Stroll open to F1, IndyCar, GP2 moves for 2017

© Thomas Suer

Rising Canadian racing star Lance Stroll is open to moves into Formula 1, IndyCar and GP2 for 2017, but is focusing on winning the FIA European Formula 3 title before deciding on a next step.

Stroll, 17, currently leads the FIA European F3 standings by 61 points with nine races remaining, taking seven wins with Prema Powerteam during his sophomore single-seater season.

Stroll previously enjoyed ties with Ferrari and is currently on the books of Williams, leading to speculation about a possible move into F1 next year due to his incredible F3 form.

However, Stroll’s first goal is to win the F3 title and not get distracted by speculation of a move up into an F1 seat.

“Prema, the last eight months I’ve been with them, it’s been fantastic,” Stroll said.

“I think their co-operation with me in F3 is great. Their understanding of me just focusing on F3 100%, not getting distracted with Formula 1, that’s really great.

“They just want me to finish a championship, they’re not pressuring me in any way to jump into a Formula 1 car and do a test. They just want me to focus on one thing at a time.

“I’ve never even driven a Formula 1 car so I don’t have a very good idea of what it’s really like, I just watch the races of course.

“I think when I have a couple of tests under my belt and I have a bit more experience in F1, I’ll get a much better idea of if I’m ready or not. Because now it’s just totally blind for me.

“I’ve driven F3, I’ve driven a couple of other categories, but I’ve never really sat in an F1 car and taken it out for a run, so I don’t know what it’s like, I don’t know how much different it is from what I’m doing now, how much more complicated, how much tougher.

“All those things I’ll figure out. If it is just another step and if I’m comfortable in the car, I don’t see why not. F3’s a very high level.”

Stroll does not feel under any pressure to emulate Max Verstappen, who jumped up from F3 to F1 at the age of 17 before becoming the youngest winner in grand prix history.

“We’ve seen Max of course, he’s an exception, I don’t want to use him as an example. He’s got the opportunity,” Stroll said.

“I believe [Esteban] Ocon, even [Felix] Rosenqvist, these guys are able to do it. Now it’s my year. I’m leading the championship, it’s not done yet.

“But I think I’ve got to a level where I’m able to step up into an F1 seat if the opportunity comes.”

Although Stroll has time on his side, he wants to make the most of opportunities that come his way, making GP2 and IndyCar possible options for 2017.

“I don’t want to rush. I’m not 25 years old, I’m still 17, so I do have time ahead of me,” Stroll said.

“But that’s a thing that’s important. We can’t just think we have time, take another year and another year because before you know it, it’s too late and there’s another 17 year old!

“One thing at a time. This year, we’re concentrating on this championship.

“And then next year, we’ll be in whatever it is: GP2, F1, IndyCar – whatever comes up, we’ll conquer next.

“Prema are extremely competitive, beyond expectations for their first season in GP2. That is a link. If Prema want to make a deal and a sensible choice for us, that’s another good option.”

Although Stroll has enjoyed support from his father, Lawrence, he is happy to have answered his critics on-track with a stunning season in FIA European F3.

“All I can do is go out and do the best I can. I have won, I am winning at the moment,” Stroll said.

“For sure it’s frustrating, I think I don’t get all the credit sometimes I deserve, but I try not to look at all those negative things. I try and really be positive.

“I know I’m the guy sitting in the cockpit driving the car and the other stuff, that’s just details.

“The people who understand that, good for them. The people who want to be jealous or want to find excuses, then I don’t waste my time with them.”

Besides F3, Stroll also raced for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, finishing fifth on debut alongside Alexander Wurz, Brendon Hartley and Andy Priaulx.

Team boss Chip Ganassi was hugely impressed by Stroll’s ability and hopes to work with the Canadian again in the future, even if he knows bigger offers may fall his way.

“He’s doing great in F3 but I’m not surprised as I was very impressed with him when he raced with us at the Rolex in January,” Ganassi said.

“He quickly adapted to his first time in a sports car, first time at Daytona, first time in a 24 hour race, first time racing at night and first time ‘sharing’ his race car with others.

“He’s an intelligent kid with bags of potential and has a great future ahead of him. I know his dream is F1 but I hope I get the chance of running him again.”

