Posted on June 9, 2010
Ferrari hires an 11 year old Canadian to evoke the memory of Villeneuve | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

Ferrari has announced this morning that its Driver Academy has taken on an 11 year old kart racer named Lance Stroll.

A native of Quebec, his signing evokes memories of Gilles Villenueve, whom Enzo Ferrari hired in 1977 and after whom the circuit in Montreal, which F1 visits this weekend, is named.

A Ferrari driver at 11 - no wonder he's smiling!


Stroll becomes the youngest member of the recently formed academy, which is managed by former Ferrari race engineer Luca Baldisserri. The programme also has some promising talent higher up the ladder including French driver Jules Bianchi and Mirko Bortolotti. Stroll’s signing parallels the initiatives McLaren has been running for years and which brought Lewis Hamilton through the system from the age of 13.

Ferrari did not have a driver development programme in place, something which was painfully exposed last season when they needed a stand in for the injured Felipe Massa. As a result of that episode a programme was put in place and now it is starting to get motoring.

Stroll finished sixth in the world finals in his category last year and has won Canadian and US championships and was nominated rookie of the year by the Canadian motorsport Federation. He is the son of Lawrence Stroll, who owns the Mont Tremblant circuit, is one of Canada’s Rich List Top 100 and an old friend of Ferrari.

“He is young but he has already shown that he is exceptionally talented, “said Baldisserri. “We will follow him step by step and he will take part in our courses at Maranello.”


It is poignant that Ferrari should sign another French Canadian. Gilles Villeneuve is one of the most powerful icons in Ferrari’s pantheon, a free spirit who blazed a short but spectacular trail in F1, winning six Grands Prix and losing his life in a qualifying accident in May 1982. He was one of the most exciting drivers ever to race an F1 car and is one of the most celebrated drivers among Ferrari’s fanbase, the Tifosi.

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Ferrari hires an 11 year old Canadian to evoke the memory of Villeneuve
30 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Henry
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 11:44 am 

    Now that kid is very lucky…what an opportunity! While I do agree with the statement that his signing evokes memories of Villeneuve I do hope that he wont have to be compared to that legend for his career, it would put rather alot of pressure on very young shoulders!

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  2.   2. Posted By: Formula Zero
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 11:45 am 

    Making of another Hamilton, just in different garage I guess.

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    Tm Goodfellow Reply:

    Hamilton’s dad wasn’t worth 450 million and own Ferrari dealerships as well as race tracks like this kid :) So I wouldn’t say ‘another Hamilton’, Another rich kid, yes.

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    Andy C Reply:

    Indeed. Sounds like favour to an old friend. Sure the kid is good though, its not quite like plucking someone out of obscurity…

    Best of luck to him anyway.

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    Tim Reply:

    Well it is slightly as this kid really hasn’t delivered at any recognisable level like other F1 signings in the past.

    Same old story – it’s all about the mooonneeyyy which this kid has in spades. It’s hard not to be good being that rich.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if his dad has paid Ferrari to be on the programme.


  3.   3. Posted By: Matthew
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 12:09 pm 

    I know of Hamilton’s success as a child in his early teens teaming up with Mclaren, a relationship that still endures today. What other children besides Hamilton have truly been brought up by a single team, from childhood to professional racing?

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    Kirsty Reply:

    I think only McLaren sign up kids that young. I believe the other young drivers programs offered by Renault and Red Bull do not sponsor kids until they graduate to single seaters? nonetheless, they seem quite willing to give their own young drivers a chance in F1, e.g. Heikki, Grosjean, Vettel, Buemi etc. On the other hand, If you’re with Mclaren, you’re more likely to debut in DTM than F1 :D

    [Reply]

    Tm Goodfellow Reply:

    Vettel was with RedBull when he was karting.

    [Reply]

    Kirsty Reply:

    Oh we’ve got another “manufactured” driver:)


  4.   4. Posted By: Peter
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 12:21 pm 

    I always get goosebumps when the Villeneuve name is mentioned with Ferrari!

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  5.   5. Posted By: Internet Marketing Expert
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 12:25 pm 

    Gilles Villeneuve was a great driver – horrible accident too.

    Any idea of how exactly Ferrari will support this boy – apart from “talking part in courses at Maranello”?

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    Jamie Kirkland Reply:

    The association with Ferrari should get him better drives when he is trying to move up the formula

    [Reply]

    Tm Goodfellow Reply:

    His father is Lawrence Stroll who happens to own Montreal Ferrari and Circuit Mont Tremblant. He’s worth about 450 million. This kid has done well in Canada, but you would expect that from a son of a muilti millionaire. He hasn’t raced the best karters in the world (the rotax world finals which has competed is far from that), and this screams of a PR exercise from Ferrari helping an ol’ mate who sells lots of their cars.

    Lewis Hamilton MKII this certainly isn’t

    [Reply]

    Tombong Reply:

    So what if he is a rich kid?! Ayrton Senna came from a rich family

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: Xman
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 12:30 pm 

    It seems Ferrari is chasing their tail in most sectors of their business relating to F1.

