Lance Stroll

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Lowe: Williams F1 ‘very disappointed’ with first half performance

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Williams Formula 1 technical chief Paddy Lowe says the team is “very disappointed” with its display through the first half of the 2017 season, sitting fifth in the constructors’ championship during the summer break.

Williams entered 2017 looking to bounce back after falling from third to fifth in the constructors’ standings last year, with Force India emerging as the top midfield team.

Force India has continued to hold that position so far in 2017, taking points with both its cars in all but two races to pick up 101 points.

Williams, by comparison, has struggled more with inconsistency and reliability, leaving it with just 41 points, with Toro Rosso just two behind in P6.

For technical chief Lowe, there can be no denying that Williams has underperformed, although he feels the performance of the FW40 car has been more deserving of its current points haul.

“Definitely at the half-term report stage we’re not looking as good as we’d like. We’re very disappointed, the car is quicker than that points table would reflect,” Lowe said.

“I think one of our biggest problems has been that we haven’t been scoring the points we should have done at the track with our speed of car. That’s for a number of different reasons.

“On top of that, we’ve seen a lot of variation from circuit to circuit. There are places that we significantly underperform and we really need to have a car that will perform more equally at different destinations, so that’s a big focus for next year.”

Kvyat nears race ban after penalty for blocking Stroll

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Daniil Kvyat is now just two penalty points away from a Formula 1 race ban after being sanctioned by the stewards for blocking Lance Stroll during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Kvyat arrived in Hungary with nine penalty points on his FIA super license for various incidents over the past 12 months, only to receive another one after qualifying.

The Toro Rosso driver was adjudged to have impeded Stroll during a hot lap in Q1, prompting the stewards to also hand him a three-place grid penalty.

Kvyat will therefore start 16th in Hungary on Sunday, lifting Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen one place each on the grid.

With 10 points on his super license, Kvyat is now just two away from a race ban, and will remain so until the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas this October.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been penalized with a three position grid penalty for tomorrow’s race, so I will now be starting from P16,” Kvyat said.

“There was a bit of a miscommunication, so I didn’t know that anyone was coming behind and we’ve now got a penalty for blocking another car…

“It’s a shame, because today had been quite a good day: our overall performance and my feeling with the car was okay, even if the balance changed a bit throughout the qualifying session. I just missed out on Q3 by a couple of tenths but we ended up more or less where we expected to be.

“My feeling with the car is quite good and now all I can hope for is a different type of race, an eventful one, otherwise it will be difficult to overtake here. We will obviously try and do our best, make our tyres last and see where we end up.”

The Hungarian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Williams happy to ‘hold off’ on 2018 F1 driver decision

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Williams is happy to “hold off” on making a decision on its Formula 1 driver line-up for 2018 as it focuses on improving its on-track displays after a tough start to the season.

Williams currently fields Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, a mix of experience and youth, but has failed to keep up with midfield front-runner Force India through the first half of the year.

Force India sits fourth in the constructors’ championship with more than double the points of Williams, who leads a tight-knit group down to Renault in eighth place, 15 points adrift.

While Stroll looks set to continue with Williams and Massa has hinted he may look to continue through to 2018 despite initially planning to retire at the end of last season, deputy team boss Claire Williams has confirmed that no decision about next year’s line-up will come any time soon.

“There’s a lot of talk already isn’t there, about drivers across the paddock. For us, we’ve decided we’re going to hold off a bit on our driver decision,” Williams said.

“We’ve got a fight on our hands on the race track at the moment and to be distracted by those kinds of conversations isn’t something that we want to be happening at the moment.

“[Force India’s] got a nice points haul on us at the moment we need to focus on, rather than anything else.”

Stroll: Baku F1 podium ‘proves I can be here’

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Lance Stroll is pleased to have answered his critics with his recent Formula 1 displays, believing his podium finish in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix proves he deserves his place on the grid.

Stroll, 18, stepped up to F1 from Formula 3 with Williams for 2017, aided by financial support from his billionaire father, Lawrence.

Stroll had a rough start to life in F1, failing to finish any of his first three races or score points until the seventh race of the year in Canada.

This kick-started a three-race run in the points for Stroll, the highlight being a charge to third place in Baku after rising through the order in a frenetic race.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Stroll said the timing of his points finish in Canada was of little consideration to him, having always had confidence in his own ability.

“If it comes earlier or later, you almost cannot influence it. But I knew that I was capable of doing results so I wasn’t panicking,” Stroll said.

“I knew that it was all a matter of time. But to really do it in Canada, that was great. A great day, the home race.

“It is much more about other things [than confidence]: me improving the way I drive or me working with the team. We have changed a lot on the car since Baku and that helped me a lot in my performance.”

The result saw Stroll become the second-youngest podium finisher in F1 history, only trailing Max Verstappen and sitting ahead of the likes of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.

“It proves that I can be here!” Stroll said. “I did it with a Williams, not a Mercedes!”

Spotlight firmly on Stroll after brilliant podium in Baku

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SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) The spotlight is on teenage driver Lance Stroll at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix following his brilliant podium finish two weeks ago.

The 18-year-old Canadian produced the drive of his young career to finish third at the Azerbaijan GP, answering his critics in style.

Having secured a podium in just the eighth race of his career, he now has a strong platform to build on.

“For sure he’s young, he has a lot to learn but he proved that he’s growing,” Williams teammate Felipe Massa said, with a “much better performance than (observers) were expecting.”

At 36, Massa is twice Stroll’s age and knows all about the pressures of F1. He was agonizingly close to winning the F1 title when driving for Ferrari – losing it to Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the 2008 season.

Now in his last year in F1, Massa is committed to helping Stroll.

“I met him when he was seven or eight years old, so I really have no problem to pass on everything I can to help him,” the Brazilian said. “He’s a lot more confident.”

Stroll was once part of the prestigious driver academy at Ferrari where he first met Massa.

Although Stroll won last year’s European Formula 3 championship by a large margin, being the son of billionaire investor Lawrence Stroll allowed critics the freedom to speculate his seat at Williams was more down to financial backing than his own talent.

Failure to finish four of the first six races of his debut season gave those critics even more ammunition.

Stroll responded with ninth at his home GP in Montreal and followed that up with his brilliant performance in Baku – narrowly missing out on second place to Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.

“Before, I just did not have the confidence to push the car, because the car was just not giving me what I needed,” Stroll said. “(The car) is also getting more from me.”

Massa’s experience, Stroll says, will prove vital over the course of the year.

“At the moment I am at a stage in my career where I do not always know what I need from the car and Felipe does,” Stroll said. “I need to start feeling what needs to be done with the car. Sometimes it might go in the wrong direction, but it is a learning process.”