Monza equals good memories for Stroll, but will it be a swansong?

Lance Stroll heads to Monza hoping to build on his success in last year’s Italian Grand Prix, but will it be the Canadian’s final performance behind the wheel of a Williams?

Discussions and negotiations are in full swing behind the scenes of Formula 1 as several teams contemplate potential in-season driver changes if Stroll’s anticipated move to Force India comes to pass.

The 19-year-old was spotted at the Silverstone-based team’s factory on Wednesday, likely for a seat fitting although the team refused to confirm the reason for the driver’s presence.

Regardless of what the short-term future may hold, Stroll will be racing with Williams this weekend at a venue that brought him a memorable performance in 2017.

“Last year Monza was a big turning point in my career,” recalled the Canadian racer. “It really impacted on it.

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Although Stroll had already clinched a podium position in Baku earlier in the season, last year’s visit to Monza saw him qualify on the front row of the grid for the very first time in his rookie season.

“I have incredible memories of my front-row start,” he said. “I will remember it forever. Qualifying was crazy in the rain, but I took to it like a fish to water!”

Small wonder then that Stroll is so excited to be heading back there this week.

“I am really looking forward to getting back there,” he said. “The atmosphere there is incredible and the passion of the tifosi is amazing. You can’t ignore the history of the place and the importance of Ferrari.”

For team mate Sergey Sirotkin, this will be his first time at Monza in a Formula 1 car. But the young Russian has plenty of experience around the circuit in other hardware.

“I have very good memories racing at Monza,” he said. “I raced there a lot in my junior categories.

“I like the spirit of the track and the challenges that the high-speed, low-downforce corners create for the drivers.

“The track will throw some challenges at the car which will be nice to evaluate. It’s the last European race so we will have to enjoy it as much as we can.”

However, it doesn’t look like the power-intensive nature of the track will do anything to help the team break out of its current depression.

“The circuit is one of the fastest of the year,” admitted chief technical officer Paddy Lowe. “But despite the high-speed sections, it still has some challenging corners with big braking events to manage.

“We look forward to ending the European section of the calendar there before heading into the final flyaway races of the year.”

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