Connect with us


Canadian Teen Lance Stroll Has Eye on the F1 Fast Lane



It turns out you can go very fast and not be in a hurry.

Although he’s been groomed for auto racing’s glitziest circuit since he was too small to tickle an accelerator, 17-year-old Lance Stroll understands some things can’t be rushed.

The Montreal native, who famously signed for the Ferrari racing development team as an 11-year-old go-karting savant, is in his second season in Formula 3 – a European feeder series he currently leads.

“I’m loving what I do right now… it’s important to complete every step properly and not take any shortcuts. You see so many drivers who go into F1 too soon, make mistakes. And you really only have one shot in Formula One. As soon as you don’t perform, there’s someone coming behind you to take your place,” he told a small group of reporters gathered around an ornate board table at Old Montreal’s très swish Hotel Le St-James.

It might seem unusual for a teenager to confidently hold court in a vaguely baroque, tall-ceilinged room plainly designed for the well-heeled and high-powered – sober oak panelling, overstuffed leather chairs, marble statuary of bulls and the usual fanged and clawed creatures.

Know this: Stroll is accustomed to opulence.

His father Lawrence made billions in the fashion business – his fortune has funded one of the world’s largest Ferrari collections, the family also owns the Mont-Tremblant racing circuit – and the younger Stroll relocated to Geneva six years ago to focus on his racing career (“It’s a very calm place,” he observed, dryly).

This bit of context matters when you consider an established and up-ticking trend in F1 colloquially known as “the pay driver.”

It’s not a new phenomenon, but it is increasingly common.

This season, for example, it’s claimed the backers of Indonesian rookie Rio Haryanto plunked down $15-million to secure a ride with Manor Racing – England’s Daily Mail reported that was the amount required to outbid Briton Will Stevens, another racer with means.

In an interview with Forbes magazine in late 2015, Mercedes-Benz racing chief Toto Wolff did a back-of-a-napkin tally of what it costs for a driver just to get to F1: $10-million.

As Wolff observed: “You need to have a sugar daddy or a rich daddy.”

Strict meritocracy it ain’t, which displeases many in the sport.

Stroll sees the purists sneering; he feels their gaze. And mostly he agrees with them.

“It’s a bit ridiculous that a sport should be the way F1 is, where you should have to put in so much money to get to the top. I think it should be the opposite. You need to put in a certain amount like any sport – if you play tennis you need to buy a racket – but to pay to drive for a team, that’s wrong,” he said, adding, “It’s also the world we live in.”

Stroll doesn’t feel so strongly about the issue that he’s willing to walk away from his lifelong dream in protest (he did, however, recently switch to a more demanding high-school correspondence curriculum that will qualify him for top universities – “There’s more to life than racing”).

It does inform his approach to the big time.

His family has the resources to get him there, maybe as early as next year. Knowing the price of something is not the same thing as understanding its value, and Stroll aspires to more than just status.

“[Wealth] doesn’t change the fact I’m putting a lot of hours in the gym, I’m putting in a lot of effort. You do see some drivers in the paddock who have a tremendous amount of money and don’t do [squat]. I don’t want to be that guy. I love what I do, I’m a competitive guy,” he said. “I could take the opportunity to be in last, pay for my seat and be nowhere. But that’s not what I want to be. I want to win championships; I want to be a winning driver.”

That desire to win has occasionally gotten him into trouble – last year, his first in open-wheel road cars, he was criticized by his fellow drivers for causing an accident in Monza, Italy, with a risky manoeuvre. He earned a one-race ban for his trouble.

Since then Stroll, who likes to emulate McLaren driver Fernando Alonso’s measured aggressiveness and adaptive style, has evolved into a dominant player in Formula 3. “I think my strength is I’m able to think in the car, not just rely on instinct.”

The lanky, dark-haired Montrealer will cross paths with at least one countryman in the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve garages this weekend.

Nicholas Latifi, a 20-year-old from Toronto, is a test driver for Renault when he isn’t racing in GP2, another feeder circuit and the logical step up from Formula 3.

It’s a good bet both will soon join F1 on a more formal basis, which would break a decade-long drought; no Canadian driver has captured a full-time F1 ride since former world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

Five years ago, it looked as though Robert Wickens would earn the distinction. The Ontario-born racer was a reserve driver for Marussia Virgin Racing (now known as Manor), and later tested for Lotus.

The 27-year-old Wickens now drives for the Mercedes-affiliated team in the closed-wheel Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters series (or DTM), and despite excellent results (he leads the driver championship) is on the outside looking in, partly because he isn’t able to self-finance a spot in F1.

That’s not an issue for Stroll.

Nor is it a problem for Latifi, whose father is chairman and CEO of Sofina Foods Inc., a privately-held food industry giant that is second in size only to Maple Leaf Foods.

It helps that both young men are plainly talented drivers.

On its own, that’s no longer enough.

Happily for Canadian racing fans, the differentiating factor in modern formula racing presents no significant obstacles to a unique spectacle: two drivers from these shores facing off in the world’s premier racing circuit.

Read More..

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Up and Coming Sports Stars to Look Out for in 2020



Every year, a raft of exciting new players come onto the scene across all of the major US sports. With the MLS season getting underway and the NFL and MLB drafts not too far away, now is a great time to look at the young sports stars that could have a very bright future ahead of them, and the ones that are already proving they are destined for greatness.

Theo Bair (MLS)

This MLS season is looking like it could be one of the best yet, with David Beckham’s Inter Miami team adding some extra dazzle to the league. Whilst Beckham might be able to attract a lot of new players to his MLS team, there are a lot of young stars on their way through such as Theo Bair at Vancouver Whitecaps. Bair has already made an impact on the first team and after impressing at under-20 and under-23 level for the national team, he has made two appearances for the senior team, well before his 21st birthday. This year could see Bair make a real name for himself in the MLS.

Source: Pixabay

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (MLB)

Montreal-born Vladimir Guerrero Jr has one MLB season under his belt but it looks like the best is still yet to come from him at the Blue Jays. He was heavily backed to take the league by storm but he failed to live up to the hype that surrounded him. Without the pressure of being the top-ranked prospect, this season could see Guerrero play with some weight lifted off his shoulders. He has been working very hard on his fitness over the offseason, something that his manager Montoyo has been quick to comment upon.

Baseball by andrewmalone, on Flickr

Baseball” (CC BY 2.0) by andrewmalone

Connor McDavid (NHL)

McDavid has already established him as a top hockey player but at 23, he has the potential to go on to do so much more. The player was born in Ontario and was the first overall draft pick, showing how much expectation was already on him at that stage but he has gone on to prove that he is one of the best players in the NHL. McDavid could go on to be one the NHL’s best-ever hockey players and this season could be the year that he shows the world, not just the NHL.

Chuba Hubbard (College Football)

The Oklahoma State Cowboys running back has been making the headlines for several years now. He continues to improve and grab more attention for his impressive stats and performances. He was close to being a sprinter and nearly made the Canadian Olympic team before switching over to football. He is passing up the 2020 NFL draft to play his senior season at Cowboys. He should give them a good chance of winning the College Football Championship, though they’re trailing at the seventh spot in the latest American football odds at +2400.00, with Clemson as the current betting favorites.

2020 will definitely be a very exciting time with some of these young stars looking to breakthrough in their respective sports and show the world what they are capable of.

Continue Reading


Bob Baffert is back at the Kentucky Derby – and looking to break the Curse of Apollo



Bob Baffert is back at the Kentucky Derby with early favourite Justify after watching the race from his sofa in Southern California last year.

The Hall of Fame trainer’s ability to produce Derby contenders year after year is an enviable feat and why his absence a year ago stood out. It was just his second since 2009 and occurred because his lone candidate got hurt.

Baffert will saddle Justify and 30-to-1 shot Solomini in Saturday’s Derby.

Justify is one of the greenest colts Baffert has brought to Churchill Downs. He’s won all three of his starts by a combined 19 lengths. If Justify wins, he’d be the first to do so since Apollo in 1882 without racing as a two-year-old.

“The thing about the Kentucky Derby, you have to have the right horse. It just happens. You can’t force it,” Baffert said. “All of a sudden, you have good horses and you’re there. So I’ve been really fortunate to have some really good horses.”

Baffert’s four victories are tied for second-most in Derby history. He’s finished second three times, too, including in 2012 with Bodemeister, also the last time he had two starters in the same year.

Like Justify, Bodemeister didn’t race as a two-year-old. He set a blistering pace and led the Derby until the final 150 yards when I’ll Have Another overtook him to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Magnum Moon, the 6-to-1 third choice, also is unbeaten and didn’t run as a two-year-old.

“It’s going to happen,” Baffert said, referring to the curse being broken. “Whether it happens this year or whatever, but it will happen because Bodemeister almost got away with it. But I don’t really worry about that.”

Baffert almost had a third starter this year until McKinzie developed a hind-end issue that knocked him off the Derby trail.

