Stroll happy to bide his time before stepping up to F1

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Williams test driver Lance Stroll is happy to bide his time before making a step up to Formula 1 in the future despite Max Verstappen’s rapid ascension in recent years.

Stroll, 17, balances his commitments with Williams with a drive in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, where he enjoys a sizeable championship lead.

Verstappen spent his first full season in single-seaters in FIA F3 back in 2014, finishing third in the championship before joining Toro Rosso in F1.

Despite following in the footsteps of Verstappen, Stroll is happy to spend more time in junior championships before making the step up to F1 in the future.

“We saw that Verstappen did it at a very young age,” Stroll told Canadian newspaper The Star.

“It shows that young drivers are capable. I don’t want to use him as an example. He could be an exception.

“He’s obviously very good. But when the time is right, when I’m ready, when we complete all the steps, then we’ll make a decision.

“For now, I’m in F3 and that’s what I’m focused on. I think Williams wants me to concentrate 100 per cent on F3. F1 will come when it’s the right time.

“I need to take each step as it comes. Maybe next year, when I’m old enough, I can do a practice [session].”

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff was full of praise for Stroll, and believes he will be the next Canadian to race in F1.

“He has won two European Formula 3 races this season in an extremely dominant way,” Wolff said.

“When you speak to the boy, 17 years old, you think you have a 35-year-old in front of you.

“The downside is that people don’t know how good he really is.

“I think for sure this is the next Canadian kid in Formula One and it has nothing to do with his father’s wealth. It is because the boy can drive.”

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.