GROVE, England (Reuters) - Canadian teenager Lance Stroll will make his Formula One race debut with former champions Williams next season, the team announced on Thursday.
Montreal-born Stroll, who celebrated his 18th birthday on Oct. 29, will be the first Canadian to race in the sport since 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who won his title at Williams and retired in 2006.
The son of fashion billionaire Lawrence, who made a fortune from the Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors fashion brands, Stroll will partner experienced Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas at the Mercedes-powered team.
He replaces Brazilian Felipe Massa, who had already announced his retirement from Formula One.
Stroll will be the youngest driver on the starting grid next season, but not the youngest ever to start a race -- that accolade belongs to Red Bull's Max Verstappen who was 17 years and 166 days old when he made his debut for Toro Rosso at the Australian grand prix 2015.
The rules have been changed since then, with 18 set as the minimum age and a points-based super licence system introduced. Stroll secured his after winning this year's European F3 championship.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Mitch Phillips)