Lance Stroll says he is now a "completely different driver"

Williams driver Lance Stroll believes he is now a "completely different driver" compared to his first race in Formula 1 at the start of 2017

The Canadian, who graduated to F1 after winning the 2016 Formula 3 European championship, had a tough start with three successive retirements and drew criticism - in particular from Jacques Villeneuve.

But Stroll turned things around with his first points in round seven in Canada, followed by third at the next race in Azerbaijan. He ended the year with 40 points, just three adrift of team-mate Felipe Massa.

"I think over the course of the year I've changed dramatically as a driver," said Stroll. "I've learned a tremendous amount.

"I've gained a lot of experience competing at the highest level in the world with the best drivers in the world.

"You experience all different kinds of emotions, you face adversity and I've experienced standing on a podium and starting on the front row [at the Italian Grand Prix].

"It's taught me so much about being a racing driver, and travelling the world and racing all these different tracks and against the best drivers in the world."

Stroll tested a 2014 Williams extensively ahead of his debut season, and admitted that the step up to F1 was the greatest he had faced in his career.

"I really had to learn and adapt more than ever before because there is so much to do in F1, so much to be on top of as a driver.

"It really requires perfection just to walk out of a weekend with a decent result. That's why it's called Formula 1.

"But I definitely feel like compared to where I was in Melbourne 2017, I'm a completely different driver."

Lowe believes Daytona will help prepare Stroll

Stroll is one of two current F1 race drivers - Fernando Alonso the other - who is currently in the United States ahead of his maiden attempt at the Daytona 24 Hours.

Sharing one of Jackie Chan DC Racing Jota's ORECA 07 prototypes with Dani Juncadella, Felix Rosenqvist and Robin Frijns, Stroll qualified sixth.

Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe believes the endurance race will act as good preparation for the coming F1 campaign.

"It is great to see Lance is doing Daytona this weekend, and the team will all be watching to support him," said Lowe.

"Taking the opportunity to race in another series will be good preparation for the Formula 1 season ahead.

"We are also looking forward to getting 2018 officially underway and working with Lance to continue the positive progress he made throughout last season."

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