F1: Lance Stroll says he won't play sidekick to Sebastien Vettel next season

Racing Point driver Lance Stroll at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, on March 12, 2020. (Rick Rycroft / AP)

Coming off a career-best result, Canada's Lance Stroll is confident he won't simply be Sebastian Vettel's sidekick for Aston Martin next season in Formula One.

Racing Point, which will be renamed Aston Martin in 2021, announced the addition of Vettel early Thursday, one day after Sergio Perez said he would leave at the end of the present F1 campaign.

The team noted that Vettel had signed a deal for the 2021 season "and beyond" without releasing the terms of the deal.

But even though he says he has enormous respect for the four-time world champion, Stroll insists there won't be any hierarchy on the team, which is owned by a group of businessmen led by his father Lawrence Stroll.

"No, we don't do things like that in this team," the Montreal driver said during a video conference on the eve of the Tuscan Grand Prix. "We have the same car, and the driver who does the best job will end up ahead. That's how it will work with him."

Stroll, 21, said he will be able to learn a lot from Vettel.


Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow's Sebastian Vettel waves during the Formula One pre-season testing session at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, outside Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

The German has recorded 53 career victories, third behind Michael Schumacher and his longtime rival, Lewis Hamilton.

"He's extremely talented and has four world championships under his belt," Stroll said of Vettel. "He also has a lot of experience in F1, so he will bring a lot of knowledge and help us build this team."

Stroll finished third last Sunday at the Italian Grand Prix, matching the best result of his career.

"It's a great moment, but I was also very lucky," he said. "I'm more satisfied with other races earlier this season, like my fourth place in Barcelona or Hungary."

However, Stroll won't complain about good fortune.

"So it's not the best time of my career, but you also have to count on a little luck in this sport and knowing how to seize it," Stroll said. "I will try to repeat that this week ... but by betting on my pure rhythm."

Italy marked Stroll's first podium finish since a third-place showing at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June 2017.

No Canadian driver has earned an F1 victory since Jacques Villeneuve at the Luxembourg Grand Prix on Sept. 28, 1997.

"It's incredible to find myself with two F1 podiums in my career," Stroll said. "The second took a little while to arrive and unfortunately the absence of the Italian fans at the bottom of the podium made the moment a little less special."

The result put Stroll in a tie for fourth in the drivers' championship with 57 points, the same number as McLaren's Lando Norris and nine points ahead of Red Bull driver Alexander Albon.

Behind the "Big Three" -- Hamilton (164), Valtteri Bottas (117) and Max Verstappen (110) -- Stroll knows a good fight is emerging for fourth place in the drivers' standings.

"It's great to see that after half a season," Stroll said. "We've scored a lot of points, but there are still a lot of races. You have to stay calm and focused for the rest of the season."

Stroll hopes Racing Point can finish third in the constructors' championship. The team is fourth with 66 points, two points behind McLaren.

"There are still nine races left this season, and we still have a lot of work to do on the board to allow the team to finish third among constructors this season," Stroll said. "It's possible, but we will have to score the most points possible."

That battle resumes this weekend, the ninth race of the COVID-19 shortened 2020 F1 calendar.

It will be the 1000th Grand Prix in Ferrari history as well as a return to Stroll's roots.

Stroll won on the Mugello track in 2014 while driving in F4. But it won't be the same experience this time around in Ferrari's backyard.

"It's 35 seconds slower per lap (between F1 and F4) so it will be very different," Stroll said. "It's the fastest track on the calendar right now. It's really intense, and it will be really impressive to see how it's all going to go."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2020.

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