Having stood on the podium in his debut campaign, Lance Stroll says that “has to just be the start” as he looks to kick on.
In 2017, his first season in the sport, the Canadian became the youngest rookie to step foot on the podium as he finished P3 in Azerbaijan at 18 years and 239 days.
He also made history as the youngest Formula One driver in history to start on the front row of a race when he lined up P2 on the Italian GP grid.
“In my first year I achieved goals that I had actually set out to achieve over the next few years,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Express & Star.
“To get on the podium, I never imagined that would happen. It was a very proud moment.
“But it has to just be the start. I know I can improve as a driver and be more competitive in all areas.
“Over the course of the year I’ve changed dramatically as a driver, I’ve learned a tremendous amount.
“I’m going to come back for the new season and be much stronger, both mentally and physically.”
Lance Stroll 🇨🇦joins this list of youngest drivers in F1 history to reach the podium pic.twitter.com/mSI4anUHQR
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 25, 2017
Despite his achievements, Stroll has to deal with the ever-present ‘pay driver’ tag.
It has led to cricitism of the driver, however, he insists he doesn’t let it bother him.
“I stay in my little bubble – that is what I try and do,” Stroll continued.
“There is always noise out there and distractions, but you just have to block all that noise out.
“People will say things. The crucial thing for me is that I stick to my job.
“That is what I did in Azerbaijan. I blocked everything else out and I now do that in my life.
“In Baku I knew there were three very competitive drivers with quicker cars than me all chasing me down for that podium spot.
“I knew they were going to be on me right until the last lap and until I had crossed that finish line.
“I just had to take it corner by corner. I had to make sure I was right at the top of my game and I knew I couldn’t make any mistakes.
“I had to get the car home on the podium. It wasn’t easy, there were still 30 laps to go and I was in second position.
“It was a very challenging race and a very emotional race. But I did it. And it’s proven a valuable learning curve for me.”