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Charan
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 12:52 pm 

    Welcome to Montreal James – the best stop of the year!!!

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: Brent McMaster
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 1:28 pm 

    James he is a Quebecer but not likely of French descent, Lance Stroll. It is the law in Quebec that signs must be in French and children must be educated in French as their first language.Less than 50% of the population of Quebec is actually born to French ancestry.

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: Kedar
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 3:34 pm 

    Guess another recipe for a “Manufactured champion” (who can run into his team mate who is leading the race blah blah)
    Teams in F1 just jump into the bandwagon, first there were the Drivers from the US, then from Formula Nippon then GP2 and now kids who can be future champions… wonder how serious the kid really is!

    [Reply]

    Jason C Reply:

    Isn’t every champion in every sport ‘manufactured’, then? They all have to train and compete and win. Some get a lucky break with funding and contacts, true, but that happens in every other sport, too.

    [Reply]

    SteveH Reply:

    Jason, what happens in every other sport than racing is that they cost WAY less. Having raced, from my own pocket, Formula Ford, Ford 2000, and an occasional Atlantic race I can assure you that racing is incredibly expensive, especially when you have to pay for it from your own pocket. There are breaks and there are breaks, and in racing the breaks have to be enormously more lucrative than in, say, soccer, where you are out the cost of shoes, ball, uniform, etc. Any guess how much you can spend in a weekend on tires? Have you priced a really good set of racing dampers lately? What this is is a rich kids son. Believe me, it’s way easier to win in racing when you have money than not. Unfortunately, talent isn’t the only thing.

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    David Turnedge Reply:

    Truth is, driving a car fast is relatively easy (I’ve done it myself) but getting the last 1% and winning races is all talent. No amount of budget can make a good driver look great over his career. So don’t begrudge this kid’s Ferrari dream. Here’s hoping we’re watching him in 15 years entertaining us and provoking analysis from has-beens like us.

    Jason C Reply:

    Of course, I completely agree. What I’m getting at though is that in motorsport no champion is more manufactured than any other – as you say there must be some amazing talents out there that have never turned a wheel in competition because of the funding thing. Motorsport has always been a rich man’s game and though it’s perhaps a little more accessible than it once was, it’s still something that is way out of reach for most people, even in the richest countries.

    Add to that the rest of the package you need – a father / mother / agent who can sweet talk the sponsors, and the incredible coincidences you need to happen just to bump into the right people, and it’s a much rarer thing to be able even to compete at motorsport than it is to play football or cricket etc.

    That still doesn’t, in my opinion, mean that champions are manufactured; just that they are chosen from a smaller pool.


  10.   10. Posted By: malcolm.strachan
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 6:52 pm 

    Son of Lawrence Stroll, who has raced several times in the Ferrari Challenge, owns several historic Ferrari racing cars, owns an FXX Enzo and owns Le Circuit Mont Tremblant, which holds a very big Ferrari Festival each year.

    I hope this is all just a coincidence, and that the kid earned this through talent displayed, rather than his father’s connections.

    I hope Ferrari doesn’t know that Lawrence also owns a McLaren F1 GT car! ;)

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: BRNDLL
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 7:13 pm 

    …just as serious as an 11 year old can be I would imagine (and hopefully not too much so). Funny, just like my 11 year old… with a Moutain Dew in his hand. ;]

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: kowalsky
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 7:18 pm 

    he sure will know how to deal with pressure when he gets to f1.

    [Reply]


  13.   13. Posted By: Tm Goodfellow
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 7:44 pm 

    Sorry to rain on the parade but this kid’s father is a muilti millionaire who happens to own Ferrari Montreal and Circuit Mont Tremblant.

    The kid doesn’t race in the highest levels of karting and the ‘world finals’ you refer to is the Rotax series, and not the pinnacle CIK World Championship/WSK series.

    This is just Ferrari and one of their dealerships hooking up for some free publicity. This kid is not the next Lewis Hamilton, and this signing is nothing like what McLaren and Hamilton did all those years ago. While Hamilton’s dad was struggling to pay for Cadet karting this kids dad has a net worth of around 450million.

    Nyck De Vries – now that is what the real deal looks like!

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: Meeklo
        Date: June 9th, 2010 @ 8:24 pm 

    I bet Massa’s glad he just got his contract renewed. LOL

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: Mark V
        Date: June 10th, 2010 @ 12:03 am 

    11 years old, that’s really young, although it appears this is more of a publicity stunt.

    In other news, for their competing young driver program, McLaren just signed up a frozen vial of Ayrton Senna’s sperm that has been stored in a Brazilian sperm bank since 1994.

    [Reply]


  16.   16. Posted By: MarkyMark
        Date: June 10th, 2010 @ 6:16 am 

    So what’s next… Ferrari is going to sign a stem cell and really “grow” a champion from scratch!

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: teamworkf1
        Date: June 12th, 2010 @ 10:23 pm 

    ferrari copycats!!! They have no ideas by themselves!! tttsskkkk

    [Reply]

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