The Rookie at Mclaren – Vandoorne: “I Don’t want to be Hamilton”

Ryan Ashenhurst
Ryan Ashenhurst
Ryan Ashenhurst
Contributor

When Lewis Hamilton joined McLaren as a rookie , he shook the Formula One paddock and his very experienced Spanish teammate. Now, Vandoorne finds himself in a pre-season identity crisis as he is compared to the greats before turning a wheel in 2017.

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team McLaren MP4-31 Honda RA616H Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 2, 2016 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
MONZA, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team McLaren MP4-31 Honda RA616H Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 2, 2016 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Fernando Alonso has already made it clear that he doesn’t see Vandoorne as a threat and his reacted in a way that suggests working together will be more beneficial given the team’s expected targets for next season. When Lewis Hamilton was fighting Alonso, race wins and a possible driver title was at stake. In 2017, podiums will surely be the pre-testing target as the team look to do better than their midfield finish in 2016.

On the comparison to Lewis Hamilton, Vandoorne said,

“I do not want to be Hamilton. I want to be Vandoorne and I’ll give my maximum. I do not expect anything from the relationship between Fernando and I

I didn’t exactly get advice from Fernando and (Jenson) Button until now, but I was always close to them at the circuit, watching and trying to learn. But I have my own style.”

– Stoffel Vandoorne

Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States of America. Friday 23 October 2015. Stoffel Vandoorne, Test and Reserve Driver, McLaren. World Copyright: Steven Tee/LAT Photographic.
Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States of America.
Friday 23 October 2015.
Stoffel Vandoorne, Test and Reserve Driver, McLaren. World Copyright: Steven Tee/LAT Photographic.

Vandoorne did score McLaren’s first point of 2016 when standing in for a shaken Fernando Alonso in Bahrain. The pressure of expectation from outside the team will be felt by the Belgian driver, but the expectation of the team as a whole will be under the microscope much more.

Given McLaren’s slightly knee-jerk scapegoating in recent seasons with Kevin Magnussen and particularly Sergio Perez, Vandoorne will be hoping he can make a better impression as the team look to improve.

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