Jacques Villeneuve, 2017

Villeneuve vs Stroll: Is the champion’s criticism tough but fair?

2017 F1 season

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“He is super quick, very talented and the few times I met him at the race track last year I was very impressed with his attitude.”

Jacques Villeneuve was more positive about Lance Stroll’s potential before the season began. But Villeneuve tends to shoot from the hip, and when asked about Stroll’s performance since then Villeneuve’s replies have been characteristically trenchant.

Is Villeneuve’s criticism personal or professional? His claims are strongly-worded, but do the facts back them up? Let’s take a look.

“One of the worst rookie performances”

Lance Stroll, Williams, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2017
Stroll took points at the track named after Villeneuve’s father
After a rough start to his F1 career, Stroll took a popular breakthrough points finish on home ground. Soon afterwards Villeneuve fired his first salvo:

The results speak for themselves. It is one of the worst rookie performances in the history of Formula One.

There’s obviously many ways this can be calculated. But in times of raw pace, qualifying performances are telling. And at this stage in the season Stroll’s weren’t good.

Over the first seven races he averaged nine-tenths of a second slower than Massa in like-for-like sessions. That translated to an average qualifying position of 15.1 to Massa’s 8.2.

Was that the worst rookie performance of all time? It wasn’t even the worst of this season. Jolyon Palmer was 1.1 seconds off Nico Hulkenberg’s pace over the same races.

However if we ignore Australia, where Palmer had a technical problem, that figure falls to 0.85s. And unlike Stroll, Palmer has not kept his seat.

By other measures Stroll’s start to life in F1 hadn’t been that bad. Granted he’d posted three retirements and stopped before the flag in Monaco. But two of these four stoppages were due to technical failures and only one was because of a collision he caused, in China.

And in the two races where he and Massa were running at the end Stroll was 11 seconds behind (Spain), and 18 (Russia), indicating his race pace was considerably better than his qualifying performance. Calling this the worst any rookie has ever done is a stretch.

“Everybody broke down”

Lance Stroll, Williams, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2017
Having fallen to last, Stroll finish ninth
Villeneuve put Stroll’s Canada result down to good fortune:

He wasn’t quick in Montreal, but everybody broke down, he kept his nose clean, he got points, and that took a weight off his shoulders.

At his home race Stroll went out in Q1, where he was seven-tenths of a second slower than his team mate, who reached Q3. Following his pit stop he was quick enough to pass the Saubers, Palmer, Romain Grosjean and Fernando Alonso. Undoubtedly having a Mercedes power unit helped against the likes of Honda and a year-old Ferrari on a track with long straights, but even so it’s not correct to insinuate he didn’t do any overtaking.

He was helped by some retirements, notably the first-lap crash which wiped out his team mate and Carlos Sainz Jnr, plus the stoppages of Max Verstappen and Daniil Kvyat.

While Stroll wouldn’t have reached the points without at least three of these four retirements, it’s not as if this was an unusually high number of drop-outs from a race. Villeneuve gave Stroll too little credit here.

“He’s the only driver who tests”

Stroll testing at Sepang

Following Stroll’s podium finish in Azerbaijan, Villeneuve said his family wealth was giving him an unfair advantage.

He did well, but also he’s the only driver who tests between races. That’s a little bit tough to swallow. Money has to have a limit, and that’s pushing it.

Williams have been secretive about the programme they have undertaken with Stroll to give him extra track time at Formula One venues around the world in a 2014-specification car. This is the kind of preparation which is only really available to drivers with billionaire fathers.

There’s no doubt that for a driver with as little F1 experience as Stroll, the opportunity to do more running in an F1 car is helpful. In the days before testing was restricted it was commonplace for new drivers to rack up tens of thousands of test kilometres before making their debuts. That was true for Lewis Hamilton ten years ago and it was true for Villeneuve another 11 years before that.

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Of course not all venues can be tested at and Baku, the street circuit where Stroll took his best-yet result of third, is one he couldn’t visit.

Villeneuve may have a point but the fact Stroll is able to buy an advantage not available to others is surely F1’s fault, not his.

“He was about to get lapped by his team mate”

Lance Stroll, Williams, Interlagos, 2017
Stroll was so far behind Massa he was ahead of him
Villeneuve was scathing about Stroll’s most recent drive.

