12 Feb 2018
The 19-year-old Canadian endured a mixed rookie season with Williams in 2017, finishing 12th in the drivers’ standings and three points behind veteran teammate Felipe Massa.
After a slow start to the campaign – having retired from the first three races – Stroll scored his first point at his home race in Canada, before becoming the youngest rookie to ever step foot on the podium with a remarkable third-place finish at a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Five further points finishes followed, while Stroll also impressed by setting the fourth fastest time during a wet qualifying session at the Italian Grand Prix. Despite managing some impressive feats in his rookie campaign, Stroll has faced constant criticism from fans that view him as a ‘pay driver’ who only got his F1 shot due to his father’s wealth.
“I stay in my little bubble – that is what I try and do,” Stroll told the Express and Star. “There is always noise out there and distractions, but you just have to block all that noise out. People will say things. The crucial thing for me is that I stick to my job.
“I believe I have earned my shot in F1,” he added. “I have won F3 and we all know F3 is a very high level. I come from a background that when I win, people try to put me down, and when I lose, people try to put me down. I accept that and I actually find it kind of funny.”
Following a tough start to his career, Stroll revealed he has drawn inspiration from the way Hamilton dealt with the pressure of an intense title fight with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in 2017.
“You saw in the title race last year how well Lewis handles pressure, (Sebastian) Vettel folded, but Lewis was able to handle that expectation. His car wasn’t always easy to drive. Mercedes struggled at a few races.
“But he still managed to get the most out of it and score points when he had to. He was consistent throughout the whole year. He really was on it, he was determined to score points every weekend.
“Hats off to him, he completely deserves the success he has had. He is extremely talented and I hope I can have half the success he’s had in my career.”
Stroll, who will be partnered at Williams by new teammate Sergey Sirotkin in 2018, has vowed to come back stronger heading into his sophomore F1 season.
“It was important I spent the off-season reflecting. I now feel a completely different driver to the one I was a year ago. I’ve got a lot improving to do. Qualifying in particular, I need to do better there. But I’m confident I will. I’ve got a big year ahead.
“Over the course of the year I’ve changed dramatically as a driver, I’ve learned a tremendous amount. I’m going to come back for the new season and be much stronger, both mentally and physically.”