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff also thinks highly of Stroll, believing his maturity to outstrip his 17 years.

“I obviously need to keep an eye on other formulae and Lance is certainly doing very well in Formula 3 this season,” Wolff said.

“He’s shown great speed, consistency and maturity this year. His speed can be seen with multiple front row starts and I think now seven wins.

“His maturity is evident and he’s not even 18. When the time comes I’m certain he’ll be ready and competitive in Formula 1.”

“Formula 1’s the objective,” Stroll adds. “However we get there, whenever we get there – I don’t know. We’ll wait and see.”

Will Power shows Flavor Flav what time it is in IndyCar: ‘This is the highlight of the weekend’

Will Power Flavor Flav
Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

DETROIT – When Flavor Flav unexpectedly showed up in Team Penske’s pits for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix weekend, Will Power knew what time it was.

So the defending NTT IndyCar Series champion dropped it on the man who made oversized clocks as fashion accessories famous.

And he used the kind of wordplay that was the pride of Public Enemy (the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rap group led by Chuck D with Flavor Flav as loyal sidekick).

“I said to Flavor Flav, ‘You know, people today are going to have to ‘Fight the Power,’ ” Power said with a broad smirk, referencing one of Public Enemy’s most memorable and strident anthems. “And it was true! They had to ‘Fight the Power.’ ”

With a second place in Detroit, the No. 12 Dallara-Chevy driver earned his best finish since last September and impressed a musical hero who apparently attended his first IndyCar race this weekend and promptly fell in love with the sport.

After being interviewed by NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee during the Peacock qualifying broadcast Saturday, Flavor Flav made the rounds. He met with Roger Penske in Team Penske’s at-track headquarters and also ran into Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (who was at the track Saturday).

“I have a great picture of Roger Penske, the governor and Flavor Flav,” Detroit Grand Prix chairman Bud Denker said. “It’s a great one. I’ll cherish that one for a long time. It’s pretty precious.”

With the Detroit GP holding nightly free concerts in Hart Plaza inside the race course, Flav made an impromptu appearance to freestyle at Big Boi’s show Friday before also showing up during Steve Aoki’s Saturday night set.

He then rode with Power and his wife, Liz, in a pickup truck around the 1.645-mile street course during driver introductions Sunday morning.

Flav was wearing a red No. 12 Will Power shirt that the defending series champion believes was purchased at a track merchandise trailer.

“That is the highlight of the weekend,” he said. “Flavor Flav was wearing my shirt, man.”

It was a dream come true for the two-time IndyCar champion and 2018 Indy 500 winner. Power, 42, grew up listening to Public Enemy with his buddies in Toowoomba, Australia, and they went nuts when he posted photos with Flavor Flav to his personal Facebook page.

“My friends are like, ‘Dude, you should just quit racing now. You have made it to the top,’ ” Power said. “We all listened to Public Enemy, and they would never believe that I actually would be hanging out with Flavor Flav. That is nuts. I’ll have to go Vegas to hang out with him. Maybe we’ll do a rap together.”

“Yeeaaah, boy!” third-place finisher Felix Rosenqvist, who apparently gave “It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back” a few spins while growing up in Sweden, chimed in during the postrace news conference.

The only disappointment for Power was coming up 1.1843 seconds short of beating Alex Palou.

Flav had promised to celebrate on the podium if Power had won the race.

“He is the most positive dude you will ever meet,” Power said. “Pretty cool experience. Pretty cool to put it on your personal Facebook.

“All your friends that you went to school with, they’re like, ‘Man this dude is big-time, he’s hanging out with Flavor Flav. ‘I sat next to Ice-T at dinner. I have also had dinner with Slash from Guns N’ Roses. I wish I got videos of those ones as well so I could put it on the personal Facebook

“No one cares about race cars or that I won the Indy 500. It’s like, ‘You had dinner with Slash? You know Flavor Flav?’ Yeah!”

Power already has in mind some future musical guests he’d like to meet, starting with another of Detroit’s own.

“I’m more of a ’90s rap guy, but if I met Eminem, that would also be epic,” Power said. “Ice Cube’s the one, man. If I could meet Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg in Long Beach. Why doesn’t someone bring them to Long Beach? Maybe they should have an Ice Cube day. That would be dope.”