It wasn’t impressive. He was about to get lapped by his team mate. Then he blew a tyre so at least he has an excuse.

By lap 66 at Interlagos both Williams drivers had pitted once – Stroll enjoying the fastest complete stop of the race – and were running to the end. Stroll had gone one lap longer than Massa before switching to soft tyres.

The pair were separated by 1’06.8 seconds. Massa was lapping around the 1’14.4 range, about 1.1 seconds faster than Stroll. On paper he was 7.6s off lapping Stroll and poised to gain 5.5s over the remaining five laps. However when we factor in how early blue flags are shown and how eager Williams would have been to ensure their non-points-scoring car didn’t impeded the points-scoring car and it’s not hard to imagine how Stroll might have ended up getting lapped by his team mate.

To put that into perspective, the next-largest gap between any pair of team mates was the 15 seconds separating the Red Bull drivers, one of which had gone off on the first lap.

In mitigation, Stroll can point to the fact he was running a previous-specification version of his power unit and couldn’t use its high-power modes to assist in overtaking. Nonetheless Villeneuve had a point here.

“You can’t just look at the points”

With one race left Stroll has amassed 40 points and could end the season in front of Massa, who’s on 42. Has his season really been that bad? Villeneuve has an answer for that:

You can’t just look at the points, you have to look at the pace. We haven’t really seen an improvement.

Here’s the lap time difference in qualifying between Stroll and Massa at each race* this year.

*Massa did not qualify at the Hungaroring

There isn’t a great indication of progress here. If we consider Australia an outlier then we probably have to do the same for Italy, though nonetheless Stroll deserves credit for his excellent performance very wet conditions.

Felipe Massa, Lance Stroll, Williams, Sepang International Circuit, 2017
How close have the Williams drivers been?
He has tended to perform better at tracks he knows well. Monza from his Italian F4 and Formula Three days, Red Bull Ring likewise from F3 and Sepang from one of those tests. But in the last four races alone he’s usually been a second off, even around the short Interlagos track, though noting again he had that engine problem.

So in terms of qualifying pace Villeneuve again is not far wrong. But again his race performances are a different matter.

Before he arrived in F1 Stroll had a reputation for being crash-prone, particularly after two serious accidents. He has shrugged that off, completed more racing laps than Massa so far and reaching the top ten seven times. Since Russia he’s been classified in every race bar Suzuka, where a front-end failure put him out.

As Villeneuve indicates, Stroll’s points situation compared to Massa is flattered by Baku. On what was set to be the biggest pay-day of the season so far for Williams it was Massa who suffered a technical failure. That potentially cost him a win, very likely a podium finish ahead of Stroll. As it was Massa lost 15 points to his team mate, who he is now two points ahead of.

“Slower team mate” needed

Villeneuve’s recommendation for how Stroll could improve was perhaps predictable:

Have a slower team mate.

In terms of Stroll’s one-lap pace it’s not hard to see why Villeneuve says this. The only other driver on the grid who was as far behind his team mate as Stroll is was dropped three races ago.

Villeneuve has always been one of the most outspoken characters in Formula One, which is partly why his criticism of Stroll has such headline-friendly bite. But he seems quick to criticise and slow to praise the first Canadian to race in F1 since he did.

Over to you

Have Villeneuve’s criticisms of Stroll been ‘tough but fair’? Does the rookie deserve a second season at Williams or will he only get one because of the financial backing he brings?

And how well would Villeneuve’s post-championship career career stand up to this sort of scrutiny? Have your say in the comments.

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Keith Collantine
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  • 122 comments on “Villeneuve vs Stroll: Is the champion’s criticism tough but fair?”

    1. I don’t think Villeneuve is tough at all in his criticism. There’s a lot of properly tough criticism on Stroll, if we care to look for it.
      I agree with him though. I think he is fair. But not tough.

      1. I think it’s fair but sarcastic and that’s why quite a few people dislike it. He also has some BS talk record which makes him half credible. The praise and then the flaming of Stroll is one example. It was clear from the start that Stroll was very unprepared. Saying a thing then its exact contrary doesn’t him much good.

        1. I think it’s stupid and naive and I lose more respect for Jacques every time he opens his mouth.

          His criticism in Montreal is stupid. Yes, others broke down, but Stroll kept it going and brought it home. No one takes anything from Ricciardo for his win in Baku because of other people’s issues, or Verstappen’s win in Spain. Every driver has wins or podiums that came as a result of someone else’s misfortune. Its not a knock on the driver.

