Claire Williams says the work Lance Stroll is putting in for the team away from spotlight of a Formula 1 race weekend gives her confidence the Canadian teenager is meeting expectations as she refutes criticisms from Jacques Villeneuve.

After Stroll's maiden home race in Montreal his fellow countryman and former F1 world champion Villeneuve branded the teenager 'one of the worst rookie performers in the history of F1'.

Stroll shrugged off Villeneuve's comments and duly silenced any further criticisms with a maiden podium in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but questions have still remained around the 18-year-old's performance levels in F1.

Asked about her reaction to Villeneuve's criticisms of Stroll, Claire Williams says the team believes he has already proven his worth in the sport and will continue to give him the opportunity to silence the critics.

"With regard to Jacques' comments, he's obviously been pretty vocal in the media," Williams said. "I don't want to go into a huge amount of detail about it. I don't think there's any need.

"The way that Lance describes it, he just wants to get on and let his track performance do the talking. I think that's what we should do because that's when the critics will stop. When Lance proves he deserves to be in Formula One, which we all at Williams believe anyway.

"You may have only just seen the results on the race track but if you could see the hard work he's put in behind the scenes over the course of the year, it's been really impressive. This is a big step-up from the junior formula. I think people can underestimate that step at times.

"He's delivered against everything we expected of him and I'm looking forward to seeing how he'll move forward for the rest of the year. It's great to now have two cars that are scoring points for us in the Constructors' Championship."

In 1996, Villeneuve joined F1 as a reigning IndyCar champion and in his rookie campaign driving for Williams finished the year runner-up in the world championship to team-mate Damon Hill.

A year later Villeneuve went one step better by clinching the F1 world title with Williams in 1997 in the season Michael Schumacher was infamously disqualified after deliberately crashing into Villeneuve at the season finale.

Halfway through his rookie F1 season, Stroll has secured three points finishes including his maiden podium in Baku and is five points off of team-mate Felipe Massa in the world drivers' championship.



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