The term silver spoon has been closely associated with Lance Stroll since entering Formula One, not least having switched to the team under his father’s control, but the Canadian deserves the opportunity to prove his credentials in decent machinery.
Following two years of diminishing returns at Williams, Stroll has joined the outfit formerly known as Force India, which has – in the strictest sense, finished in the top five in the constructors’ standings for the previous four seasons, in doing so, earning plenty of admirers for punching above its weight in trying circumstances.
Under its new guise as Racing Point, finally unshackled from its flamboyant former owner, Vijay Mallya’s ongoing legal troubles, and enjoying the fresh capital injection from Stroll senior – Lawrence’s consortium, there’s no reason why the squad can’t re-establish itself as the best of the rest.
The 20-year old will be under immediate pressure to vindicate the nepotism which came at the highly esteemed Esteban Ocon’s expense – the future Mercedes prospect finding himself off the grid, in an environment in which he can be appraised on merit and where his results are reflective of his true potential.
His notable petulance when things didn’t run according to plan, which was a frequent occurrence in his time at Grove, can partly be attributed to his youthfulness and understandable frustration, though if he has a package to work with this season, it will be his results that’ll do the talking.
Stroll’s third place at Azerbaijan in his rookie season in 2017 – becoming the youngest driver to visit the podium in the process, can’t be understated despite the attrition rate which has become synonymous with the event’s short history. Nor his front row start at Italy after qualifying was affected by inclement conditions, evidence that he can capitalise when a chance comes his way.
With due respect to his erstwhile team-mates, Felipe Massa was in his ultimately final season, with Brazilian was a distant shadow of his late 2000’s peak. Meanwhile, Sergey Sirotkin was in his first and for now, only season, the Russian never standing a chance having to learn the ropes in the fundamentally flawed FW41.
In Sergio Perez, who enters his sixth season with the Silverstone-based operation, the Canadian must learn quickly to get his elbows out if he’s to thrive, the fiercely uncompromising Mexican having come to blows with Ocon on multiple occasions across their two seasons together.
One would hope there isn’t a directive to prioritise Stroll purely on account of his father’s considerable influence, and it’d be in his interest to be allowed to race from scratch if he’s to ever shake the tag that he’s only in a job due to his fortune of being the offspring of parental wealth.
A little remembered fact, that Stroll was a long-time member of the Ferrari Driver Academy prior to linking with Williams, speaks to the regard in which he was held as a junior, yet it was his decision to leave the program which led to his Formula One berth within twelve months.
With over 40 Grand Prix starts under his belt, he has the experience to take the next step now he’s equipped with the machinery to match, but there’s only so much favour he can count on if the results aren’t forthcoming. A telling postscript if this came to pass would be whether his father hangs around or proves that his investment was merely to create a playground for his child.
It was unfortunate that his Williams tenure coincided with its decline and for that reason it’s only fair that judgement is reserved until further notice. Equally, there’s no more hiding behind the car’s shortcomings if he doesn’t stack up, in which case, no amount of his father’s influence will suffice.