Lance Stroll says he found it “shocking” how much slower Williams was over the Bahrain Formula 1 race weekend compared to the same race in 2017, but the Canadian remains hopeful the team can make some progress ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Stroll qualified last in Bahrain before finishing the race one lap down in 14th, leaving Williams as the only team yet to score a point in F1 this year.

The team struggled through pre-season testing, identifying a number of technical issues with its new FW41 car that was slower in Bahrain last weekend than it was at the same race in 2017.

Stroll’s best time in qualifying last weekend was four-tenths of a second slower than his final time the year before, surprising the youngster.

“There’s a lot of things to address, we’re far from where we want to be. There’s a lot to address for sure,” Stroll said.

“In Bahrain it was shocking how much of a step backwards [we made] - four-tenths slower than I was last year.

“We were losing time on the straights. We haven’t improved. We improved a bit in the corners, but not even close to the extent we were hoping four.

“But then in Australia we improved the lap time a little bit compared to last year when Felipe [Massa] was in Q3. It’s a bit up and down, but it’s still early days.

“There’s still 19 races to go, and there’s a lot more to understand and to look at before we come to a conclusion.”

Despite Williams sitting towards the front of the midfield in China last year, Stroll is staying realistic about the team’s chances in Shanghai this weekend.

“Last year we were quite competitive here. Both of us were in Q3 here last year, so I’d like to think that’s positive coming into this year,” Stroll said.

“But at the same time I’m not stupid, I know that the others have made massive steps forward compared to a year ago, not only on car performance but in engine performance. In all areas it’s a completely different category, competition level, than 12 months ago.

“I know that, but still, if we could do that again, which I’d always like to think is possible, that’d be great.

“But it’s a new circuit, different conditions — in Bahrain everything’s a little bit different, so we’ll see.”

An extra challenge for Williams this weekend is that the China race comes just one week after Bahrain, making it difficult to implement any changes.

"Obviously the car hasn’t returned to Europe and it’s only been a few days between Bahrain and this race, so it’s not a secret we’re tight on time to make any big changes. But nevertheless we haven’t stopped analysing our issues and thinking about solutions," Stroll said.

"We have the performance meeting this afternoon and we’ll see what kind of changes we’re going to make — set-up, upgrades probably won’t be anything massive, but hopefully we’ll be able to unlock some of our potential."


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