Williams has confirmed its line-up for the 2017 Formula 1 season, announcing that Valtteri Bottas will be joined by 18-year-old Lance Stroll.
Stroll steps up to F1 from Formula 3, having become the youngest champion of the FIA F3 series in 2016 and enjoyed a private testing program with Williams this fall.
Stroll was previously a member of Ferrari’s young driver academy before joining Williams in a development role in 2015. He takes the seat vacated by Felipe Massa following his decision to retire from F1 at the end of the year.
Stroll will become the first Canadian to race in F1 since 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who made his last start in 2006, and is due to be the second youngest driver to make a race start in the history of the sport.
“To be racing in Formula 1 in 2017 is incredible, I can’t thank Williams enough for showing faith in my ability,” Stroll said.
“Racing in F1 was something I dreamt about as a young kid. When I began karting seriously, F1 was then the ultimate goal and especially when I started racing cars in 2014.
“2017 is going to be a big learning curve for me, but I’m eager to absorb everything Williams can share with me so that I improve. I’ll be taking things on a race-by-race, lap-by-lap basis and hopefully progress with experience like I did when I entered Formula 4 and then Formula 3.
I believe contesting the FIA European Formula 3 Championship for the past two years has prepared me well for the step up. There are many elements for me to learn and I’m still young. I’ve been experiencing a 2014-spec Williams FW36 since August, which has gone very well. The power is incredible. I’m learning about the car, the incredible downforce, DRS and tyre management, finding a rhythm and finding the limit. I’m becoming more comfortable and confident with each run.
“I’ve enjoyed success in karting, F4, Toyota Racing Series and most recently F3 – winning every category I’ve competed in – so I believe I have earned a shot in F1. I’m very thankful to everyone who has helped me to reach this level.”
Bottas has been confirmed for a fourth season in an F1 race seat with Williams in 2017, despite having been subject to interest from Renault. The Finn is understood to have received a pay hike as a result of signing on with the team for 2017.
“Firstly, I am very happy that I will be starting my fifth season racing for Williams in 2017. It’s going to be an exciting year with all the regulation changes and a great opportunity for the team to get closer to the front,” Bottas said.
“I’ll be giving 100% as always to the team. Thank you to Frank, Claire and the whole Williams Board for their continued trust in me. Also, thank you to everyone at Williams, as it will be nice to continue working together with everyone both at the factory and the track.
“I’d also like to extend a very warm welcome from myself to Lance on joining the team. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.
“Williams is like my family. Going into next season, it will be eight years in total since I joined at the start of 2010, so it really does feel like home here. However, I still believe we haven’t yet achieved what we should, and can do together.”