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Pay driver title really irritates me - Claire Williams

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Pay driver title really irritates me - Claire Williams
By:
Co-author: Erwin Jaeggi
May 17, 2018, 1:52 PM

Claire Williams, Deputy Team principal of the Williams F1 Team, talked to Motorsport.com’s Erwin Jaeggi about Canadian driver, Lance Stroll, now in his second season in Grand Prix racing.

 Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, Williams
Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, Williams Martini Racing
Claire Williams, Williams Deputy Team Principal
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 and Lance Stroll, Williams on the drivers parade
Lance Stroll, Williams FW41
Lance Stroll, Williams FW41
Lance Stroll, Williams FW41
Lance Stroll, Williams FW41, climbs out of his car and is assisted by marshals after spinning into the gravel
Lance Stroll, Williams Racing
Lance Stroll, Williams

The new Mercedes-powered Williams FW41 appears to be a handful to drive to the limits this season, and the results have not been really satisfying. The two cars have qualified at the queue of the pack at most races, and the 18-year-old Stroll collected only four points up to now while his rookie teammate, Sergey Sirotkin, has not scored none.

Is Claire Williams disappointed by the lack of result, and how does she rate Lance Stroll’s season so far?

“He’s done a great job actually and Lance has had a lot of criticism levelled to him and I think unfairly so,” Claire Williams said.

“I think a lot of the conversation that you hear in the media clouds his talent and I think that that’s a real shame. But he has coped with that admirably. I think to be a 18, 19-year-old and to have to confront that level of analysis and critique I think can be incredibly disheartening and self-destroying. And I think it’s incredibly unfair actually, but despite that he has managed to keep his head held high and get on with what he needs to get on with. Unfortunately, for both our drivers it’s difficult when their car isn’t as competitive as it needs to be.”

In which areas did Stroll improved the most since his rookie season last year? “I think probably, from my personal perspective, his approach really to race weekends,” she answered.

“I’m talking about all the noise around him. That can be incredibly distracting and I think he has really learned to cope with that noise and to shut it out and to remain focused on what’s important. I think he has done a good job to make sure that he can just shut that out and do what he needs to do on the track. He’s very engaged with the whole team, with the engineering team. He spends a lot of time in the factory.

“I also think all drivers have to improve across every area, whether that’s their qualifying performance or their race performance. I wouldn’t ever say: I think our drivers need to improve here, there or where. That’s not something we would necessarily do at Williams. Those are issues that we need to focus on directly with our drivers rather than talking about their weaknesses in the media,” she continued.

Both drivers have been qualified of pay drivers by some because they bring money and sponsors to the team. Where Stroll and Sirotkin chosen because of their talent or because of the money then can bring to the team?

“The pay driver title really irritates me. I think it’s a gross misnomer,” Claire Williams replied.

“I think that drivers may bring money, they may not. A lot of drivers bring money into this sport through one means or another. Drivers have partners that follow them from team to team and yet because those drivers may be successful, they are not categorized as pay drivers. I just think it’s a very negative way of just trying to criticize a driver when really there is no criticism that should be levelled.

“This is a very expensive sport and teams like ours need budget to survive, that’s a reality. We don’t choose our drivers purely based on how much money they bring. They have to bring talent as well. If they come with financial backing, then that’s great. And invariably it’s us to fight for that financial backing. It’s not just someone comes along and writes a big check and you say thank you very much. You have to sell your team. You have to make sure that what those backers are bringing or paying, they get a return on that investment. It’s not just about buying a seat, it’s all the other assets that go with that,” she concluded.

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Lance Stroll Shop Now
Teams Williams
Author René Fagnan