A rumor floated around the paddock this weekend in Montreal that Williams has tried to shop their young #1 driver to other teams. The thought behind the move would be to move Stroll into a more competitive car like say, a Toro Rosso while allowing Williams to move reserve driver Robert Kubica into the race seat. This move would make sense on a number of levels for all parties involved.
It would allow the struggling outfit to farm out their “#1 driver ” to a more competitive car in relative terms. It will also allow them to put Robert Kubica in the car for the remainder of the season. Kubica has been quicker than both Williams race drivers in nearly every test/practice session this season. Not only can he get more out of the car but he can give the team a benchmark to work off of. Not to mention he has helped develop cars in the past and his input would likely be better than the current two drivers. That’s not a knock on them, Kubica just has vastly more experience.
Also, Williams already has the budget from Stroll’s family for the season. While Lawrence Stroll would continue to pay Williams the agreed upon amount Lance would bring to the team. Williams in return would allow Lance to race in a more competitive car while still under contract with the team. Like when a baseball team kicks someone to the curb, say, Brandon Phillips, the Reds continue to pay him not to play in Cincinnati and play in Atlanta. Of course, he was so bad there they didn’t want him either but you get the point.
For Toro Rosso:
Toro Rosso is obviously not thrilled with the performance of Brendon Hartley so far this season. Like anyone that gets back with their ex you have that moment of clarity a couple months into the second round where you’re like “ohh that’s why we stopped doing this.” And Helmut Marko is having that revelation in real time.
So why not drop Harley for Stroll? Stroll would come to the team for free on loan from Williams. No salary to be paid would give the Toro Rosso team a small bump, not that Hartley is getting paid handsomely but it’s better than what a BK Racing driver gets paid. It also allows Toro Rosso to measure their car a little more. Is Stroll a better driver than Hartley? It’s a toss up but why not see what someone else can do in the car?
For Lance Stroll:
Lance would have the opportunity to get into a more competitive car than what he is currently in. Toro Rosso finished 4th in Bahrain this year. The Honda powerplant has proven to be more reliable than previous iterations of itself. Instead of fighting Sergey Sirotkin for 19th, why not fight in the midpack? It also gives Stroll a chance to show what talent he has in a more competitive car. It may also be the only way for him to prove to other teams he has what it takes to be in F1.
This is a wild rumor that likely won’t happen. In theory, though it makes complete and perfect sense. It’s a peak F1 rumor as well, a lot of moving parts, money, and hurt feelings. Most of the time the off-track drama is better than the on-track drama in F1.