Villeneuve curious to see how Stroll deals with pressures of F1

© Thomas Suer

1997 Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve is curious to see how 18-year-old Lance Stroll deals with the pressure of racing in the sport when he makes his debut with Williams next year.

Stroll was announced as a Williams driver for 2017 on Thursday ahead of his planned debut in Australia next March, where he will become the second-youngest driver to debut in F1.

Stroll will become the first Canadian to race in F1 since Villeneuve walked away from the sport in 2006, and arrives off the back of a dominant year in the FIA F3 series.

Criticism has been laid against Stroll given the sizeable funding his career has received through his billionaire father, Lawrence, but the youngster insists his track record speaks for itself.

Speaking to Le Journal de Montreal, Villeneuve offered his thoughts on Stroll’s ascension into F1, saying that while he has enjoyed a helping hand thanks to the funding, his talent is evident.

“I did say that money does not buy talent and I stand by that statement. However, paying does not mean that you have no talent,” Villeneuve said.

“In his case, this financial support comes from his father. Money allowed him to get through the front door. He’s lucky to have an unlimited budget. Very few drivers have such an opportunity.

“It will be interesting to see how Lance will evolve psychologically in F1. He will no longer be protected by his father, he will be more or less on his own.

“He is very quick and talented but he has not learned to suffer yet. I’m eager to see how he reacts under duress. If he overcomes it, like all great champions do, then the sky is the limit for him.

“Lance has fought hard to win races but he has not toiled to survive in motor racing. He is not a finished product yet and needs to learn more but that’s only normal.”