          And his criticism that he tests is even more stupid. He’s effectively criticizing Stroll for working hard. Isnt that what we want? A rookie who puts in the extra hours and tests, and works with his team and other drivers to get better. How is that a bad thing? Yes, his dad paid for it, but so what? He used whatever means he had at his disposal to get better. He didnt cheat, all of his tests were legal, and its not too different from Rosberg practicing his racecraft in a kart last year. The important thing is that he’s willing to put in the time to learn and get better. That’s the right kind of attitude for a rookie.

          And finally, the criticism that he’s only a driver because his dad is rich is so hypocritical. Karting and F1 are insanely expensive sports. If JV wasnt a Villeneuve and just a middle class Quebecoise, he wouldnt have been able to afford to go karting, and its questionable if he ever wouldve made it to F1, let alone a winning car. None of the drivers on the current grid are remotely middle class, let alone poor. Just because Stroll has more money than them isnt a criticism, its the pot calling the kettle black. His results so far cant be bought, he earned them on merit, and proves he deserves at least a shot in F1.

          I personally like Stroll. He’s not arrogant and seems to be quite humble. He makes mistakes and accepts blame for them. He works hard. He’s a Canadian Mark Webber, with money.

          1. Umar: Humble people don’t pay their mechanics to support them crowd surfing when they score one or two points..

            That was REALLY awkward and face palm worthy, and obvious as well… hope someone made an extra house payment off that farce…

          2. “And his criticism that he tests is even more stupid. He’s effectively criticizing Stroll for working hard. Isnt that what we want? A rookie who puts in the extra hours and tests, and works with his team and other drivers to get better. How is that a bad thing? Yes, his dad paid for it, but so what? He used whatever means he had at his disposal to get better. He didnt cheat, all of his tests were legal, and its not too different from Rosberg practicing his racecraft in a kart last year.”

            Paying hundreds of millions to practice driving modern f1 cars with active f1 team on f1 circuits is no different from rosberg practising in a kart? AHAHAAA! Wow! The amount of money stroll is putting into f1 is insane and despite it his results are poor. He has a team mate that is way past his peak and stroll still manages to be slower. Despite all the training he does in f1. The lack of speed is an indication of his lack of skill. Despite having so many huge benefits bought by his daddy for his play-a-racing-driver-career he can’t even match massa.

            It is like a height jump competition. Stroll brings a ladder his daddy bought him but still loses to his team mate who only brought his driving shoes. Stroll is nothing more than a product of money. His whole career he has enjoyed massive equipment adventage which has merely elevated him from average to above average. Without his daddy’s money he would not have won f3 or f4. And he definitely would not be in f1.

            Whether he works hard is a moot point. Almost everybody work hard. And almost everybody works harder because other people don’t have football stadium sized motorhomes in formula 4, private jets, personal engineering teams and private f1 tests just for them to drive around.

            I’m not a stroll hater but his racing career is bought. Not earned.

            1. You are right on the money. Alonso consistently outpaced Massa by what…half a second? That puts Stroll 1.5 secs behind Alonso, who is my personal all time favourite driver. Compare that to Vandoorne who is proving to be very respectable, he’s only 0.2 or 0.3 secs behind Alonso. And Vandoorne is pretty much a rookie too. I can see why McLaren are keeping him.

          3. Umar; … I owe you a favor, since you said what I was going to say, and you said it better. Thanks!

            I’ll only add that I don’t like seeing ex-drivers like Villeneuve trashing the performance of current drivers, unless the criticism involves unsafe driving. It’s petty and it hurts the sport.

          4. Full Moto Jacket
            17th November 2017, 23:22

            “None of the drivers on the current grid are remotely middle class, let alone poor.”

            BS. Do some research. Kimi’s father worked on a road construction crew. Hamilton’s father worked in IT. Vettel’s father a physiotherapist. Alonso’s father a millwright. Bottas’ father owns a cleaning company. Vandoorne’s father an architect. Hell, the best ever ( Schumacher’s) father a bricklayer. Hardly what you’d call wealthy. Shall I go on?

