Jacques Villeneuve: Lance Stroll 'One of the Worst' Rookies in F1 History
Stroll, 18, has struggled immensely as the first Canadian F1 driver since Villeneuve.
Photo via PA Images
Canadian Formula 1 legend Jacques Villeneuve isn't letting national pride influence his opinion of rookie driver and fellow Quebec product Lance Stroll.
Villeneuve, who captured the F1 driver's title in 1997, was blunt when asked about the struggles the winless 18-year-old has encountered during his inaugural season.
"The results speak for themselves. It is one of the worst rookie performances in the history of Formula 1," Villeneuve recently told Autoweek.
Stroll was unable to collect a single point in any of the first six races of his career before managing to grab his first two points of the season thanks to a ninth-place finish at Montreal's Canadian Grand Prix this past weekend. Many critics point to his slow start to this season, along with a striking lap time difference between him and Williams teammate Felipe Massa, as an obvious indication of Stroll's inability to keep up with F1's best.
Stroll is no stranger to harsh criticisms, as there was an outside perception that he was only granted his Willams seat because of the millions of dollars in funding his father, Lawrence Stroll, has provided to the team. Villeneuve, who actually defended Stroll's spot on the grid prior to the season despite his father's involvement, pointed out the perils that several young drivers have faced over the years and expressed his concern that Stroll is going down an eerily comparable path.
"We haven't seen progress so far. From the first race to now, it's been similar," he said.
"We've seen so many drivers who are amazing until they're 16 or 17, and that's it. They don't go anywhere. The next step just doesn't happen. Some drivers just keep getting better, but you can't know that in advance. It's always risky to put someone super young, because you just don't know how good they can be."
Stroll, who managed his first top-10 finish in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec, despite finishing 17th in qualifying, defended himself and downplayed criticism when informed of Villeneuve's comments.
"I don't care what people think. I'm happy for me and the team. The rest is noise. People who do not like me will always find excuses," Stroll said to Le Journal after the race last Sunday, according to the CBC.
"I always had confidence, I also know there will be nothing easy about the next races. There's a lot of room for improvement and we're working hard for more good results."
Stroll currently sits No. 16 in the 2017 driver's standings, two points behind Pascal Wehrlein and Daniil Kvyat, and 18 back of teammate Massa.