Williams development driver Lance Stroll says “words can’t describe” how he feels after wrapping up the Formula 3 European title in dominant fashion at Imola last weekend.
The Canadian took his 10th and 11th victories of the season and added a second-place finish to seal the crown with one round to spare at Hockenheim. In total, Stroll has secured eleven wins, 17 podiums and twelve pole positions with Prema Powerteam over the course of the season and is now too far ahead in the points standings to be caught by his chief rivals Maximilian Günther and George Russell.
Stroll has been the class of the field this year in the highly-rated feeder series, which has helped the likes of Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon come to the fore in recent years. The Canadian teenager has been tipped to land Felipe Massa’s vacant seat at Williams, with Stroll recently ramping up preparations and securing valuable mileage in F1 machinery.
‘It’s incredible, the 17-year-old told the official F3 European championship website. “I am speechless. Words can’t describe how amazing this moment is. I had been waiting for it for a long time and it finally came.”
"Our pace from the opening race in April has been unbelievable, in both qualifying and the actual races. A combination of many things has allowed us to be ultra-consistent – a fact that wins titles. The Prema team, who I’ve raced with since 2014, has worked very hard for me while I’ve worked hard at the tracks, and away from them, to be at the level I am today.
“Imola is one of my favourite tracks. I topped the times in both Free Practice sessions on Friday and ultimately started all three races from pole. I scored good points in the opening race, leading until the second re-start after a Safety Car.
"In Sunday morning’s race, the pace was really good. Having built a lead each time I had to deal with three Safety Car re-starts. Over the last two laps I felt the title was arriving. In the third race again my pace was good and it was nice to have an uninterrupted race in terms of no Safety Cars and score an unchallenged victory."
Having amassed enough points in the junior categories to be eligible for an FIA Superlicence, Stroll now only needs to reach his 18th birthday, which takes place at the end of this month, to fulfil all the requirements to compete in Formula One. Previous Formula 3 champions who have gone on to feature in Grand Prix racing include Lewis Hamilton (2005), Paul di Resta (2006), Romain Grosjean (2007), Nico Hulkenberg (2008), Jules Bianchi (2009) and Esteban Ocon (2014).
"Congratulations to Lance," said Ulrich Fritz, the Head of Mercedes-AMG DTM, which supplies engines to the series. "To win the championship with a weekend to go before the end of the season is a great performance by him and his team.
"Formula 3 is one of the best series for following the development of young talents, of which there have been a number of good examples in recent years. I'm thinking especially here of our two Mercedes juniors Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon in Formula 1 and Felix Rosenqvist, who recently made such a strong start in the DTM. I trust too that Lance will make his way in motor racing."
— fiaf3europe (@fiaf3europe) 2 octobre 2016