            It’s telling that Stroll’s father (the owner of the largest Ferrari dealer in Canada) got his kid into the Ferrari development program and they cut him loose. You can’t pay off Ferrari. Putting a state of the art simulator in the Williams complex in 2016 (which Massa and Bottas couldn’t use till ’17, as it was calibrated for F3 for Lance) goes a long way, though.

            1. I wouldn’t call those jobs middle class jobs though either. They pay far above middle class wages.

          5. Umar, I think you have your perception of “class distinctions” a bit upside down. I would consider 99% of the guys racing in F1 today would be “middle-class”. In America, money forms the class structure but in Europe, it’s family, where you went to school, lifestyle, where you live etc.. It’s all a load of BS really but try as we might, people just can’t lose their sense of “Class”. For example, I would consider myself “Working Class” because I identify with the worker’s struggle, but my family throw fits if I say that so I’m stuck with a middle class moniker.

    2. I think his criticisms have been tough but fair except perhaps for the ‘one of the worst rookie performances in F1’ comment. However, another thing JV said was that it was the Stroll’s themselves, Lance and his Dad, who said the results will speak for themselves, so JV was only playing off what they themselves pointed at to look at.

      Does LS deserve another season? Of course he does and he’s under contract for two more I believe. JV isn’t suggesting otherwise.

      And as to the last ‘Over to you’ question how well would JV’s post-Championship career stand up to this sort of scrutiny? Well, let’s see Stroll win a Championship in his second season in F1 first of all. Then let’s see him risk his career forming a brand new team in F1, in order to make that comparison fair. Shouldn’t the comparison be rookie season to rookie season?

      I think Stroll has had a huge learning curve in a car that is obviously not stellar. We need the next two seasons to see if more improvement comes, but to be mindful that drivers are coloured by their cars too. There may only be so much he can do.

      1. Is the car truly “obviously not stellar”? It’s not too far from the Force India and yet Ocon has made a stunning impression in his first full year. I think it’s unfair to apportion much blame to the Williams car for Stroll’s poor performance. Sure, it’s been Williams worst season for a few years, but not many would disagree that on average it is at least the fifth best on the grid this year.

        He’s young and had a big step up, so I’m perfectly willing to give him another season before I judge too harshly, but I agree with Villeneuve in that it has been a very poor first year. Stroll’s reputation has suffered from his money in more ways than one; he certainly should’ve had another season in the lower categories. I’ll repeat David Coulthard’s words again from a few years back: “Formula One is not a finishing school.”

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          17th November 2017, 17:31

          @ben-n You don’t go for a stroll in Formula One

        2. From the few standout drives we saw, I suspect that the car isn’t even that bad. But the drivers are not getting the best out of it most of the time @ben-n.

    3. In Russia the gap is smaller because Massa had a puncture and stopped for an extra pitstop. Before his puncture on lap 40 Stroll was 31 seconds behind Massa.

      In Spain Massa had a bad first lap and ended up 56 seconds behind Stroll on lap 2 due to an extra pitstop. As the article says Massa was 11 seconds ahead of Stroll by the end. Very bad example to support an argument that his pace was decent if you ask me. Average it out for number of laps the numbers are not pretty.

      1. Massa has been faster than Stroll in almost every session this year, which is maybe not surprising given the difference in experience. The fact that Massa and Stroll are so close in the championship is very much down to luck it seems.

        1. Massa had punctures in Russia and Mexico. He got taken out in Canada. He retired from a winning position in Baku. Seeing how close Stroll was to Ricciardo at the finish it’s fair to assume Massa would have won it. In Canada, Baku and Mexico Stroll got more points as a result. There was Singapore where Massa was left out on a bizarre strategy and Malaysia where the team swapped them around though Massa was faster. In that race Massa got hit on the first lap. Massa was dominating Stroll more than Alonso dominated Massa. That’s saying a lot. Some how Massa is the one who’s being retired again..

