FEBRUARY 21, 2017

Stroll defends private F1 testing world tour

Lance Stroll has played down the secrecy of his unprecedented private test programme as he prepares to debut in 2017.

Lance Stroll has played down the secrecy of his unprecedented private test programme as he prepares to debut in 2017.

The teenage Canadian admitted that his billionaire father Lawrence, a fashion mogul, was instrumental to his formative career that will culminate this year as he enters F1.

Told by Auto Motor und Sport that his father is "very rich", Stroll admitted: "That was important, of course.

"Without him it would not have been possible. In this sport you need two things: talent and money. Others have sponsors but I have my father -- the money had to come from somewhere," said the 18-year-old.

Many insiders, however, believe Stroll is far from a traditional 'pay driver', winning back-to-back junior series titles over the past three years including European F3 in 2016.

Others, like triple world champion Lewis Hamilton, think that drivers from rich backgrounds fare less well in F1, because a humble upbringing makes a driver "hungrier".

"I don't believe that," Stroll insisted. "No matter what I've done, I've always wanted to win. Once you're in the cockpit with the visor closed, it doesn't matter where you came from."

And he said his father's wealth also ramps up the pressure on his shoulders.

"People are looking more closely," the young Canadian agreed. "They want to know if I deserve the position I'm in.

"I'm grateful for the chances I've had but only I could win the championships I have -- you can't buy the super license points."

However, there is no doubt Stroll has been on a different playing field to many who went before him. Over the last year, for instance, he has been on an unprecedented private world tour of relevant F1 circuits with a 2014 Williams.

"By Christmas I had done four two-day tests and a shakedown at Silverstone. Then Monza, Spielberg, Budapest, Barcelona and most recently in Abu Dhabi. Before the new season there will be a few outside of Europe but there is not yet the agreements with the circuits.

"I think Hamilton and Villeneuve did a lot of kilometres too," Stroll argued. "Everyone has their way of getting used to formula one. Valtteri (Bottas) did the Friday practice sessions."

Finally, asked why the private testing was done in complete secrecy, he answered: "There was no reason to make it big. Williams wanted me to concentrate on my work."