Stroll dismisses pay driver claims

Date published: November 4 2016

Lance Stroll is already having defend his right to be in Formula 1, adamant that he has earned, not bought, his Williams race-seat.

Williams announced on Thursday that 18-year-old Stroll would partner Valtteri Bottas next season, replacing the soon-to-be-retired Felipe Massa.

The decision has raised eyebrows as the European Formula 3 title-holder has the backing of his billionaire father Lawrence Stroll.

Stroll, though, maintains that he has earned his place through results, not money.

“Everyone has their own opinion, and I can’t change that. I come from money, I am not going to deny that,” he said.

“But I believe I have my shot in F1 because I won every championship I competed in single-seaters.

“I won F4, I went to New Zealand and won the Toyota Racing Series, and I won the F3 European championship in 2016.

“Now the FIA has put in a superlicence for just that reason because people cannot just buy their way in to F1.

“You have to prove yourself and win in junior categories, and that is all I can really say about that.

“I don’t want to say exactly when I will be able to show that I am not just here for money, because it depends on so many other things, and so many details coming into place.

“But I am just going to worry about my business and I am here today very happy to be joining Williams and I am looking forward to next season.”

Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams backed her new signing, saying money did not factor in the decision.

“I know there has been a lot of commentary about Lance’s background and I would like to make it very clear to everybody that Williams has been a team over the past few years that has made it very clear and a statement of intent that we would not allow financial considerations to influence our driver choice,” she said.

“That is absolutely the case this year.

“Money doesn’t drive performance in the cockpit. You either have the talent or you don’t – and I think Lance has proved that he has got that talent and he has done what he has done to earn his race seat in F1. He has to do the job next year in F1 and he will do that.”