Lance Stroll admits he is taking inspiration from four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton on how to handle pressure within Formula 1. The Canadian is preparing for his second season in F1, having made his debut last year with Williams after winning the European Formula 3 title.
The 19-year-old struggled to kick-start his career, picking up his first points in Canada. In a dramatic Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Stroll crossed the line in third place to become the youngest ever rookie to finish on the podium. However, he was regularly heavily out-qualified by veteran teammate Felipe Massa.
Stroll will be partnered by Sergey Sirotkin for the upcoming season after Massa retired following the end of the 2017 season. Despite the building pressure, Stroll still believes he has fully earned his shot in Formula 1.
"I stay in my little bubble - that is what I try and do,” Stroll said. "There is always noise out there and distractions, but you just have to block all that noise out. People will say things. The crucial thing for me is that I stick to my job.
"I believe I have earned my shot in F1. I have won F3 and we all know F3 is a very high level. I come from a background that when I win, people try to put me down, and when I lose, people try to put me down. I accept that and I actually find it kind of funny."
Stroll spoke of his admiration for Hamilton: "You saw in the title race last year how well Lewis handles pressure, [Sebastian] Vettel folded, but Lewis was able to handle that expectation. His car wasn’t always easy to drive. Mercedes struggled at a few races.
"But he still managed to get the most out of it and score points when he had to. He was consistent throughout the whole year. He really was on it, he was determined to score points every weekend. Hats off to him, he completely deserves the success he has had. He is extremely talented and I hope I can have half the success he’s had in my career."
He also stated that he is a completely different driver heading into the 2018 season: "It was important I spent the off-season reflecting. I now feel a completely different driver to the one I was a year ago. I’ve got a lot improving to do. Qualifying in particular, I need to do better there.
"But I’m confident I will. I’ve got a big year ahead. Over the course of the year I’ve changed dramatically as a driver, I’ve learned a tremendous amount. I’m going to come back for the new season and be much stronger, both mentally and physically."