Ferrari sign 11-year-old boy to their driving academy
Ferrari have made Lance Stroll, an 11-year-old Canadian, their youngest-ever recruit after signing him to their Driving Academy.
Stroll, from Montreal, has twice won the Canadian national championship in the Rotax Mini Max category and last year finished sixth in the World Finals at Lonato in the Mini Roc category and second in the Rotax Micro Max Florida Winter Tour.
The Federation Sport Automobile du Quebec nominated Stroll as ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 2008 and ‘Driver of the Year’ 12 months later.
Ferrari’s Luca Baldisserri, who runs the Driving Academy, said: “He is very young, but he has already shown in karting that he is exceptionally talented.”
The last Canadian to drive for Ferrari in F1 was the great Gilles Villeneuve who replaced Niki Lauda for Ferrari in 1977 from the Canadian Grand Prix after earlier impressing in a third McLaren at Silverstone.
Villeneuve went on to race 66 times for Ferrari, until a tragic fatal accident during qualifying for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder -it would have been his 68th race.
The move is similar to former McLaren boss Ron Dennis’ signing of Lewis Hamilton at the age of 13. Nine years later after winning the GP2 Series in 2006, Hamilton became a McLaren driver and won his first race in the 2007 season at the Canadian Grand Prix before going on to become the youngest world champion in 2008 aged just 23.
If Stroll’s development with Ferrari mirrors that of Hamilton through Formula Renault and GP2 or equivalent feeder series, he could be in F1 before the end of his teenage years, and who knows, perhaps even become the youngest world champion.
Ferrari’s announcement comes in the week Formula 1 returns to Montreal after a year away.