As expected, reigning European Formula 3 champion Lance Stroll has been announced as a Williams Formula 1 driver for the 2017 season alongside Valtteri Bottas.
He’ll become the second youngest F1 driver to ever compete in the series and the first 18-year-old to do so when he makes his debut at next year’s Australian Grand Prix.
Bottas remains at Williams for a fifth season as a race driver, while youngster Stroll steps up to F1 after a year as a development driver at the team.
The Canadian has completed simulator work for Williams and started an on-track test programme with a 2014 car recently, although he already has enough superlicense points to be eligible to race.
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) November 3, 2016
Stroll was previously part of Ferrari’s young driver academy and dominated F3 – with backing from his billionaire businessman father – this year to take the title, having scored 14 wins.
However, it’s been reported that Williams delayed announcing Stroll as its race driver until he turned 18 (at the end of October) due to its sponsorship deal with Martini – for obvious reasons *glug glug glug*
Bottas steps up to the lead driver role after “Felipe Baby” Massa announced his retirement from F1 earlier this year.
Here’s what Stroll had to say on the big news:
“To be racing in Formula 1 in 2017 is incredible, I can’t thank Williams enough for showing faith in my ability. 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 I have earned a shot in F1. I’m very thankful to everyone who has helped me to reach this level.”