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Williams F1 mid season analysis: Does Lance Stroll match up to Felipe Massa?

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Williams F1 mid season analysis: Does Lance Stroll match up to Felipe Massa?
Aug 15, 2017, 5:20 PM

Williams' 2017 F1 season hasn't gone as smoothly as the outfit would have liked, with its fourth place battle against Force India all but lost and ...

Williams' 2017 F1 season hasn't gone as smoothly as the outfit would have liked, with its fourth place battle against Force India all but lost and fifth place now at risk.

The duo of Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa have earned 41 points so far but Williams sits an uneasy two points ahead of Toro Rosso and 60 points behind Force India, and this time last year Williams had earned 94 points and it was sitting in fourth, ahead of Force India.

Part of this 2017 slump has been due to the rude awakening faced by rookie Stroll, who was given the Williams seat after his 2016 European Formula 3 title win in place of Valtteri Bottas, who was poached by Mercedes for 2017 as Lewis Hamilton's new team-mate.

Stroll retired from all three of his first three grands prix, with a brake problem in Australia cutting short his race, a first lap collision with Sergio Perez unfortunately putting Stroll out of the Chinese GP and another collision with Carlos Sainz Jr giving him an early bath in Bahrain. He also failed to score points in the first six races of the season.

Things picked up on his home soil in Canada as Stroll picked up his first points of the season, following it up with a brilliant podium in Azerbaijan and another point in Austria, but he struggled recently at Silverstone and Hungary having finished 16th and 14th, respectively.

As a result, Stroll was criticised in the early part of the season and the jury is still out.

Massa has picked up 23 of the team's 41 points even after missing the Hungarian GP due to illness, and the briefly-retired Brazilian has out-raced Stroll consistently, raising questions in the opening part of the season about the Canadian's readiness to enter F1.

While he's Williams' most consistent source of points, Massa hasn't shone as brightly as in previous seasons either. A score of 23 points this year so far is his worst tally after 10 races in his Williams career, as he scored 38 last season, 74 in 2015 and 30 in his maiden 2014 Williams season at the same point.

The team has stagnated in performance terms as the 2017-spec F1 cars prove tough with tyres, and the low point of the season was in China as Stroll retired on lap one and Massa slipped from sixth to 14th on cold tyres.

Williams' only double-points finish came in Austria, and with Renault's Nico Hulkenberg showing signs of toppling the midfield order, Force India's likely fourth place consolidation and the continued threat of Haas and Toro Rosso, the outfit is in clear danger of falling to sixth in the constructors' standings.

Williams' 2017 season in numbers

There is an unquestionable and inevitable lead enjoyed by Massa when he's compared to team-mate Stroll and the numbers, in some cases, show large differences between the pair's performances.

Though Massa has raced 40 fewer laps this year due to his unfortunate first lap retirement in Canada and recent illness which ruled him out of Hungary, he has consistently finished in the points with an average finish of 9.5, compared to Stroll's 11.3.

With 308 laps in the top 10 compared to Stroll's 149, Massa continues to duly lead the head-to-head.

The Brazilian's points tally of 23 would have looked a lot more impressive had his suspension not buckled in Azerbaijan, costing him a likely podium which Stroll eventually took (though he was overtaken for second by Mercedes' Bottas on the home straight).

As a result of the events at Baku, Stroll's highest finish is third while Massa has finished sixth (twice), making the two seem more equal in the drivers' standings as Stroll is 12th (18 pts) and Massa 11th (23 pts).

Yet, Massa has led 383 laps over Stroll, while Stroll has led 95 laps over his team-mate, and in the five races Williams has had both drivers finish, Massa has finished ahead of his team-mate five times. Massa continues to be the more consistent for Williams in this tough season.

While he looks a lot more confident during races, Stroll's qualifying performances are yet to match his team mate as he loses the intra-team battle so far 9-1 and Massa starts races in an average grid position of 10th, while Stroll starts 15th.

Hungarian GP stand-in Paul di Resta qualified only 0.7s off Stroll's time at the Hungaroring in his first proper drive in a 2017 F1 car, which further emphasises Stroll's qualifying issues.

Those statistics are somewhat cushioned for Stroll as he gains an average of 3.7 places per race compared to Massa's 0.625, but the Azerbaijan GP slightly inflates that figure.

That three-race stint of points-finishes for Stroll - running from Canada to Austria - appear anomalous at this point as the rookie finished 16th and 14th in his last two races while Massa took points in Monaco, Austria and Great Britain with two unfortunate retirements in Canada and Azerbaijan interrupting his probable scoring spree and putting the two close together in the drivers' standings.

The rest of 2017 will therefore be an exercise in saving face: for Stroll as he attempts to build on the promise of his results in June in his rookie season and for Williams as it fights to retain fifth place.

Have your say on Williams' mid season analysis in the comment section below.

 

 
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Lance Stroll Shop Now
Teams Williams