Canadian GP: Lance Stroll Finally breaks the top 10
A FRIDAY THAT LOOKED PROMISING; A SATURDAY TO FORGET; A RACE DAY THAT MAKES UP FOR ALL
Montreal being a home Grand Prix for both, the team and himself, Stroll no doubt wanted to do well in front of the home crowd.
After ending FP1 in 17th, Lance ended FP2 in a very promising 10th place. This had been one of the best Fridays so far since the start of the season.
“Promising start to the weekend here in Montreal – certainly better than Fridays at recent races,” Lance had said at the time. “The car feels alive at the moment, which is a good base on which to start building, as both the performance and the high fuel runs seemed promising. No doubt there are still some things we can do to improve, but we are definitely in the fight. We just have to keep working on things tonight, improving the details to find some more lap time. The field is very tight, with only a couple of tenths between fifth and tenth, so it’s going to be really close tomorrow.”
But then, disaster strikes in the opening minutes of FP3 Saturday morning when a presumed hydraulic leak turned into an engine failure. Having had to skip FP3 as the mechanics were proceeding to change the engine, Stroll would face a difficult qualifying session. To top it all, Stroll’s initially engine was the latest spec configuration and the only one available to him. He then had to revert to the older specification engine which had less performance. He ended up not being able to get pass Q1 and placed in 18th place.
But, still, Lance had a positive outlook towards the race. “It’s wasn’t an easy day with the engine change having a big impact on the final result. I missed out on doing any laps in final practice and we had to go back to the old spec engine, which is several tenths down on performance. The guys and girls in the garage did a great job to fit the new power unit in time for qualifying, but I just felt on the back foot going into the session. Without these problems, I’m sure I could have gone further in qualifying. I still feel positive about tomorrow: it’s my home race and I’m going to give it my best shot. I remember in 2017 I came back from a difficult qualifying to score my first F1 points in Montreal. I need to pull something similar out of my pocket tomorrow.”
Being out of the top ten, it gives the opportunity to drovers to choose the type of compound to start the race with. The sun’s heat on Sunday was to play a big role in the tire choices as well. Lance elected to start on the harder compound to stay on track as long as possible before pitting in the late stage of the race to put the mediums on.
As with pretty much every race, Lance did not disappoint at the start gaining three places on the first lap. And this, gaining positions on the start, he has done quite consistently since is arrival in F1. He managed to get in to a good pace on the hard tires and made his way up to eight place at one point. And there had been just a couple of retirements up to that point.
Following his pit stop, he started chasing after Carlos Sainz who occupied ninth place at the time. While everyone focused on the battle between Vettel and Hamilton and subsequently the penalty given to Vettel, Stroll was closing the gap lap after lap to Sainz. And he finally passed him for ninth place.
So hat’s off for Lance’s performance at the Canadian Grand Prix. He kept his confidence up and head down through it all and it was surely nice to reap the rewards. “The car performed so well today and it feels great to score points in Montreal. The lead up to the race wasn’t easy – losing the power unit yesterday and taking a performance hit by going back to the old engine – but we kept pushing, went out there and grabbed a couple of points”, mentioned Lance. “My start was strong, which moved me up a few positions and the key to our strategy was all about going long on the first stint with the hard tyre. By the time we switched to the medium, we were in good shape and I was able to chase down [Carlos] Sainz and make the move for ninth place. It was a really fun race: I put all my emotions on the table today and loved every minute of it. The team really deserved this: they’ve put in some long hours this week and it’s a boost for us all. It has been an awesome week with great support from the crowd. I’m going to remember this one for a while.”
Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal summed up the race. “It’s fantastic to see Lance score points at his home race. After such a tough Saturday, he delivered a really strong performance today to fight through the field from P17 to ninth. He kept his head down and made the strategy work with some decisive overtakes too. Checo’s strategy – with the medium tyre for the first stint – didn’t play out as well, but we felt it was worth splitting the strategies between the cars. These two points are important after a tough couple of races and show all the hard work is beginning to pay off in terms of performance and results.”