Stroll can handle F1 pressure: Villeneuve

Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:52am EST
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Teenager Lance Stroll will be able to handle the pressure when he makes his debut for Williams as Formula One's latest hotshot next season, according to 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

The 18-year-old driver, who replaces Brazilian veteran Felipe Massa in the team's lineup, is set to be the first Canadian to start a grand prix since Villeneuve retired in 2006.

"I don’t know if you have pressure when you are 18 or 19. I don’t think you realize. The pressure comes later when you actually realize what you are getting into," said Villeneuve who won the world championship in his second season at Williams.

"At 18, 19 you are still playing even though you’re doing it professionally," he told Reuters in an interview.

"It’s not the same kind of pressure. The pressure is there if there’s a chance of you not having a career out of it which is not really a risk for him," added the 45-year-old.

Stroll won this year's Formula Three title and follows in the footsteps of 19-year-old Dutch sensation Max Verstappen, a race winner with Red Bull in his second season.

The Canadian's career to date has been financed by his billionaire father Lawrence who made a fortune from the Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors fashion brands.

Williams have said they have every confidence in the youngster, who won his junior championship in October with four races to spare, and have emphasized that he has earned the place on merit.   Continued...

May 17, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; IndyCar Series driver Jacque Villeneuve poses for the traditional photo with his car after qualifying for the 2014 Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports - RTR3PMRP