Stoffel Vandoorne eyes Formula One drive after snatching GP2 title


Stoffel Vandoorne was crowned 2015 GP2 Series Champion at Sochi after his fourth place finish in Sunday’s Sprint Race was enough for the ART Grand Prix driver and McLaren Honda protégé to finally clinch the title ahead of nearest rival, Alexander Rossi. A total of 277.5 points was enough for Vandoorne to leave the Sochi Autodrom as champion, with two rounds left on the eleven round calendar in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

We knew before coming here that [winning the title] was our target. We could have done it on Saturday, but things did not go 100% our way,” said the twenty three-year-old from Kortrijk, Belgium.

Crossing the line in fourth ahead of Alexander Rossi was enough to do it and that’s what counts in the end. The job is done and now I have two weekends left in the season: I will be relaxed and have no pressure. I will push really hard for a couple more victories and finish the season on a high.

To be crowned with two rounds to spare, it shows all the work we’ve done this season and how good it’s been together with ART. We’ve achieved great things over the past two years, we’ve broke nearly all the records this season. It’s one that I will definitely remember forever.

In a season of complete dominance, Vandoorne has so far taken a total of four pole positions, five incredible wins and a total of 13 podiums despite the incredible competitiveness of his fellow drivers.

The title could have been snatched up during Sochi’s Saturday Feature Race but when Rossi took his second victory of the season and the Belgian ended his day in third, Vandoorne had to wait just one more night to claim his well-deserved title with the help of the ART Grand Prix team.

I had a good start on Sunday. I gained a position, but then I had to take the exit road at Turn 2 because everybody was bunched up a bit.

It was quite a good race, but not an easy one as overtaking was pretty difficult. We definitely had a really good pace compared to the others: I could follow them quite easily, but to overtake them was hard. I think that without the safety car in the end, I could have overtaken Raffaele Marciello, but the race finished under safety car and I had to settle for fourth. It would have been nice to finish on the podium, obviously, but we can’t really complain.

As GP2 Series Champion, Vandoorne will no longer be able to compete in the series once the year is out and is already thinking about his possibilities for the future, and although McLaren Honda seemingly have their 2016 line-up sorted, Formula One is always on the mind of this young racer. “…It’s something I’ve been working on for quite some time, and now to have the GP2 title here is a bit of a luxury I would say with two rounds to go.”

In the two seasons he has spent racing against some of the world’s greatest young drivers, victory has come to him at circuits such as Italy, Monaco and his home Grand Prix in Belgium but with very few seats still available for the 2016 season, it is difficult to see where Vandoorne could in fact end up should he indeed race in Formula One next year.

The next race is in over a month, so I can concentrate on preparing next year which is great. Unfortunately, nothing is decided for the moment, but I’m optimistic. I feel there are some chances out there. The next days and weeks are going to be crucial for next year.”