Newly signed to a development role with Williams, Stroll first caught our attention over five years ago when he was signed to Ferrari's young driver development program. He made headlines when he faced off against Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in a karting race – and beat one of them. He's since been climbing up the formula racing ladder under Maranello's patronage, winning the Italian Formula 4 Championship last year and competing in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship this season. There he formed part of a controversially unprofessional field that forced organizers to call off the race at Monza earlier this year. He also won the title in the Toyota Racing Series down in New Zealand this year.
His talents have evidently caught the eye of more than one F1 team. Of course it doesn't hurt that his father Lawrence is a billionaire fashion mogul based in Geneva with a penchant for collecting Ferraris. That 275 GTB/4 NART Spider that sold for a record $27.5 million a couple of years ago? That was the senior Stroll. He's also said to own a 250 GTO, putting him in rare company.
Lance Stroll isn't the only new test driver being picked up by a major team for next season. Mercedes has similarly signed the newly crowned GP3 champion Esteban Ocon alongside DTM champ Pascal Wehlein. And Force India has retained the services of Mexican driver Alfonso Celis, currently competing in GP3 and Formula Renault 3.5. The new crop of test drivers are expected to combine competition in other ladder championships while developing their skills with their new F1 employers. Stroll, for example, will continue competing in Formula 3 next season.
This year the development roll at Williams was filled by Alex Lynn, who won the GP3 title last season, has been winning races in GP2, previously tested for Lotus, and recently tried out the Porsche 919 Hybrid prototype. Lynn is expected to be bumped up to Williams' chief test driver following the departure of Susie Wolff, who is retiring from professional racing. If Stroll makes his way onto the F1 grid, he'll be the first Canadian in the series since Jacques Villeneuve retired in 2006. Meanwhile California native Alexander Rossi has been representing the United States since testing for Caterham and contesting several races for Manor this season.