‘Every driver comes with commercial considerations’

Date published: January 13 2017

Ahead of Lance Stroll’s debut season, Claire Williams has hit at the negative attitude towards pay drivers, saying most drivers, even Fernando Alonso, come with financial backing.

This season Stroll will make his Formula 1 debut after the European Formula 3 champion signed with Williams.

However, the 18-year-old’s debut is not without controversy.

Stroll’s motorsport career has been funded by his billionaire father Lawrence with Auto Motor und Sport reporting that the fashion mogul spent as much as $80 million to help his son secure the Williams drive.

Williams’ deputy team boss has defended her new signing.

“With every driver in Formula One there are commercial considerations for any TP [team principal],” she told ESPN.

“[Fernando] Alonso comes with financial backing – maybe not personal but he attracts sponsors, Santander is there because of him; Jenson [Button] exactly the same thing; Sergio Perez.

“I don’t understand why in this sport that is such big business, and where teams rely on having budgets in excess of a million sterling if they’re to succeed, why there is such a negative connotation around having a driver that brings backing.

“And not only in Formula One. Motorsport as a whole is such an expensive business – you don’t get into the upper echelons unless you can find significant budgets to go racing.”

She added: “I don’t know why people criticise drivers when they have financial backing, because if they didn’t many teams in this sport wouldn’t necessarily survive, and then the sport wouldn’t survive.

“The commercial model in Formula One has changed. It’s a much more expensive sport than it’s ever been, so sometimes those situations are going to arise.”