Lance Stroll has rejected Felipe Massa’s belief that Williams prioritised its financial outlook over driver choice in setting its Formula 1 driver line-up for 2018, saying that all he needs is a competitive car to return back to the points.

Massa was replaced at Williams for 2018 by Sergey Sirotkin, who, like Stroll, brings a considerable amount of financial support to the team courtesy of the Russian scheme SMP Racing.

Williams is currently the only team yet to score a point so far this season due to ongoing struggles with its FW41 car, with Massa telling Autosport two weeks ago that he believed its on-track woes were not helped by its driver choices.

Asked about Massa’s comments, Stroll hit back by saying he was an even match for the Brazilian during their time as teammates through 2018, instead pinning Williams’ poor form on the underlying issues with the car.

“First of all, Felipe’s not here. He’s gone, he’s retired,” Stroll said.

“Last time I checked, I finished one position behind Felipe. And not really using Felipe as a reference, using myself as a reference.

“I look at where I was at stages last year when the car could do it. In China I was in Q3. In other races, many races, I was scoring points. It’s not like I know I can’t do it, it’s not possible.

“It’s purely at the moment the problem is that with a really competitive and good race, we are P14, P13. Last year, we were comfortably in the points many times. That’s how I look at it.”

Stroll also confirmed he had not been contacted at all by Massa since his departure from Williams at the end of last year.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Stroll remained hopeful of picking up the team’s first points of the year despite the high-speed layout hitting certain weakness of the Williams car.

“There’s no reason why we can’t score points here in Baku. I don’t think we would come and compete if we didn’t believe that we could,” Stroll said.

“We’ve had a bit of downtime over the last couple of weeks to understand some of our problems. I think coming into this weekend we can take a bit of a different direction with the car and the setup, and hopefully that will make things a little bit better.

“Definitely the nature of the circuit is very fast, lots of long straights. Those long straights were our strength last year. Unfortunately a bit of a weakness this year.

“We’re aiming to cure some of those problems, and if we can do that, I definitely believe we can be much more competitive."

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