Montreal-born Stroll, who celebrated his 18th birthday on
Oct. 29 and has yet to pass his driving test, will be the first
Canadian F1 racer since 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve,
who won his title at Williams and retired in 2006.
The son of fashion billionaire Lawrence, who made a fortune from
the Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors fashion brands, Stroll will
partner experienced Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas at the
He replaces Brazilian Felipe Massa, who had already announced
his retirement from Formula One.
"Just another regular Thursday," joked Stroll when asked at a
news conference how he felt about the news. "I don't think it's
quite sunk in yet. I've been focused on F3 in 2016.
"I come from money, I'm not going to deny that," added the
Geneva resident, when it was suggested he would not be at the
team without his father bankrolling his career, but adding that
his record spoke for itself.
Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams said the team,
who celebrate their 40th anniversary next year, would not allow
financial considerations to dictate driver selection.
"You either have the talent or you don't," she said.
"We made this decision a long time ago and we're really
excited," she said. "He deserves this season in Formula One next
"He is so capable, extremely intelligent and puts the work in...
for a 17-year-old to have achieved so much, I have total
confidence in him when he gets in the cockpit in Melbourne (next
March)," she said.
Stroll will be the youngest driver on the starting grid next
season, but not the youngest ever to start a race -- that
accolade belongs to Red Bull's Max Verstappen who was 17 years
and 166 days old when he made his debut for Toro Rosso at the
Australian Grand Prix in 2015.
The rules have been changed since then, with 18 set as the
minimum age and a points-based super license system introduced.
Stroll secured his after winning this year's European F3
Stroll has been testing for Williams already in an old Formula
One car. Previously a member of the Ferrari academy, he said F3
was a good preparation and regulation changes for 2017 could
"I think the new regulations if anything give a lot of
opportunity to the team to get further up the grid," he said,
adding that Verstappen's performances also gave him confidence.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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