Sunday, August 3, 2014

XSL Speed Reporter Exclusive Interview: F4 Italian Championship Driver Lance Stroll

Photo Credit: ACI Sport S.p.A.

Right now, a hordes of 15 year-olds scramble for some resolution to potential boredom occurring through the second half of summer vacation. Some may be looking forward to a family trip or may have taken on a summer job to make a productive use of time. This year, Canadian auto racing prospect Lance Stroll is taking a unique tour of Italy at the wheel of single-seat, open-wheel race car.

Even before he is old enough to possess a Canadian driver’s license, Lance Stroll has been putting miles on a turbocharged Fiat Abarth-powered race car. Competing in the inaugural season of the F4 Italian Championship, the Montreal-born prospect graduated from competition karting where he won in Canada as well as the United States showing favourably in world tournaments. Those performances garnered the attention of the Ferrari Driver Academy. Over a short time period, the driver development has developed Formula 1 drivers Sergio Perez and Jules Bianchi. The only North American native part of the 2014 five-driver squad, the accomplishment is nothing less than phenomenal.

Not only is Lance Stroll racing in the 2014 F4 Italian Championship, he has bested some of the world’s brightest new hopes for open wheel greatness. Driving the #18 car for the Prema Power Team, the 15-year-old Canadian has won four races overall and leads in the drivers’ standings after nine races completed. Stroll has won on the circuit of Imola as well as the Mugello Circuit (a favourite test track among Formula 1 drivers and teams). Along with Bruno Spengler and Robert Wickens in the DTM series, Lance Stroll is presently another driver carrying the Canadian maple leaf flag racing in Europe.

As a special privilege to XSL Speed Reporter ahead of an upcoming round in Magione, the Canadian Ferrari Driver Academy member answered some questions in helping us get to know more about him and his career.

Photo Credit: ACI Sport S.p.A.

The list of drivers competing so far in the F4 Italian Championship has given the series a United Nations-style appearance. Do you find it special to contend on a world stage at a young age?

Yes, I do. At the same time, though, the level is also quite low since all the drivers are all coming out of karting. But I’m very happy to be part of the championship and I’m looking forward to the next races.


Can you describe the sensation of racing your F4 Car?

There’s not too much excitement in the car since it’s very low power and low aerodynamics but it’s still a great sensation just driving a car instead of a go-kart so I love it and I can’t wait for the next few steps coming up and going to the bigger categories.

You're fifteen years old and far away from home as you are competing in F4 Italian Championship. Obviously your family has been supportive with your racing activities but you're quite a ways from home. Can you describe your family relationship as you pursue your passion?

The truth is I am far away from home but at the same time, I’m here at Ferrari and I feel very much at home. My family are very supportive with me with the racing. I have a sister and she came as well from Canada to Europe so there’s a lot of support from everyone and they just wish me the best and I’m very thankful.


Photo Credit: ACI Sport S.p.A.

What driver(s) have most inspired you as a race car driver?

My favourite driver in Formula 1 is Fernando Alonso. I think with the car the way it is this year, Ferrari obviously is not the strongest in the field and he’s done some incredible things with the package he has so he’s definitely my favourite professional driver.


Being part of the Ferrari Driver Academy you must be receiving some specialized training in honing your development. Could you please provide an understanding to what is provided through your membership. Also, what resources have been made available to you that has helped you so far?

I think with Ferrari, we do a lot of fitness training and simulation training as well as the mental training, which are the three main factors that we work most on and I think what Ferrari helps very much with is they know the stepping stones it takes to get to the highest level of racing so you learn so much from the people who work here with the Driver Academy and it’s like nowhere else you could be so I’m extremely happy to be working with these people. They’ve taught me so much in the last years and again, I’m looking forward to the future and I’m ready to learn a lot more.


Photo Credit: ACI Sport S.p.A.

During the 1990s, a slew of Canadian drivers (Jacques Villeneuve, Greg Moore and Alex Tagliani to name a few) were assisted through the Players Driver Development Program similar to the Ferrari Driver Academy. Do you wish a similar program existed in Canada?

Yes and no. There are times when I miss home for sure, but as well, I think part of the enjoyment is coming here and being with the team at Ferrari. I think it wouldn’t be the same if it were at home. That’s part of the fun, coming to Italy and doing something new, being with the Scuderia Ferrari team, so yes and no I’d have to say on that question. Like I said earlier, there are days where I miss home but as well, I think it’s a great new adventure to come to Italy and work with one of the greatest Formula 1 teams in the world.


Clearly you would consider Formula 1 as an ultimate goal. What do you think of the new Formula 1 cars and rules for 2014?

I think it’s interesting but at the same point, I don’t agree with the ways of saving tyres and fuel and many factors that are in Formula 1 today. I think it’s exciting for the people. I don’t love the sound myself. I think it used to sound better with the normally-aspirated engine. It’s a new Formula 1 but if you ask me which one I prefer, I definitely think the old style of Formula 1 was more pure racing.

Of any production Ferrari from past to present, which one would you most want?

One of my favourite Ferraris is the P4. I think it’s an unbelievable car. It’s the car I love most in the world so that’s definitely it.

Late Breaking News: At this weekend's F4 Italian Championship round in Magione, Lance Stroll won the opening race. Race 2 ended early for the Canadian with contact between Prema Power Team teammate Brandon Maisano in the third lap. Race 3 ended with Stroll taking the runner-up position but top in his class concluding with a 232-point total in the championship standings.

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