          I have not seen any improvement in Stroll this season. He had the odd good day when he was still slower than Massa. That’s not at all promising. Any other driver bringing less cash would be out of a job after a performance like this. Palmer lost his seat because of that. 5 races into the season Mclaren were questioning Vandoorne despite his lack of mileage at that stage in the season. I really hope Stroll improves. It’s hard to see Williams perform poorly. In the hands of stronger drivers they would be fighting with Force India this season. If Kubica is not at least as good as Massa they are in for a shocker next season

    4. can I be honest? I’ve always loved Villeneuve quotes…

      yeah, he exaggerates a bit for rhetoric, but I feel he’s never usually too far from the truth and also tends to speak his mind much more often than other drivers (both former and current). when he says Stroll was the ‘WORST. ROOKIE. EVER.’, I read that just like a teenager saying: ‘YOU’RE THE WORST, DAAAD’… that being said, Stroll rookie season was bad; not career-ending bad, but bad nevertheless.

      also, I have a feeling he doesn’t love Stroll Sr. that much…

    5. Criticism is tough and true. I would not say fair exactly.

      I’m not going to defend his performances but money has clouded people’s judgement. Priveledge is an easy method to rub people the wrong way.
      Stroll’s reputation as ”kid of rich dad” didn’t do him any favors. Pay drivers get criticism a lot earlier than others. Vandoorne’s Spain blind turn in was an incredibly stupid incident from a GP2 champ and yet the response wasn’t exactly hostile compared to the minor errors Stroll was making.

      It would be a bigger problem for him next season if his gap between Kubica or Di Resta is the same as it is to Massa.
      Except for Di Resta’s Hungary weekend, they have zero experience with the hybrid tech in which Stroll has thousands of miles in.

    6. whilst daddies money keeps rolling in he will have a seat

      Maldnardo anyone?

      Williams cant survive without it

      hopefully paddy can get them back up the grid and williams wont need the money

      1. How could you not use ‘strolling in’ in that sentence!

        1. l feel sorry for Lance who is caught between a rock and a hard place and out of his depth…after being put on a huge pedestal…His dad also tried to buy Lance’s sister a pop star career….how much longer can Williams last in this sport with these business models.

    7. I stand by what I said a few times before the start of the season and once or twice after… he got shoved into F1 too soon, wasn’t in any way ready for it and might spend the rest of his career paying for that.

      It wasn’t even a ‘maybe’ question… there was absolutely no indication in his junior career that Stroll was one of the ‘special talents’ capable of cutting it in F1 at the age of 18. Winning the F3 title in your second season, in a team your dad basically bought for you, is commendable and impressive… but it’s isn’t a monumental, ‘Go straight to F1, pass F2, collect £200’ achievement.

      Whether it was him pushing for it, or his dad wanting it to happen this year, it was the wrong move and he needed at least one season of ‘F1-style’ racing in F2 before moving up to this level. His growth as a driver has been screwed and now he just needs to hope that his talent (which he does have) catches up with his body at some point in the near future.

      Sadly for him, being pushed too soon might have messed up his development so much that he’ll never achieve what he might have had he (or his dad) been sensible and waited until he was ready.

      1. Your first sentence paragraph is accurate up to the point where he will spend the rest of his career paying for it. Ironically, his father will be paying for it. But Stroll will be in F1 for as long as he wants.

        1. That comment got me thinking… lots of rich kids get a pile of cash when they turn 21 or 25 or whatever, so I suppose there’s a reasonable chance Stroll will too.

          So maybe when he has more money of his own, he’ll have to pay for his own seat if he still wants it.

          1. The Stroll family will eventually just buy Williams and then Lance can become the next Bernie! 😂

      2. Absolutely agree with every word.

    8. In the says before testing was restricted it was commonplace for new drivers to rack up tens of thousands of test kilometres before making their debuts. That was true for Lewis Hamilton ten years ago

      I wish spreading this myth about Lewis getting millions of kilometres of experience before making his debut appearance in Australia would stop. That’s blatantly not true. From what I could find, LH had less than 10k kilometres of mileage (so where these stories about tens of thousands are coming from?), less than someone like Kubica, not to mention Kovalainen, who I believe had well over 30 thousand kms of experience at the start of his career. Hell, even Hulkenberg, who made his debut in very limited testing era, had more testing mileage, so why Hamilton is mentioned in this context time and time again?

      1. Well it isn’t only LH that is mentioned. JV is mentioned too. I think the point is that in the past all drivers had way more testing mileage ahead of their debuts whereas LS has been getting extra mileage compared to others due to family resources. Not that I care very much, for it has been in 2014 cars so has more to do with just familiarizing himself with tracks he’s never been on. Would be entirely different if money was somehow buying him testing with his actual car, that others in the grid did not have access to. But that is simply not allowed for good reason.

      2. It always amazes me when the com0letely innacurate quote comes up – I mean it’s not as though he had nothing to do that year other than win his first season in F2 (now) but there we are.

        Nor is it even realistic – today’s rookie has tens of thousands of miles on supremely competent and realistic simulators. Hell h3 can even race in a full rig in his front room!

        Bu5 you know, that must be why he beat the two time champion – the one actually racing day in and out in the actual series…

      3. Armchair, you haven’t looked very hard. Hamilton was one of the final drivers to benefit from unlimited preseason testing, and numerous publications at the time documented the official tests. Rookies after were limited, and I have not a clue why you think Hulk had more testing than Lewis. This era also had many clandestine tests, that received no official coverage. Lewis benefited immensely from all the testing, but he always had the innate talent, & would have figured it all out soon enough anyway. One interesting take from it though, is the pace differential between Alonso & Hamilton on the Michelin tires, prior to switching to Bridgestones. A limited amount of data to go from, but Alonso was much quicker on the tires he helped develop.

    9. Williams have to get a great car, courtesy Paddy Lowe and the money will come by itself. That would mean one more Stroll year and we can see some good drivers, like Kubica, Kvyat, take your pick, doing well in the Williams.

    10. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      17th November 2017, 13:15

      How much “extra testing” has Lance done over the year? Depending on the extent of the program, I’m not sure we can call him a rookie.

      I’m not one to knock a wealthy person down but in this case, Lance has bought himself a 2nd season at Williams. Every other rookie has shown improvement – even Palmer started getting better towards the end and he’s gone. Vandoorne has shown improvement.

      Is it ok for any driver to be qualifying 1 second slower than a driver who’s considered by the team too slow to remain in F1? This is the main issue here along with the fact that the only reason they are keeping Lance is for the money.

      No one would want to see the son of Real Madrid’s owner play alongside Ronaldo and staying 20 meters behind him because the family wants him to play there. Sure, the kid may have been great in the youth divisions…

      Nico Hulkenberg got a pole in 2010 and ended up a test driver in 2011. Shouldn’t Lance be a test driver next year or going back to the lower categories like other drivers before coming back to F1?

      A lot of people are paying good money to watch F1 and the Strolls are deciding the line up for one of the midfield teams – if you’re paying $500 to watch, shouldn’t the Strolls be covering $50-$100 of the F1 fees for the viewers (Canadians excluded)? Understandably, we don’t love their son as much as the Stroll family does.

    11. Stroll is a very odd case really. There have been times this year when he’s seemed on Massa’s level, only to fall back to his favourite “one second slower” act at the next race.

      Clearly he’s not been “the worst rookie in history”, but it’s not been a good season by any stretch of the imagination. While acknowledging his achievements, Massa was never a first rate driver in his prime, so to often be a second behind an aging version of that is pretty embarrassing. His podium in Baku was well deserved as one of the few drivers to keep a clean nose all weekend, but that’s been his only highlight.

      Unfortunately though, in the current climate, pay drivers are sometimes a necessary evil for teams like Williams and in hindsight, they’ve made the right choice. Say we’d seen a Massa-Di Resta line up this year instead. It’s fair to say that the team may have had more points, but certainly not enough to challenge Force India for 4th. Any way you butter the bread, it was 5th place for Williams this year. I’m sure they’re pleased it’s a distant 5th plus cash rather than a close 5th with no cash.

      1. At 20th lap Massa was 3th and Stroll 7th. And people still say that his podium wasn’t lucky…

        1. It was lucky in the sense that it relied on the misfortune and errors of others, but Stroll’s car held together and he didn’t make any mistakes. What more is he supposed to do? I think Stroll himself would probably agree that if Massa had a reliable car that he would’ve beaten him to the podium (and maybe a win), but I can’t criticise him for having a clean drive when so many others (Vettel, Hulkenberg, Ocon, Perez to name a few) were their own worst enemies.

          That’s in the context of Baku alone… I can certainly criticise him for most of his other performances this year!

      2. Are you sure that having two better drivers wouldn’t have made the Williams a contender for fourth?

        1. I would hazard a guess that by putting some combination of Hamilton/Vettel/Alonso/Verstappen/Ricciardo in the two cars then Williams perhaps would have been, but two “Massa level” drivers (with no disrespect meant) would have always been 5th at best. Force India are near enough 100 points ahead.

