top of page
  • Writer's pictureBen Waterworth

Chinese Grand Prix talking points: Stroll has become the most hated F1 driver in a long time - but that's simply an unfair call!

It’s been an interesting couple of days in the world of Formula 1 since the chequered flag fell on the Chinese Grand Prix last Sunday.


That means it’s a perfect time to bring you the latest edition of The Roar’s F1 talking points – let’s get to it.


Lance Stroll may (unfairly) be the most hated F1 driver of all time

Brace yourselves for this entry, because it’s time to not hold back.


Let’s first of all get to one point. Was Lance Stroll to blame for the crash behind the safety car during the Chinese Grand Prix? Yes. He was. Was he fairly punished for it? Yes. He was.

Okay, now that’s over and done with, let’s get to everything else surrounding it, and him.


The absolute vitriol against the Canadian that has come from the incident is beyond reprehensible. Not that it is to be unexpected given the amount of criticism he always receives. But this time around it’s hard to really fathom just how hard the media in particular have gone.


Labels against him in the last few days by major international news agencies have included “F1’s biggest villain”, “F1’s most scrutinised driver” and “the severely unpopular Lance Stroll”.


The question then has to be asked: find another F1 driver in the 74-year history of the sport who has faced this amount of negativity against them – because I guarantee you nobody ever has.


It’s absolutely ridiculous, unfounded and just plain wrong.


Based on the post-China coverage, you’d be forgiven to think that Stroll killed another driver. That Stroll destroyed the entire race. That Stroll killed a bunch of puppies and then stole their girlfriends.


Every driver has made a mistake. Some multiple mistakes.


Has Stroll made many? Yes. But so has Lewis Hamilton.


(Photo by Autosport)


So has Max Verstappen. Hell, so has Fernando Alonso, the man who was the root cause of the drama behind the safety car that led to Stroll crashing into Daniel Ricciardo, a fact that many people have ignored throughout this drama.


Another driver who made a key mistake on Sunday was Kevin Magnussen, who’s terrible and lazy attempt at an overtake took out Ricciardo’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda from the race, yet barely gets a mention in any of the post-race press due to the constant bashing and vitriol against Stroll.


Yes, Stroll wasn’t exactly apologetic for the incident. But name me one driver who is in the heat of a battle, or even after the race itself.


Shall we go back to Britain in 2021 when Lewis Hamilton put Max Verstappen in the wall and didn’t remotely take the blame for the incident?


Or even as recently as Australia a month ago where Fernando Alonso barely uttered anything in the form of remorse when it came to the incident that saw George Russell crash out of the race in Melbourne.


I could go on, but there simply isn’t enough space here to list them all.


Okay, Stroll isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Okay, his dad owns the team he races for.


As I have constantly pointed out throughout my constant defence of him in my many years writing here on The Roar, there is far more to his presence on the grid than simply daddy owning his F1 team.


If we were to analyse every driver on the grid based on the daddy’s involvement in their son’s F1 career and status in the sport, then we may have to add similar scrutiny to the likes of Carlos Sainz and in particular Lando Norris.


Yes, you can criticise a driver for a mistake. That is the role of the media. But let’s take a step back and fairly criticise everyone on the grid based on the mistake they make, not simply based on their surname and likeability factor.


China’s welcome F1 return

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised as to how excited I was to see China return to the F1 calendar.


A somewhat meh addition to the sport in 2004, it was never a circuit that seemingly screamed excitement in the paddock over the last 20 years.


However, something just felt different this time around.


Maybe it was the fact we had a Chinese driver for the first ever time, or maybe it felt like a bit of an ‘old school’ return given the new bevy of street circuits we are flooded with every couple of years now in modern F1.


(Photo by Formula 1)


Whatever it was, it felt great to be back in Shanghai – and while the race itself won’t go down as a classic, it was still entertaining enough to bring a smile to most F1 fans’ faces.


Let’s hope we won’t have to go that long ever again without the Chinese Grand Prix.


The points system doesn’t need changing

Why? …


That’s the question that I and every single F1 fan find themselves asking when it comes to the proposal to extend the points places down to 12th place.


What on earth would it achieve? A couple of extra teams scoring points each weekend? Okay. Cool.


So now Alpine, RB, Williams, Haas and Kick Sauber can leave with one or two points by finishing in the same places they already do and moving up in the Championship.


Are we not forgetting that already happens by finishing 11th, given that if you are equal on points and yet have more 11th or 12th place finishes than those below you, you finish higher in the Championship?


It also then takes away from the fight for points, with teams being rewarded for further mediocrity by simply finishing so low.


Where then do you draw the line? Will it be another five years until we start awarding points down to 15th or 18th? Hell, let’s just give everyone a point for showing up, why not?


F1 has an affinity for changing their points systems, with a varying degree of success. Those as old as me remember the glory days of the top six and how much it meant to get one solitary point.


Then in 2003, we had the top eight, then the current top ten from 2010 onwards.


A bonus point for the fastest lap was then introduced, and then the double points finale experiment went down as well as a lead balloon in 2014. Most have worked, and many have failed.


Sadly, I feel this new idea will fall in the latter camp. Let’s leave it how it is, shall we?


Please Stefano, no more sprint races

While the talk over an increase in points positions intensifies, so does the prospect of more sprint races being introduced into the sport.


During an interview on Sky F1 on the weekend, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali answered, “Why not?” when asked if there could be more sprint races introduced in the future, adding it would be a point of discussion later in the season.


The big question though has to be why?


It’s a gimmicky format that really has added nothing of value to the sport, except give a few extra points at random intervals during the season and allow drivers the opportunity to wreck their cars even more frequently in a race that really nobody enjoys doing.


Sure it adds a bit of excitement for the fans who attend the race, but true fans know to appreciate all aspects of the sport which include practice and qualifying, not just the racing element that should be kept sacred to the Sunday.


Hopefully, the conversation can soon turn to scrapping them altogether rather than adding even more to the calendar.


Ricciardo on the up

While certain circumstances obviously prevented him from scoring points on Sunday, Daniel Ricciardo definitely came away from the weekend (mostly) with a smile on his face.


Okay, there were a few swear words actually on Sunday but outside of that incident with Stroll, he by far had a very promising weekend that should give him the confidence moving forward to really showcase what he is capable of.


(Photo by Formula 1)


He routinely outpaced teammate Yuki Tsunoda for the first time in 2024 and looked the most comfortable he has in the team since his stunning weekend in Mexico last year.


Was it the new chassis that he received for the weekend? Was it the circuit, a place that he has often done very well at? Or was it a combination of things that has finally seen him turn a corner?


Let’s hope for his sake it’s all of the above and more as he fights to keep his spot on the grid.


This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here

Commentaires


bottom of page