Reigning Toyota Racing Series champion signs on for Williams F1 development programme
After winning the 2015 Toyota Racing Series (TRS) in New Zealand, 17-year-old Canadian driver Lance Stroll has been selected for a spot in Williams F1's Young Driver Development Programme — positioning him for a future driving roll with the historic team.
"I'm really honoured to be part of such a great team and one with so much history and success," said Stroll.
"I cannot wait to start working with Williams and very much hope we can achieve great things together in the coming years. It’s a very exciting and crucial time in my short motor racing career. Reaching F1 was always the ultimate goal, I suppose ever since driving a go-kart my father had bought me for my fifth birthday."
Stroll's appointment at Williams comes after a whirlwind 2015 season. After sealing the 2015 TRS crown for M2 Competition, he commenced what would be a character-building debut in the European F3 series. He was judged to have caused several notable accidents — resulting in him being disqualified and excluded at two events. Driving for the Prema Powerteam, he ended the season fifth overall — claiming a race win and four podiums over the second half of the season.
Stroll will now intend to follow a similar path to current team driver Valtteri Bottas, who joined the squad in an identical capacity in 2011. Stroll will spend time aboard Williams' racing simulators, will receive various work placements in "several departments around the factory", and will be trained in race engineering and marketing. This will run concurrently with a second stab at the European F3 championship.
"Williams has a long history of nurturing young drivers at the start of their F1 careers. David Coulthard, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hülkenberg and most recently Valtteri [Bottas]. This element was something that was important to me in making the decision to join Williams. [...] My future is now with Williams, which I’m very excited about."
Stroll will subsequently vacate his slot in Ferrari's own Academy, of which he's been a member since 2010.