          1. Yes, agree, massa was good this season and lost like 50 points on reliability, but he wasn’t, and never was, alonso level, who is similar to hamilton and vettel, and although still unproven when fighting for championships, verstappen and ricciardo can be around the same level too, verstappen is something like schumacher to me and ricciardo like hakkinen.

    12. I’d say Massa was always going to be quicker on his home track, where he won 2 of his 11 victories and generally drives well. And it is more or less true for all the old tracks; even if Stroll has tested there Massa has way more experience on those tracks.
      That difference in experience remains the same throughout the season.
      Lance may get to know the car better, but not every other track.

      Baku was only the second time round. Nowhere else was the difference in track experience as small between the two.
      Stroll was as quick as Massa on it; not just during qualifying but all weekend.

      Like it or not, he will drive next year, we may as well just watch what happens.
      If we see an improvement it was indeed his newness to these tracks that hampered him.
      I’ll reserve my judgment about Stroll until well in that second season.

      1. Like I said above about Baku’s race, at 20th lap Massa was 3th and Stroll 7th. And people still say that his podium wasn’t lucky and he had the same pace as Massa…

        1. At the 20th lap there was less than 1.3 seconds in between the two… one lap earlier the gap was less than a second.
          At no point was it more than 4 seconds.
          So BS, and if you said it before that just means serial BS.

          1. By the way, around that time the race was red-flagged. Massa was in 3rd position and Stroll in 4th. Magnussen was 7th and that order remained like that until Massa hit trouble around lap 23.

    13. “Slower team mate” needed

      So he got better on venue he had raced before.
      But what if Stroll had a good season next year? He could be branded as ‘the one who beat a cripple driver’ or maybe ‘the one who beat RedBull reject’ …

      1. @ruliemaulana Let’s be honest there is a very small chance that Stroll can beat Robert Kubica or Daniil Kvyat over a full season. Even Paul Di Resta can significantly outperform him.

        1. Maybe. But I think he could handle Di Resta..

      2. I can’t see Williams ditching Felipe Massa (think we can be sure that he was pushed before he jumped) without knowing that they have a better alternative available.

        I’d be very surprised to see Stroll beat whoever his team-mate is next year without a vast, vast improvement.

        1. Kubica is bringing a lot of money. It’s a safe bet not because he can perform good, it’s because even if he ends up slower than Massa they still had the money. And if by a miracle he is faster, they will have both points and money. That’s all. But for sure they’re counting that Stroll can be better next season.

          1. I understand that Kubica would bring more exposure perhaps, but I hadn’t appreciated that he would be “bringing a lot of money” with him. Could you provide a source for that? I wasn’t aware they’d even confirmed his signing…

            1. @ben-n EUR 8 million in sponsorship associated with Kubica, and collected in part by co-manager Nico Rosberg [link]

            2. 8 mil EU not really big money in F1

        2. It’s actually IMO a risky choice by williams to ditch massa who was still doing well.

          My opinion is di resta can barely beat stroll, kvyat unless he recovers mentally can’t even beat stroll, kubica like first stint can beat massa and not by far, if he got even a little worse massa would still be slightly faster than him, so performance wise giving up massa has more chance to worsen the driver situation, however kubica really deserves a year to prove himself after all the effort to get back.

    14. It’s a bit of both. His criticism is very biting and, as shown above, is a bit OTT at times, but we can’t get away from the fact that Stroll probably isn’t quite up to F1 standards yet.

      The simple fact is this: Massa got bossed in qualifying by Bottas in 2016, Massa is bossing Stroll in qualifying in 2017 and Bottas is off the pace of Hamilton in qualifying. So if you are off the pace of a man who was off the pace of a man who is off the pace, you definitely have to improve!

      1. you have to pump that pace up, that is rookies’ pace

      2. Bottas is one of the best qualifiers on the grid, he’s just losing for the 2nd best qualifier of all time. If you look at Massa/Bottas race pace they have the same level. And we can say that Massa is a bit faster this season just by the way he drove in Baku and Brazil. All this said, a gap of more than 0.5s shows a very long road of improvement for him, and even with all his money I don’t think Williams will wait years for him.

        1. Bottas is one of the best qualifiers on the grid,

          compared to his ex-teammates that is. Not really one of the best by those standards..

    15. He got there too early. Of course the money was needed and that is