“When McKinzie got hurt, I wanted to throw up,” he said. “I really think McKinzie would probably be second choice here. We’d really have a 1-2 here.”

Justify cleared the biggest pre-Derby hurdle by drawing the No. 7 post. Jockey Mike Smith can use the colt’s early speed to position him well for the long run to the chaotic first turn. Solomini ended up in the No. 17 post; no horse has ever won from there.

Baffert turned 65 in January, making him eligible for Medicare and retirement at most other jobs. However, he entertains no such thoughts.

“I work hard at it. I just don’t give up,” the white-haired trainer said. “I’m constantly meeting people. They’re sending me horses. If you don’t have success, you’re not going to get those opportunities.”

After a successful run in the quarter horse ranks, Baffert switched to thoroughbreds. He started with one horse.

“After 25 years, I’m finally getting horses that I don’t have to buy,” he said. “The big guys are sending me horses.”

None was bigger than American Pharoah in 2015. The colt swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

Baffert has compared Justify to American Pharoah, citing the colt’s imposing physical presence and big stride. Still, Justify has yet to encounter the kind of traffic the Derby’s 20-horse stampede creates and the talent as he’ll run against on Saturday.

“I’d rather have a really talented horse than one who’s seasoned and just on par with the rest of them,” Baffert said.

Early on, Baffert knew Justify had the goods.

“The first time I worked him at Santa Anita, I knew he was a really good horse,” he said. “The track was really deep that morning, and he went around there effortlessly. His first race, he ran incredibly and showed how special he was.”

That kind of intuition is what separates Baffert from his rivals, fellow Hall of Famer trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.

“Bob’s got a great feel for it,” he said.

Read more…

Continue Reading


Matthews ready to return to Maple Leafs lineup after missing a month



NASHVILLE — The hurtin’ tune that Auston Matthews has been singing for the past four weeks finally can be put in the remainder bin in Music City.

The Maple Leafs’ top centre on Wednesday declared himself set to return to the lineup after recovering from a right shoulder injury.

Wonderful timing, of course, considering the Leafs will take on the No. 1 club in the National Hockey League, the Nashville Predators, on Thursday night.

“In my mind, I think I’m ready to go and taking it as I’m getting ready to play (Thursday),” Matthews said after resuming his normal role, between William Nylander and Zach Hyman, during practice at Bridgestone Arena.

“It felt good, nice to get in all the reps and everything. (Wednesday) was a good step forward in that process, going through the line rushes.”

It seemed probable that the Leafs also will have defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, who missed the past five games as he recovered from an illness, against Nashville. Zaitsev was paired with Jake Gardiner, his regular partner, at practice.

For Matthews, it has been 10 games as a spectator with his latest injury, his third of the 2017-18 regular season after he missed four games in November with a back issue and then sat for six in December because of a concussion.

Thursday will mark four weeks since Matthews was hurt when he was sandwiched by the New York Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck and Adam Pelech in a game at the Air Canada Centre.

A major bonus for Matthews in his recovery has been the fact he has been able to skate though much of his recuperation. That was not the case when he was out with his previous two injuries.

It’s worth noting that Matthews scored two goals versus the Montreal Canadiens upon returning on Nov. 18 from his back injury; in his first two games upon coming back from a concussion, he scored a goal in each.

Mike Babcock said a final decision on the participation of Matthews and Zaitsev against the Predators would be made on Thursday morning, but the Leafs coach was talking as though it would be a rubber stamp.

“This is going to be the best opportunity for (Matthews) because he has been able to skate and compete,” Babcock said. “The other times he was not able to do anything.

“To get him back … it’s still going to be going way faster than he has been practising, so there is going to be an adjustment period, but he’s a good player and he will figure it out.”

Defenceman Morgan Rielly didn’t think Matthews will take long to find his footing. Rielly missed six games in late January/early February with an arm injury, so knows what Matthews could be feeling.

“You’re nervous and you just want to get back into it,” Rielly said. “You play your first shift a bit hesitant, but after that it’s important you get back to yourself.

“It’s never easy, but Auston is one of those guys that I will imagine it won’t take long for him to get back into a rhythm.”

And there’s the trickle-down effect through the forward lines with Matthews in uniform.

“Guys are used to playing with certain players and when everyone is healthy, I think you get better chemistry throughout the entire lineup,” centre Nazem Kadri said. “Certain guys don’t have to play with different guys constantly and it’s just more of a set group, so I think it’s going to help us.”

Continue Reading