Stoffel Vandoorne has revealed that he isn’t just looking at McLaren for a potential race seat next year, despite being heavily tipped to replace Jenson Button.
The GP2 champion is currently the reserve driver for McLaren and has already made his debut with the Honda-powered team. The reserve driver role in any team is usually also the hot seat at the end of the young driver conveyor belt. The reserve gets the chance to highlight themselves for a few Practice sessions, observe team debriefs, shadow procedures and learn everything.
— Stoffel Vandoorne (@svandoorne) July 13, 2016
But Alonso’s bad luck at the start of the year in Australia was Vandoorne’s gain. Alonso’s injuries following the gravel trap pirouettes at Albert Park saw the reserve get his chance.
Not only did Vandoorne’s debut race go by without error, but also saw the young Belgian pick up the team’s first point of the year. His drive to 10th was ironically achieved at the cost of Jenson Button’s engine failing from 7th in the other McLaren. But Vandoorne probably exceeded expectation.
— Stoffel Vandoorne (@svandoorne) April 3, 2016
Button is still being linked with a book-end seat at Williams, to finish in 2017 where he started in 2000. That leaves Vandoorne with a chance for promotion – if it happens. Speaking during the in-season tests at Silverstone, Vandoorne said,
“The main goal is to be in Formula 1 next year. That hasn’t changed.
Obviously, I am contracted to McLaren and I really want to be with this team next year, I’ve spent a lot of time here with the engineers and I feel like we’ve really been through the perfect preparation.
I would love to race for this team, but I’ve always said – if for some reasons, which I don’t know, it doesn’t become possible, then I’m positive that there are other options available.”
– Stoffel Vandoorne
A move to Renault is possible should Button stay with McLaren for another year, but it would be a half-step if the Belgian went there. Surely he’d rather stay at McLaren?