Stroll will partner Mexican veteran Sergio Perez for the 2019 season at Racing Point after the bankrupt Force India team was purchased by a consortium, led by Lance’s father Lawrence Stroll in August 2018.
There was much debate after Ocon failed to land a spot on the 2019 grid, with Mercedes announcing there was no suitable place to send their development driver ahead of a potential move to the Silver Arrows for 2020.
In the ‘Beyond the Grid’ F1 podcast, Szafnauer heaped praise on Stroll after running the 20-year-old in the Abu Dhabi tyre test, stating Stroll was up to Ocon’s pace very quickly.
“Lance absolutely loved his time in the car, said the car can do the things he wants a car to do which is good, we were duly impressed with Lance,” said Szafnauer.
“We were already impressed with him when he ran in the simulator. He was on the pace very quickly, up to Esteban’s [Ocon] level in the simulator.
“We were just hoping the pace that he showed in the simulator would translate onto the race track and it did. He was very quick on track too.
“So we’ve got some good potential there in Lance, we’ll work with him to hopefully teach him some things we know about how to drive the tyre, how to preserve it and how to make it go quick and last over the stints and we’ll do that with him, help him qualify better too.
“But he brings some great skills, he’s quick, he usually does a great job at the start and over the first lap, he usually makes up places, so we look forward to working with him.”