Stroll ‘at Ocon’s level in simulator’ – Szafnauer | 2019 F1 season

Lance Stroll matched his Racing Point predecessor Esteban Ocon’s performance in their simulator, according to team principal Otmar Szafnauer.

The team, which was known as Force India before it was taken over by Stroll’s father Lawrence, has replaced Ocon with the 20-year-old for the 2019 F1 season.

Stroll had a seat fitting at the team in August shortly after his father’s consortium completed its asset purchase. He was widely expected to replace Ocon for next year, and the move was announced after Stroll drove the team’s car in the post-season test at Yas Marina.

“Lance absolutely loved his time in the car,” said Szafnauer in an interview for the official F1 website. “He said the car could do the things that he wants the car to do, which is good.

“And we were duly impressed with Lance. We were already impressed with him when he ran in the simulator, he was on the pace very quickly, up to Esteban’s level in the simulator.

“We were just hoping that the pace he showed in the simulator would translate onto the track and it did. He was very quick on track too.”

Szafnauer said the team has identified the first areas it needs to work on with its new driver.

“We’ve got some good potential there in Lance and we’ll work with him to hopefully teach him some things we know about how to drive the tyre and how to preserve it, make it go quick and last over the stint. We’ll do that with him, help him qualify better too.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“But he brings some great skills. He’s quick, he usually does a great job at the start, over the first lap he usually makes up places so we’re looking forward to work with him.”

The departure of the highly-rated Ocon in favour of Stroll, who has largely failed to impress since making his F1 debut last year, prompted some complaints about the advantages wealthy drivers enjoy in the sport.

Szafnauer said he considers Ocon a “champion of the future” and suggested his connection to Mercedes had limited his options for next season.

“Esteban’s young enough, Esteban had opportunities this year but they weren’t forthcoming I think due to his management structure. It’s just how Formula 1 is.

“However I think in time those guys with the talent will come to the forefront, their talent will rise.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles