I feel at this point Stroll’s career in F1 is fated to end up like a certain Venezuelan: he’s already got a similar crash clock website and has yet to finish a race in 3 tries. Not only that, but he has constantly been at least 0.5s off the pace to his teammate, Felipe Massa. For somebody who, despite having a billionaire father (who by the way, owns Circuit Mont Tremblant), was touted as having some serious talent.
Now, I hate that Stroll’s career has started this way, not because I am a Stroll fan (because I am not) but because this was supposed to be a revival of Canadian motorsport. Unlike Europe or the US, Canada doesn’t give a shit about racing on the whole. We’d rather pound some Tims back and watch the Leafs not make the playoffs year in and year out than watch some racing. Granted, this varies depending on where in this vast country you visit, but this is largely true.
The problem with this, is that there is ZERO support for racers in the country. There isn’t a culture that nurtures racers to allow their potential to grow and grow or even companies that sponsor them unless they are closely tied to the company. The consequence is that there aren’t many series in the country that compare to other’s around the globe. You go from Karting to Formula Vee (lol) to the expensive Formula 1600 to the ungodly expensive Formula 2000. Then you hit our country’s ceiling and you would either go to the states for the MRTI series or go to Europe and enter Formula 4 or Formula 3. These is the only real options for Canadians who wish to climb the open wheel ladder.
Unless you have a huge company or family wealth backing you, this is impossible. A friend of mine ran B-Spec in the Canadian Touring Car Championship (I was the team’s race engineer), which he did straight out of national level karting. Without really divulging costs, he and his family could have bought a brand new car with the money they spent on him for 4 race weekends (yup, 4, and we ran every race on the B-Spec calendar). Not only that, but we slept in the race trailer and cooked our own food every weekend (let’s be clear, that part was awesome, but I am trying to set a narrative) He didn’t get any sort of decent sleep in the months following, trying to come up with $100,000+ to run in PWC TCA class (the next step up, car wise) via corporate sponsorship and eventually didn’t. This was despite being on podium in every race that CTCC season. Surprised? Racing costs a shit load of money. A season of NASCAR Pinty Series (Canada’s NASCAR series) runs over a million dollars at minimum, and that is 13 races.
So what to do? You can do what I am doing with a group of friends, and that is run in Chumpcar or LeMons. It’s relatively cheap, fun and safe racing. Chumpcar Canada is expecting 40 or so cars this year at most races and the calendar is pretty good. No offense, but it’s nowhere near as glorious as the aforementioned series but at a sliver of the costs of running something like Formula 1600.
Circling back to Stroll now, he is the theoretical icon for the country now. No question that Hinchcliffe in Indy and others like Robert Wickens and Bruno Spengler in DTM or Kuno Wittmer in PWC have been very successful elsewhere in the motorsport world. However they get little to no coverage in Canada. Indycar gets coverage, yes, but it’s drowned in NASCAR coverage and far less prestigious than F1. Only real motorsport fans in Canada know what DTM even is. If the sport were to even grow in the country we need to have somebody like Jacques Villeneuve tearing it up in F1 (mind you, when he was at Williams). No doubt we wouldn’t have had an influx of talent like Hinchtown, Wickens or the Wittmer brothers (Kuno in PWC Sprint-X, Nick in PWC TC, Karl in CTCC and Kurt in the Canadian Super Production Challenge) or even Stroll.
We need more drivers making an impact in their series to garner more interest in racing in Canada so our drivers can succeed. Maybe we need something like the Mazda MX5 Cup with a manufacturer supporting a series that is relatively affordable and take driver’s under their wing and fling them around the world when they are ready. Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Canada exists, but it is not attainable for the vast majority of racers in Canada.
I seriously hope Stroll can be that kind of person for our country, but he’ll be laughed out of F1 at the end year if he keeps this up. Yes, he wasn’t really at fault for the last two races, but crashing twice in testing and then crashing in qualifying in Australia (which I bet was the ultimate cause for his retirement during the race) is a steep hill to climb to get my respect back and the other fans in Canada.
O Canada, I guess
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