BARCELONA, Spain â€” Canadian rookie Lance Stroll is off to a rocky start in Formula One pre-season testing.
The Mont-Tremblant, Que., native went off the track in the morning session and then crashed into a wall in the afternoon at the Catalunya track on Wednesday. That made three straight sessions with mishaps for the 18-year old, who was signed by the British team after winning the European F3 championship last year.
In the latest incident, Stroll lost it during a warm-up lap at the end of a straightaway and crashed into a barrier. Unlike the first two, that one left heavy damage on the car.
It happened while running on intermediate tires, which his teammate Felipe Massa had warned of this week, saying he had little feeling on the track with them and that he had much better grip on soft tires.
Stroll chose not to comment because the team was still trying to sort out what went wrong.
“There was a small incident at the end of the day,” said Stroll. “I was kind of a victim of something that happened with the car. I can’t get into details about it, but there wasn’t much to do about it.”
In the morning run, he appeared to lose control of his Williams car on turn 3 and ended up in the sand beside the track.
“I tried to push the limits of the car and unfortunately, I locked the brakes a little too much,” he said. “But there wasn’t any damage to the car.”
The day before, Stroll saw his day ended after 12 laps from a spinout on turn 9 that left him with a damaged front wing.
Despite the troubles, Stroll managed to get in 97 laps with a best lap of one minutes 22.351 seconds. That placed him seventh among the 13 drivers who tested. He got in some race simulation work, including pit stops for tire changes.
Stroll is scheduled to drive in the afternoon session on Thursday.
The times put in by top drivers suggest that this year’s F1 cars will be very fast.
Former Williams driver Valtteri Bottas had the quickest lap for Mercedes in 1:19.705. Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari was second, 0.247 seconds behind and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was third at 1.446 seconds back.
Bottas’ lap time was more than two seconds quicker than the 1:22.00 Lewis Hamilton posted while winning pole position on the same track at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The F1 season opens March 26 in Australia. Stroll is set to make his Canadian Grand Prix debut on June 11.
Alexandre Geoffrion-McInnis, The Canadian Press