Mercedes protege Wickens secures popular first DTM win this weekend

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Formula One, is, for the moment, devoid of Canadian drivers. There hasn’t been one since Jacques Villeneuve’s departure midway through 2006. One who was on the doorstep a couple years ago with Marussia and probably deserves further consideration in the years to come is 24-year-old Robert Wickens, who took home his first DTM victory over the weekend.

“I’m overwhelmed with the kind words from all of you. Thank you for making this moment extra special! Thank you so much! Vielen Dank jeder!” Wickens tweeted Monday.

Wickens, a star in American open-wheel racing for a number of years, has since moved to Europe and has won the World Series by Renault championship in 2011. He shifted to DTM with Mercedes in 2012.

A column by Canadian reporter Jeff Pappone in the Toronto Globe and Mail described Wickens’ charge Sunday at the Nurburgring. Wickens needed to rely on guile and perform a number of spectacular passes on a track that shifted from full wet to full dry conditions.

Earlier in 2013, Wickens had been promoted to a win at the Norisring following Mattias Ekstrom’s exclusion. A later ruling from the German motorsport federation determined Ekstrom’s exclusion would stand, but everyone from second on back would be classified in their original positions. That left Wickens in an odd situation of having been classified as the first finisher, but not race winner.

Still, this one stuck, and serves notice of his potential and ability level as yet another single-seater driver having some success in tin-tops.

Below is an intro to Wickens via his sponsor Stihl, done at the start of the season.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.