Vandoorne confirms 2016 McLaren reserve driver role


2015 GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne has confirmed he will return to the role of test and reserve driver for the McLaren-Honda team in 2016, but is aiming to be racing ‘something’ alongside his duties with the Woking team.

The Belgian driver resumes his duties at McLaren that he had in 2014, having stepped down behind Kevin Magnussen for 2015 after the team replaced the Dane with Fernando Alonso in the race team alongside Jenson Button.

“I definitely want to race something next year, but what it will be we don’t know yet,” revealed Vandoorne to McLaren.com. “There’s definitely some options though, and we’re talking about them.

“I’m going to be test and reserve driver at McLaren anyway, which is a good position to be in. Obviously I want to race something next year as well, to say sharp, to stay fit, and to stay focused, so we’ll see what comes out.

“And if you stay sharp, fit and focused, then if any opportunity arises in F1 you’re 100 percent ready to jump in.”

Vandoorne revealed that the Super Formula championship in Japan is a possible option for 2016, with a test being lined-up in the country in the near future.

“There are definitely some possibilities, and I’ll be doing a Super Formula test in Japan soon,” said Vandoorne.

“The Super Formula cars are really quick. Okay, you don’t have that much horsepower, but the cornering speeds are very impressive indeed. For sure they’re quicker around the corners than F1 cars nowadays.

“As McLaren’s test and reserve driver I’ll be at all the F1 races, and I’ll be in the F1 paddock, so I should be in a good position anyway.”

The GP2 Series champion admits it would be a dream to race in Formula 1, and believes it is about time to see another Belgian driver race in the top level of motorsport, and feels he could taste success as he has been in junior categories should he be given the opportunity.

“I feel like I’ve had a lot more support during this season, and it’s good to see that,” insisted Vandoorne. “It would be good for Belgium to have another F1 driver.

“It’s been a bit of a while since we’ve had a very successful one – Jacky Ickx is the obvious example [who raced in F1 from 1967 to 1979, winning eight GPs].

“My dream is to be in F1 and be successful. Until now, every championship I’ve been in, I’ve been pretty successful, so I feel I can do that in F1 as well.”