GROVE, United Kingdom: Canadian teenager Lance Stroll, who turned 18 last week, will replace veteran Felipe Massa in Williams’s driver line-up for the 2017 season, the British team announced on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Stroll, who doesn’t yet have a driving licence, will line up alongside Finland’s Valtteri Bottas, who will be entering his fifth successive year with Williams.
He will become the sport’s youngest driver since Dutchman Max Verstappen made his debut aged 17 in 2015.
“To be racing in Formula One in 2017 is incredible,” Stroll said after the announcement at the Williams base in Oxfordshire, west of London.
“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.”
Stroll will be the first Canadian to take to the grid since Jacques Villeneuve, who won the last of Williams’s seven Drivers’ Championships in 1997.
The driver from Montreal cruised to victory in this year’s Formula Three championship, winning by over 100 points.
“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,” he added. “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 Four and then Formula Three.”
Massa, 35, is calling time on his F1 career at the end of the season and deputy team principal Claire Williams said Stroll would make for an exciting replacement.
“Lance joined the Williams Young Driver Programme at the end of 2015 and has impressed our engineers with his maturity, talent and enthusiasm,” she said.
“He is still young, and we looking forward to seeing him develop as a driver. Williams has a great record of introducing young drivers to Formula One, who have achieved great results.
“We hope this will be the start of a long successful career for Lance as well.”