F1 in 2017 will see a step up everywhere – Vandoorne


Stoffel Vandoorne. Credit: McLaren Media Centre

McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Stoffel Vandoorne says that every part of driving a F1 car will be ramped up in 2017.

Faster, more aggressive cars, as well as wider tyres are set to liven up the F1 spectacle, whilst at the same time increasing the physical demand for drivers.

The new tyre construction will improve downforce and increase speeds in the corners, allowing drivers to take many of them flat out this year, and the Belgian is looking forward to that prospect, with one section of track in particular that he’s looking forward to experiencing at full chat, as he revealed in an interview on the McLaren.com website.

“I’m really hoping that we’ll be able to take Turn Three at Barcelona flat this year. It’s a corner that I’ve been able to take flat in the junior series, such as Formula Renault 3.5, so you’d expect it to be flat in Formula 1 as well, even though there’s a lot more horsepower.

“Obviously, I’ve still only driven it in the sim, but using our current predictions, it should be flat – whether it actually will be, we’ll have to wait and see.”

The changes are set to make driving the car much tougher for drivers, but the 24-year-old is confident he will be able to adjust, and take the extra demands in his stride.

“When a corner is flat, you don’t really think about it too much. You know you can’t do anything else except put your foot to the floor, and then be as smooth as possible with the steering wheel so as not to scrub too much speed off.  So then your focus shifts towards other parts of the circuit. We’ll be working harder to extract the most performance from those areas of the track.

“I think everything will take a step up – high-speed corners will probably become flat, or close to flat; the mid-speed corners will probably become high-speed corners. And I think the low-speed stuff will still be very similar, it will just be a general step up everywhere.” 

Vandoorne spent last year racing in the Japanese Super Formula Series alongside his duties as McLaren’s official reserve driver, and the close racing in that championship should benefit the Belgian ahead of this year’s F1 campaign.

The Japanese Super Formula machines allow the driver to push to the maximum at every race, who often has to deal with low-degradation tyres at high-speeds, so if nothing else it will have improved the 24-year-old’s race craft, and allow him to battle away on track with no fear!

“I definitely feel it was good for me to race those cars, because they were very quick in the corners, and in Japan, the tracks were very high-speed focused as well, so it was a good opportunity.

“Whether it was good preparation or not for this year, I won’t be able to give you a better answer until after I’ve driven this year’s car!”

Vandoorne has had the chance to test the new specification car with all its changes in the simulator, and commented that it “feels very different to before”.

The Belgian has proven talent in the junior formula’s and is a highly rated driver, who was able to bag a world championship point, McLaren’s first of the 2016 season, when he made his debut standing in for Fernando Alonso at the Bahrain Grand Prix, last year.

Vandoorne’s credentials and ability are second to none, but that could also mean he will have a lot of expectation to live up to this year.