Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe says that Lance Stroll probably jumped into Formula 1 earlier than was good for him.
The Canadian driver was just 18 when he made his first appearance for the team in the 2017 Australian Grand Prix. The previous year he had emerged victorious in the FIA European Formula 3 series as its youngest-ever champion to date.
But in hindsight, Lowe felt that making a jump all the way into Formula 1 had been too much for the then-teenager.
"My personal view is that in hindsight he came into Formula 1 too early," Lowe told RACER magazine.
"I think he would have been better to come a year later when he was better prepared," Lowe added. "It was a really, really tough year for him last year."
By comparison, Lowe had no such doubts about the timing of Sergey Sirotkin's entry into the sport, after the Russian joined the team at the start of 2018.
“In Sergey’s case, a rookie but a rookie who was ready for Formula 1," Lowe explained. "Very, very committed. Trained and worked incredibly hard and a really great team player. Always the team and what the team needed uppermost in his mind."
Stroll was heavily criticised for his early outings and found himself dubbed a 'pay driver'. However turned things around with his first points finish in his home race in Montreal, followed by a podium next time out in Baku.
He was the only driver from one of the non-Big Three teams to finish in the top three in 2017. He went on to finish in the points again five more times during the season and was 11th in the drivers championship in his rookie season.
His second year has been much more frustrating, thanks to the seriously underperforming FW41. His best result all year was eighth place on his return to Baku, but he ended 2018 in a lowly 18th place with just six championship points.
Despite how that looks, Lowe said that in his opinion Stroll had been a better driver in his sophomore season than he had the year before.
"We have seen him make a real step change over the winter," Lowe insisted. "He’s been much stronger this year, particularly in his qualifying which was a difficult part for him last year.
"But he’s completely transformed his approach to qualifying this year and that’s played out well for him. And then becoming more confident as a driver, therefore getting some better results from that."
The team's disappointing form in 2018 has unsurprisingly left Stroll seeking a new berth with a stronger team. Next season he will be at Racing Point Force India alongside Sergio Perez after Stroll's father, billionaire businessman Lawrence, led a consortium which saved the team from administration over the summer.
Meanwhile Williams will have an all-new driver line-up in 2019, with George Russell replacing Stroll and Robert Kubica confirmed as returning to F1 in place of Sirotkin.