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.
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.