Canada’s Lance Stroll is relishing his first home grand prix appearance this weekend as he looks to pick up his maiden top-10 finish in Formula 1.
Stroll, 18, made his F1 debut at the start of the year with Williams after stepping up from F3 at the end of last season.
The native of Montreal is yet to score any points through the opening six races of the year, recording a best finish of 11th at the Russian Grand Prix.
Stroll will become the first Canadian F1 driver to race on home soil since Jacques Villeneuve appeared at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2006, and is relishing the chance to delight a home crowd.
“Montreal is going to be amazing for me, as this is not only my home race but it is also held in my home city, which is buzzing while the race is on,” Stroll said.
“I grew up about 20 minutes away from the race track, so this will be something special and not many people will get to experience that feeling.
“As a kid I attended the race pretty much every year, then missed a few years while living in Europe, but was back there last year.
“For me it is a pure racing event. It is not the flashiest grand prix, as the paddock is small, but it is cool, unique and old school. The fans are really close to the track, the grandstands are huge and the run off areas are not massive, but I love that and hope it doesn’t change.”
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.