Home' Motorsport Monday USA : Issue 73 Contents So his latest burst of chat to
the Journal de Montréal was
no surprise when he revealed
that his son Lance will be in
Formula 1 next year. This was not
exactly a revelation, but a rather
confirmation of recent rumours,
although Stroll did not say the
deal was with Williams. The
newspaper was also sufficiently
diplomatic not to make much
of the fact that Stroll has paid
a fortune to get his son into F1.
This is not a crime and, to be fair,
the youngster has done well in
Formula 3, although some of the
other teams complain that Stroll
bought Prema Powerteam in order
to help his son and had Williams
F1 engineers working on the car.
While true, the son still had to
deliver the goods and he has done
that. Is he good enough for F1?
That is a different question, but
one supposes that Williams would
not take him simply for the money.
Stroll said there are two options
for 2017, and while one might
waste time and energy trying
to figure out the other, it is very
clear that Williams is the favourite.
Normally Williams does not let a
driver out in one of its cars unless
a contract is in place and given
that the team is not only testing
the youngster all over the world,
but also tweeting about his F3
successes, it’s a safe bet that
something is already on paper.
Despite rumours that Stroll
Snr. has bought a share in the
team, this is not true, at least
not yet. Williams, lest we forget,
is listed on the Deutsche Börse
in Frankfurt and any major
changes in shareholdings must
be announced immediately to
avoid share price manipulations
that might take place if such
information remained secret.
The latest registered ownership
details show Sir Frank Williams
holding a 52.5% share and 24%
of the business being publicly
traded. Then Brad Hollinger owns
10% and Patrick Head 9.3% while
the balance is owned by the
employees. So, while Stroll might
be providing the team with large
sums of money for this year’s
testing and next year’s racing, he
is currently not a shareholder.
Money is really not a problem.
Stroll has worked in the fashion
world since he was a youngster.
His father, Leo Strulovitch,
started out licensing Pierre Cardin
products in Canada in the 1970s
and then followed up with the
Polo Ralph Lauren brand. It was
through this that Stroll met Lauren
and acquired the rights to market
Ralph Lauren products in Europe,
through a company called Poloco
SA, in league with Hong Kong
apparel manufacturer Silas Chou.
This was a great success and the
pair went on to establish a private
equity business called Sportswear
Holdings Limited in Hong Kong
in 1989 to acquire and invest in
global lifestyle brands.
Their first acquisition was the
Tommy Hilfiger brand, although
this was soon followed by Pepe
Jeans. In 1992 they floated Hilfiger
and used some of the money
raised to sponsor Team Lotus in
Formula 1 with the Hilfiger and
Pepe Jeans brands. In the late
1990s Hilfiger became a sponsor
of Ferrari. Sportswear Holdings
would later acquire the British
jeweller Asprey & Garrard, which
was in difficulties. That deal came
about through the F1 connection
as Asprey was also a Ferrari
sponsor at the time.
After selling Hilfiger and Asprey,
Sportswear Holdings invested in
Michael Kors in 2003 and built the
business up for an IPO in 2011. In
2014 Stroll and Chou sold their
remaining shares in Michael Kors.
Stroll is reckoned to be worth
around $2.4 billion. He has talked
about getting involved in various
teams but has yet to do so. He’s a
Ferrari fan and raced in the Ferrari
Challenge in the United States and
has also bought and redeveloped
the Mont Tremblant racing circuit.
Today he has a large collection
of Ferraris, including a 1967
GTB/4 S NART Spider, which he
purchased at an auction in 2013
for $27.5 million. For the moment
his primary activity is getting his
son into F1. What happens next
remains to be seen...? He might
be a potential buyer for Force
India, but the price, while easily
manageable for him, is perhaps
more than he is willing to pay.
Group F1 Editor
24th October, 2016
Lawrence Stroll has always talked a lot. He’s a salesman and has
always done well for himself. Remarkably so...
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