F1. Vettel on the other hand had five seasons, this may explain why Hamilton and Vettel were able to win their first titles much earlier in their F1 careers. Verstappen stands out as making the most rapid progress to F1, but I don’t think he can be used as an example of the normal career path for successful drivers.
Stroll though has had a relatively short junior career, making rapid progress to get to F1, and with limited teesting in current machinery, it isn’t really that surprising that he is struggling to match his vastly more experienced team mate. I think however that Palmer should be the driver most concerned for his position, as he has more experience than Stroll, a car which is nearly as competitive (Renault have 18 points to Williams’ 22) and has yet to finish in the points this season.
Stroll has made a slow start to his F1 career, but has made a better start than half the current field, so should be given the rest of the season to see how he improves before judgement is made. What do you think?