For the next few weeks, as we await the return of racing, Motorsport Week is delving into the archives to search out the first time that our grid of 2020 F1 racers stepped into top-level machinery in a public forum.
Lawrence Stroll’s passion for motorsport is well-known and the Canadian billionaire has been in and around the scene for decades, most recently and prominently through his ownership of Racing Point.
His son, Lance, quickly picked up a path towards Formula 1 during his school days and there are various images online of the youngster, then heading towards his teens, perched on Ferrari machinery after joining its driver academy.
But after Stroll’s controversial first year in Formula 3 – in which he was culpable for a handful of high-profile incidents – he departed Ferrari’s scheme and instead aligned himself with Williams.
Stroll cantered to the 2016 Formula 3 title and as the year developed it was clear he was being prepared for his Formula 1 bow the following campaign.
A heavily-funded sequence of private test runs in Williams’ 2014 car, alongside Paul di Resta, was organised at various circuits around the world in order to train the then 17-year-old.
After turning 18, at the end of October, Stroll was confirmed for a 2017 race seat alongside Valtteri Bottas – though Felipe Massa wound up ‘unretiring’ after the Finn replaced Nico Rosberg.
Stroll’s actual first public appearance in Formula 1 machinery therefore didn’t come until the opening test of the 2017 season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
It didn’t begin brilliantly as Stroll threw Williams’ FW40 off the road on the second test day – but by mid-season he was standing on the podium at the conclusion of Baku’s crazy race.