For the first time since the departure of Jacques Villeneuve in 2006, there will be a Canadian driver in Formula 1. Williams F1 has announced that Montreal's Lance Stroll will be making his F1 debut for them in 2017, replacing retiring Felipe Massa and alongside Valtteri Bottas - and it's the team with which Villeneuve became the only Canadian to ever win an F1 championship.
The 18-year old driver is coming off a Formula 3 European Championship this year, winning by 187 points. He is already three months into a seven-month test program with Williams. The program has him building up to current F1 hardware before preseason testing starts in February.
Stroll began racing in karts, and was signed to the Ferrari Driver Academy at age 11 in 2010. He then won four kart championships in 2010. 2015 brought a championship in the New Zealand Toyota Racing Series formula car series, a race win in FIA Euro F3, and saw the young driver competing in 50 races.
At today's announcement, deputy team principal Claire Williams called Stroll "the full package", and said that he is "capable, extremely intelligent and puts the work in." Stroll told media that "to be racing in Formula 1 in 2017 is incredible, I can’t thank Williams enough for showing faith in my ability. Racing in F1 was something I dreamt about as a young kid. When I began karting seriously, F1 was then the ultimate goal and especially when I started racing cars in 2014."
The last (and only) Canadian F1 champion was Jacques Villeneuve at the wheel of a Williams-Renault in 1997, the year before Lance Stroll was born. Canadian Formula 1 fans will most likely have to wait a few more years to see if Stroll can replicate that championship win.