Business F1 Top 20 Petrolheads: Lawrence Stroll, The Ultimate Petrolhead

  • 04 May 2024
  • 3 min read
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Business F1 Top 20 Petrolheads: Lawrence Stroll, The Ultimate Petrolhead image

Photo credit: Business F1

Lawrence Stroll not only possesses a savvy business brain, he is also a man who makes things happen. As a young man, he dreamed of becoming a racing driver, but he had neither the resources nor the opportunity to realize his dreams. He simply never knew just how good he could have been. Perhaps that is why he gave all support to his son Lance so that he could rise to prominence in Formula 1.

Lawrence Stroll made his fortune through a series of investments in the fashion industry. He first learned the fashion business from his father Leo Strulovitch, who ran the Pierre Cardin and Ralph Lauren brands in Canada. In 1989, at the age of 30, he parted ways with his father and joined forces with Hong Kong entrepreneur Silas Chou to form a joint venture called Sportswear Holdings Ltd with the goal of buying struggling fashion companies and turning them around.

Their first success was the purchase of Tommy Hilfiger, an up-and-coming American designer who was in desperate need of capital. Stroll and Chou backed him and grew Hilfiger from a $25 million American menswear company to a $2 billion global fashion conglomerate in just eight years. They cashed in and split a billion dollar profit according to Business F1 magazine.

Business F1 Top 20 Petrolheads: Lawrence Stroll, The Ultimate Petrolhead  - 1 Lawrence Stroll's entrepreneurial career began in 1989 in the world of fashion with great success.

In 2003, the two men bought the Michael Kors brand for $100 million. Eight years later the brand was worth $3.8 billion and the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The thought of Formula 1, however, had not left him. Stroll, back in the mid-1990s had supported the Lotus team and then played another ace by approaching Ferrari where he brought sponsors and became a dealer in Quebec. His passion for cars led him to buy some of the world's most important Ferraris such as the 250 GTO and the P4 that won at Daytona.

In order to drive them he went even further and bought the entire Canadian circuit of Mont Tremblant. Then came the moment that would change his life: His son Lance, born in 1998, became hooked on karting at a very young age. Lawrence still had close ties with Ferrari and decided to give him every support to bring him into the small group of champions. With the Prancing Horse's support, he built him a sophisticated kart simulator. He then guided him to a career that emphasized his talents.

Business F1 Top 20 Petrolheads: Lawrence Stroll, The Ultimate Petrolhead  - 2 Lawrence Stroll's name is now synonymous with luxury sports cars, Formula 1 and being a genuine petrolhead. He has now sold off his classic car collection to fund his Formula 1 and sports car manufacturing ambitions.

Lance Stroll was good, but was he good enough? In 2010 he joined the Ferrari Driver Academy. He made his motor racing debut in the 2014 Italian Formula 4 Championship and scored seven wins, thirteen podiums and five pole positions, winning the championship. In 2015, Lance won the New Zealand Toyota Racing series with 10 podiums and four wins from 16 starts. He participated in the European Formula 3 Championship winning one race and five podiums, enough for fifth place in the championship.

In 2016 he left Ferrari and obtained the role of test driver in the Williams F1 team. In the same year he dominated the European Formula 3 championship with 14 wins. The move to Formula 1 came in 2017, where he got a podium and a front-row start with Williams. But the 2018 season was a disaster and his father decided to become the “owner” himself of the team where Lance raced. Force India was for sale and Lawrance Stroll bought it. With the new name Racing Point and a rather stingy 2019 season of results for young Lance. Things changed in 2020: Two podiums, a pole position and 75 points for 11th place in the championship.

Business F1 Top 20 Petrolheads: Lawrence Stroll, The Ultimate Petrolhead  - 3 Lawrence Stroll with his son Lance Stroll who he nurtured into becoming a F1 driver and fulfilling his own long lost dreams.

The father, now reassured by his son's talent, took a new step: With the support of a string of investors, he bought the famous Aston Martin brand and established a program for the historic English manufacturer's green to return to the top of the Formula 1 World Championship. At Lance's side were two multiple world champions, Sebastian Vettel first and Fernando Alonso now. The leap was difficult, but from the 2023 season came satisfaction and podiums for Aston Martin. The purchase of the Aston Martin car company and Formula 1 team now fulfills all of Lawrence Stroll's ambitions.

To those who had thought that the sale of his magnificent collection of Ferraris was due to the need to bring money into the demanding Aston project, Lawrence replied that too many commitments no longer gave him the time to drive them and, above all, that as the number one of the British company, it would not be appropriate to be photographed driving Ferrari cars. Impeccable. Stroll and his consortium spent more than $400 million to buy and relaunch the company and the team. The construction of a brand-new 145,000-square-foot factory equipped with the most sophisticated technology underscores the Canadian manager's ambitions.

“Formula 1 is a powerful marketing tool for Aston Martin, making it more attractive to a broader audience and it allows you to touch more than two billion people over the course of a year with your brand”, Stroll said without adding that the investment in buying Force India and acquiring Aston Martin were very little compared to the team's value today: Over one billion dollars. And the son? He is there, alongside Alonso, and Lawrence still believes in him. Later on, as in all sports, results will do the talking.

Business F1 Top 20 Petrolheads: Lawrence Stroll, The Ultimate Petrolhead  - 4 Lawrence Stroll brought Aston Martin back into Formula One. Lawrence Stroll has found revitalizing the Aston Martin Lagonda company difficult and he might eventually sell it to the Chinese Geely company.