Lance Stroll says he has learned to live in F1 with the “negativity” associated with his rich kid image, knowing that there will always be people who will try and pull him down.
Stroll’s access to the pinnacle of motorsport in 2017 with Williams was provided by his father, billionaire Lawrence Stroll who spent lavishly to ensure his son’s clear progress through the junior ranks.
As a rookie, Stroll acquitted himself well in his maiden season of Grand Prix racing, snatching a podium in Baku and a frontline start on the grid at Monza, a couple of feats that were easier to achieve than convincing the haters that his talent was worthy of a presence in F1.
Three years on, the 21-year-old is in the midst of his best season yet in the sport, yet the armchair cynics or doubters continue to chide the Racing Point charger, even more so since the announcement of teammate Sergio Perez’s departure from the pink squad at the end of the year to make way for Sebastian Vettel.
For Stroll, the unfavorable judgment and commentary will always be there, no matter what.
“I think it’s just how it is,” he told Natalie Pinkham’s In the Pink podcast. “I’ve come to that realisation a long time ago already.
“Everyone has their opinion. I just do my talking on the track and I try and stay in my own little bubble and block out the negativity and the outside noise.
“When you’re successful at something, you’re trying to chase your dreams, there’s some people in this world that if they’re going through frustrations and they’re envious in any shape or form, they try and pull you down with them and that’s the world we live in.
“So, there’ll always be outside noise, there’ll always be negativity. I just try and keep it positive and listen to the people that are close around me.
“That’s ultimately all that matters. You can’t please everyone, you can’t be everyone’s best friend in this world, it doesn’t work like that.”
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Stroll started strengthening his mental shield against the haters early on in F1.
“In my first year at Williams, I realised very quickly that every time I would do badly, or I would make a mistake, people would just trash me and just destroy me on the media,” he said.
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“In life as well, friends and stuff – not really friends, but people that I knew – when I would do well a lot of people were my best friend. Friends of mine that I wasn’t really so close to, all of a sudden, you’d do well and they’d be your best friend.
“As well on social media, when I’d do well it would all go quiet. All the hate and all the noise would just disappear. And then when I do bad again it would all come back, it would all restart, so I saw that pattern very early on.
“And to be honest, I mean, you’ve got to laugh at it, because if you don’t laugh at it, you’d feel like crying. So I’m trying to take it lightly to be honest.”
While his father’s money opened the doors to F1 for Lance and has kept him there since, there is no taking away from him his past success in motorsport
From Europe to New Zealand and back, Stroll learned his trade and honed his skills in the junior categories, and he did it by winning.
“I had to win those championships,” he said. “That’s why there’s the super licence points in place – the 40 points that you must achieve by winning certain championships to get the points to compete in Formula 1 – or else there’d be a lot of people without talent that could just buy their way in and once maybe be awful.
“I would like to think that I proved myself leading up to Formula 1 and in Formula 1 to an extent.
“I know I’ve had my bad years of Formula 1 and I’ve had my struggles. But at the same time, there’s been a lot of highlights, in my eyes, throughout my Formula 1 career and I want to keep going so my sights are set on the future.”