Lawrence Stroll defends Lance ahead of first home race

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Lawrence Stroll, the father of Williams driver Lance Stroll, has defended his son ahead of his first home race in Canada next weekend.

The 18-year-old's arrival in Formula 1 this season has been met with a great deal of scepticism, with many believing the strong financial backing of his family, upwards of $70m according to some reports, is the only reason he earned the seat.

His performances so far have not been great either with several crashes pre-season and other incidents in the first six races. Stroll has also yet to score a point as he struggles to match the pace of team-mate Felipe Massa.

With a lot of attention likely to be on the first Canadian to race in Montreal since 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve in 2006, Stroll Sr. insists he is not a major factor in his son's racing, telling Le Journal de Montreal: "I do not put pressure on Lance, the pressure he has is that which he puts on himself.

"I am only his father. There are professionals everywhere who are paid to handle it, and a team that is very satisfied with his behaviour and his progress."

Lawrence, himself a billionaire fashion entrepreneur, also believe some of the criticism of Stroll is due to the perception he has been spoon-fed to the top.

"For sure there is jealousy," he said. "But I want to stress that Lance earned his place in Formula 1.

"He won everywhere he went and the [licence] points that he needed, he went and got them.

"This is probably the toughest year for a youngster to start in F1, with even the teams not always understanding exactly what is going on. So you cannot ask an 18-year-old to do it alone."

Those points do hold weight as Stroll arrived as the European F3 champion, the same series Max Verstappen jumped from without claiming the crown, and the demands of the 2017 cars have made it a lot harder for new drivers to simply walk in and be fast compared to previous years.

Addressing the notion Lance is a so-called 'pay driver' directly, Stroll Sr. added: "There is not a driver here who has not been supported by millions.

"Take Sergio Perez. How do you think it happened for him?"

When the suggestion of Stoffel Vandoorne was put to him, a driver who spent his junior career with McLaren and had to wait several years to get his first full-time F1 seat, Lawrence continued: "There are two points, the first is that Vandoorne is 24 or 25, not 18 like Lance.

"And the second is that the gap between Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso is larger than the gap between Lance and Felipe Massa."