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Stroll gets first Q3 berth in China, felt he could have gone quicker

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Formula 1 rookie Lance Stroll may have reached the final stage of qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday, but the Canadian felt he could have gone even quicker on his lap that was good enough for P10 on the grid.

Stroll, 18, made his debut for Williams in Australia, and endured a tough weekend that saw him crash out in practice and start last before retiring due to a brake issue.

Stroll appeared more at ease behind the wheel of the Williams FW40 during qualifying in China, finishing fifth in Q1 before making it all the way to the final stage, ultimately finishing 10th. Stroll’s fastest lap of qualifying actually came in Q1, going over two-tenths slower in Q3.

“The first run in Q1 wasn’t good. I was just getting into it and didn’t deliver the lap I knew I could deliver. On the second set of tires, I just kind of calmed down and it was an amazing lap; I was really happy with the car,” Stroll said.

“Then moving on to Q2, we had a good session. To get into Q3 the time was a tenth slower than my Q1 lap, but I knew it was good enough. Since I had used two sets in Q1, I only had one for Q3, so I just went for it.

“It wasn’t a good lap, but my goal was to get into Q3. Tomorrow there is a long race ahead of us, so even though Q3 wasn’t as good as I think it could have been I am still very happy with the overall qualifying.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 1am ET on Sunday.

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.