EURO F3 CHAMPIONSHIP

LANCE STROLL IS THE FIRST NORTH-AMERICAN ON THE EUROPEAN F3 THRONE

So far, the laurels of the FIA Formula 3 European Champion often remained in Europe, with only few drivers from a different continent being able to win. Thanks to Canadian Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam), North-America is now on the winners’ list as well as he wrapped up an early 2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship title at Imola. The 17-year-old development driver of the Williams Formula 1 team was the dominant driver this season and already scored his third title in car racing.

Lance Stroll’s debut in automobile racing was promising: in his maiden season, he already won the title in the Italian Formula 4 championship. After a successful foray to New Zealand, where he won the Toyota Racing Series early in 2015, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship was the logical next step. There, however, the Montreal-born youngster initially was having a hard time, but he came back stronger after a difficult spell, in which he caught the attention with a spectacular accident, and became a regular contender for podium finishes in the second half of the 2015 season. Stroll scored his maiden race win in the hard-fought FIA Formula 3 European Championship while still in his debut season. “Psychologically, it was important to go into the winter break like this,” he reflects on his first year in Formula 3. “This victory really boosted my confidence and somehow it also paved the way for the successful season that followed.”

With this steep learning curve and his success in 2015, Lance was one of the pre-season favourites for 2016. With his victory in the opening race of the season, he also showed that he lived up to this role. Then, however, the teenager had to wait for ten races to add his second win of the year, but from that point on, he went on to score another eight race wins, making his mark on the season in an impressive way. “Being able to call myself the new FIA Formula 3 European Champion is a fantastic feeling, I can’t find any words to describe it,” he beamed after his early title win at Imola.

Lance Stroll, who describes his character as calm, composed and competitive, is the son of a well-to-do father who is earning his money in the clothing business. Lawrence Stroll is accompanying his son to every race and is supporting him wherever he can. “For me, this support is very important, especially as he only ever wants the best for me and is doing everything to get it,” Lance says about his father. “However, he isn’t giving me any advice about how to drive or how to set up my race car. Fortunately, he knows exactly where his place at the race track is,” Lance says with a smile.

The fact that there are always people who explain his success with the contents of his father’s wallet doesn’t affect the Geneva-based youngster in any way. “I am not wasting my time on that,” Stroll says. “According to me, I have made it clear at the track often enough that I am quick. However, I reckon that these people are not going to change their mind anyway, no matter how many races and titles I will still win during my career.”

A successful racing driver Lance Stroll may be, but racing isn’t the only thing on his mind. “Currently, I am finishing my high school education,” he tells. “Admittedly, school isn’t my favourite thing, but I understand that a proper education is important. Like that, I have something to rely on even in case it doesn’t work out with motorsport as I want it to. And on top of that, had it not been for proper results at school, my parents wouldn’t have allowed me to spend time in motorsport anyway.”

In his time off, the Canadian, who currently is single, likes to be involved in sports, to meet up with friends and to travel. “In Europe, that is considerably easier than for instance in my home country, Canada, because everything is much closer together here.” He has been living in Europe since the age of twelve, but he is still feeling as a Canadian. “That is where I was born and where I grew up and I am proud to represent my country.” Stroll, who is now living in Geneva and is considering Michael Schumacher and American basketball star LeBron James as his heroes, is visiting his old country two or three times a year. “I try to fly to Canada for a few weeks in the summer and over Christmas. Sometimes, I manage to get there for Easter, too.”

He doesn’t yet know where he will be racing next season. “I can’t say yet. In any case, my goal is Formula 1 and that is what I am working on.” He mentioned that he has spent two and a half days of testing with a 2014-spec Williams Formula 1 car, and he was impressed. “This car is great, but I have also noticed that the FIA Formula 3 European Championship is a very good way to prepare for Formula 1. I feel that I am ready for this challenge.”