The Montréal-born Canadian, who only turns 18 later this month (29 Oct), secured the prestigious title after placing second, first and first in the latest races in Italy this weekend (1-2 Oct) after a dominant, season-long display. Having led the championship after the first race and then unopposed since May, the Williams Formula One Development driver’s points advantage is now unassailable. Lance became the youngest ever F3 Euro Series & FIA Formula 3 European Championship winner – which spans over 40 years – and the first F3 champion from Canada – after scoring his 10th victory of the season in Race 2 today (2 Oct).
Stroll’s second F3 season with the Prema Powerteam has been supremely successful. The British Racing Driver’s Club “Rising Star” has posted a mighty 21 top-six finishes from 27 race starts – 17 of these podium placings including 11 race wins – failing to score points in just three races. His speed in the Dallara F312-Mercedes has not only been confined to the actual races, Lance staggeringly starting over two-thirds of the races this season from the front two rows of the grid – an amazing 15 times from the front row and 12 from pole-position.
Other notable achievements in an awesome season include registering a winning race margin of 12.424secs (Red Bull Ring) – the biggest for three years spanning over 90 individual FIA F3 Euro races. A fastest race lap (Zandvoort) that was an incredible 0.4secs quicker than the next fastest in dry conditions. Recording in a wet qualifying session (Spa-Francorchamps), the largest “pole” margin – an extraordinary 1.270secs – since the FIA Formula 3 European Championship began in 2013 while after the 16th race of the season, he topped the standings by 99pts. Additionally, Lance has led twice as many races and individual laps than the next best driver.
This weekend Lance, racing at the 4.909km, 20-turn Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari track located near Bologna for only the second time, started all three races from “pole”. In Saturday morning’s race, he built a gap of over a second after 10mins but the first of two brief Safety Car periods nullified his lead on each occasion before being demoted to second immediately on the resumption of the race second time around with seven minutes remaining. Lance, driving sensibly with the “bigger picture” of the championship title in mind, finished runner-up by a mere 0.788secs having set the race’s fastest lap on the penultimate tour.
On Sunday morning Stroll, who has also scored enough points to qualify for a FIA Super Licence, had impressively built a gap of almost two seconds by the second lap before the first of three Safety Car interventions – the track still damp off line due to overnight rain. But on each of the re-starts, Lance was in no mood to relinquish the lead, superbly timed re-starts combined with a series of fastest laps, earning Stroll his 10th victory of the season and crucially the championship title. The afternoon race witnessed an unchallenged, green light to chequered flag near eight seconds victory plus fastest lap once again. Meanwhile Prema secured its sixth consecutive Teams’ Euro F3 title having topped the podium 17 times in 2016.
Lance, who has competed in 59 FIA F3 Euro races over the past two years, switched to car racing in 2014 after multiple race and championship success in karts. He won the 2014 Italian Formula 4 Championship (14 podiums including 10 outright wins, 10 poles, 10 fastest laps from 17 races) and the 2015 Toyota Racing Series (10 podiums including four wins, two fastest laps from 16 races) before finishing fifth in his maiden F3 season. At the beginning of this year, he became the youngest highest-placed overall finisher in the history of the Daytona 24 Hours when he posted fifth place on his Daytona International Speedway debut and in his maiden 24 hour race. The final three races of the 2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship are staged at Hockenheim in Germany on 15-16 October.
“Words cannot adequately describe my feelings on winning the FIA Formula 3 European Championship title. Our pace from the opening race in April has been unbelievable, in both qualifying and the actual races. A combination of many things has allowed us to be ultra-consistent – a fact that wins titles. The Prema team, who I’ve raced with since 2014, has worked very hard for me while I’ve worked hard at the tracks, and away from them, to be at the level I am today.
“Imola is one of my favourite tracks. I topped the times in both Free Practice sessions on Friday and ultimately started all three races from pole. I scored good points in the opening race, leading until the second re-start after a Safety Car. I actually did nothing wrong but Niko [Kari] did a better job and I wasn’t prepared to jeopardise a rostrum finish by being overly aggressive especially as he was no threat to me in the title fight. In Sunday morning’s race, the pace was really good. Having built a lead each time I had to deal with three Safety Car re-starts. Over the last two laps I felt the title was arriving. In the third race again my pace was good and it was nice to have an uninterrupted race in terms of no Safety Cars and score an unchallenged victory.”