Lance Stroll has said he has the credentials to prove he belongs in Formula 1 and that critics are just “jealous” of him.
The Canadian’s career has been funded along the way by his billionaire father and the news that he would be Valtteri Bottas’ replacement at Williams was met with some disapproval.
Stroll did little to silence the critics when crashing the FW40 three times in two days during the first Winter Test, but he believes he has done more than enough to earn his place on the grid.
“Obviously people who are not in Formula 1 are trying to find excuses why they are not in Formula 1,” Stroll told Autosport.
“I think that the drivers in the [F1] paddock have respect of each other.
“They all know that winning Formula 4, Formula Renault, Formula 3 takes a lot of effort and work to do that.
“So for sure the drivers in Formula 1 have respect for each other, we know what it takes to arrive here and that obviously the drivers, who are not here, most of the time will find a way to find a reason not to be here.
“So it’s normal. I don’t think I need to spell it for you, but thats the way it is.
“Because you always going to find jealous people and people that don’t like you for the wrong reasons and that’s the way it is.”
After crashing during practice at the Australian Grand Prix, a gearbox change saw the rookie fall to the very back of the grid.
He then was running as high as 13th place before a brake issue forced Stroll to retire on debut with 18 laps remaining.
But, while his Formula 1 career has begun on a low note, he believes he is respected by fellow drivers as they have all had to go down similar career paths.
“I think everyone here on the grid as drivers, and even the people who work in the teams they really know racing, they know what it takes to arrive in Formula 1,” he added.
“They know the championships you need to win are challenging and to score the points for the superlicense, you need to be able to win them.
“And for drivers like [Sebastian] Vettel and [Lewis] Hamilton and [Esteban] Ocon – all of them had to win those championships.
“That’s very challenging and they know that and that’s why we share respect for each other even if we are racing all together, we have respect for each other.”