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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.”

F1: Lewis Hamilton takes pole position at rain-soaked Styrian GP

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton showed he’s still the best driver in wet conditions, keeping his composure on a rain-drenched track to take pole position Saturday for the Styrian Grand Prix.

It was the Mercedes driver’s record-extending 89th career pole in F1 and particularly impressive as he first beat Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s mark and then his own leading mark on his final lap.

“That was awesome,” Hamilton said after placing 1.216 seconds ahead of Verstappen (who led practice Friday) and 1.398 clear of McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr.

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Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas qualified fourth after taking pole position and winning last Sunday’s Austrian GP.

It was another dismal day for Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel 10th and Charles Leclerc 11th.

Driving rain washed out the third and final practice session at midday and threatened qualifying altogether. But the cars managed to finally get out onto the Red Bull Ring at around 3:45 p.m. local time (1345 GMT) even though rain was still lashing down.

In the event of a complete washout, qualifying would have been moved to Sunday morning.

With drivers told the rain would soon get heavier, they were advised to post a solid time quickly in order to get into the second part of qualifying.

Verstappen said, “I can’t see a thing,” and Romain Grosjean slid off track into gravel.

Some unexpected names popped up at the top of the F1 leaderboard, before order was restored as Lewis Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen swapped leading times.

“Leave me to it,” Hamilton said over radio, trying to keep his concentration with water spraying everywhere in front and around him.

With two minutes left in Q1, Italian driver Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa Romeo, which swerved sideways and then backward into a crash barrier. His car had to be lifted off the track.

The rain fell so heavily throughout the morning that firefighters had to remove excess water from the roof of one empty hospitality building. The race is being held without fans because of the novel coronavirus (COVD-19) pandemic.

The race is changing names from last week but still is being held at the same track in Spielberg, which is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.