Williams Martini Racing has announced Lance Stroll will join its driver development programme for the 2016 Formula 1 season.
Fresh from an eye-catching maiden season in the European Formula 3 Championship, which yielded a win at Hockenheim en route to fifth in the overall standings, Canadian teenager Stroll will take on a role considered similar to that of Valtteri Bottas' when he joined the team in 2010.
With Bottas going on to progress to a full-time race drive in 2013 and emerge as a front runner in 2014 and 2015, 17 year-old Stroll is thrilled with the opportunity to be collaborating with the multiple F1 title-winning team.
“I'm really honoured to be part of such a great team [Williams] and one with so much history and success. I cannot wait to start working with them and very much hope we can achieve great things together in the coming years. It's a very exciting and crucial time in my short motor racing career.
“Reaching F1 was always the ultimate goal, I suppose ever since driving a go-kart my father had bought me for my fifth birthday. We set up some cones in a parking lot and I just drove around. Three years later I had my first kart race and won by which time I was waking up on Sundays and watching my idol Michael Schumacher on television racing in Grands Prix around the world and dreaming that could be me one day.
“Williams has a long history of nurturing young drivers at the start of their F1 careers. Damon Hill, David Coulthard, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hülkenberg and most recently Valtteri [Bottas]. This element was something that was important to me in making the decision to join Williams. I'm very thankful to the Ferrari Driver Academy and proud to have represented the legendary Italian brand since 2010.
“Their guidance and experience has been massively beneficial for my career coming through from karting in to single-seaters and laying the foundations for what I hope will ultimately be a successful F1 career. But my future is now with Williams which I'm very excited about.”
Highlighting Bottas as an example of Williams' success in nurturing up and coming drivers., deputy team principal Claire Williams says Stroll – who will continue to race in the European F3 Championship with Prema Powerteam – is a 'promising talent for the future'.
"At Williams, we are committed to using our resource and expertise to help talented young drivers to reach their potential. We have a track record of success in this area, having supported Valtteri Bottas in his growth from a development driver role to a race driver and one of the most respected talents in Formula One.
“We have identified Lance as a promising talent for the future and we are happy to provide our support to his development as a driver. We look forward to working with Lance in 2016 and to the success he can achieve in the future."