After Formula One instituted an 18-year minimum age limit (thanks, Verstappen), newly-signed, currently-17-year-old Williams Formula One driver Lance Stroll can only be the second youngest driver in Formula One. Eh, that’s still pretty impressive.
Stroll won this year’s Formula 3 European Championship and will be taking the place of retiring driver Felipe Massa, per a Williams team announcement made today. Stroll turns 18 on Saturday, making him the youngest driver signed since the original “Verstappen Rule” mandated a minimum age for F1. He is also the first Canadian in Formula One since Jacques Villeneuve in 2006.
Stroll has been racing since he was eight years old, and has also won the 2014 Italian Formula 4 Championship as well as the 2015 Toyota Racing Series title in New Zealand. Additionally, he has been testing in a 2014 Williams FW36 since August to get ready to make the move into F1.
While some are accusing Stroll of being a pay driver because his father Lawrence Stroll is a billionaire businessman who owns Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Stroll refutes these claims. The BBC writes:
The son of Canadian billionaire businessman Lawrence Stroll, he says he deserves his spot in F1 with his achievements in other competitions.
He says he is aware that he “comes from wealth” but claims the rules in F1 now mean a driver has to “earn” a seat and they cannot simply buy their way in.
Regardless of the fact that getting to F1 requires that you have boatloads of money from somewhere, it will be cool to see one of our neighbors to the north competing in Formula One next year.
Williams also confirmed that Valterri Bottas will be staying with the team for the 2017 season.