Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff and American racing entrepreneur Chip Ganassi have both tipped FIA European Formula 3 Championship leader Lance Stroll to make it to Formula 1.
Co-author: David Malsher, US Editor
Wolff has long had his eye on up-and-coming driving talent, and previously helped manage Valtteri Bottas before his Mercedes role. He thinks Stroll’s super-rich father – Canadian fashion magnate Lawrence Stroll – has sometimes worked against Lance, reputation-wise.
“Lance has the benefit of having gone to classes with the help of his father,” says Wolff. “The downside is people don’t recognize how good he really is.
"When you speak to the boy who’s only 17-years old, you tend to believe you’re talking to a 35-year old. His maturity and his intelligence are going to take him far.
“I’m sure this kid will be the next Canadian in Formula 1, and it has nothing to do with his father’s wealth, because the boy can drive.
“He’s also working extremely hard. The intelligence and his maturity are really outstanding. I never saw that with a 17-year-old.
“For example, Max Verstappen acts more like a teenager. In the car, he’s extremely good, but when you interact with him, he’s a kid. But with Lance, his maturity is very surprising."
Ganassi: “I was skeptical, but he’s the real deal”
Stroll drove for Chip Ganassi’s team in the Rolex 24 at Daytona at the start of the season, making his sportscar debut in the headline Daytona Prototype class.
“He made quite an impression on us,” Ganassi told Motorsport.com last weekend. “He did a great job at the Daytona 24 Hours.
“Drivers like Lance and Felix [Rosenqvist] are two guys who have to be on the radar screen of any ambitious team – whether it’s Formula 1 or here in IndyCar – looking for the next young up-and-coming kid with great potential. You know that wherever they go, they’re going to be good and they’re going to be fast.”
But can he make it all the way to F1?
“Yeah, I would say so,” Ganassi replies. “Let’s face it, you and I, we’ve all seen rich kids come along and spend their family’s money to try and make it. And they screw up, sometimes because it’s come too easy, sometimes because they don’t have the right attitude.
“I’ve known his father for 25 years, but not knowing Lance I admit, I was a little skeptical, you know? What impressed me about Lance is he did have the right attitude, he learned well, listened well. And I’ll tell you this, that kid is the real deal.
“He’s proving it this year, isn’t he? How many wins has he had in Formula 3 this year now – seven? Really kicking ass in what I’m told is a super-competitive series.
“So yeah, he’s proven himself so far.”
Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble