Vandoorne returns to Bahrain one year on from Formula 1 debut


Credit: Steven Tee/McLaren

For the first time this year, Stoffel Vandoorne will race on a circuit on which he has previous knowledge, having made his Grand Prix debut at the Bahrain International Circuit in 2016, replacing his now-team-mate Fernando Alonso.

The McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team racer scored a point on his debut last year and also won twice at the track during his successful time in the GP2 Series, and although it’s been a difficult start to the 2017 season, he is still striving to improve every time he hits the track.

“I have lots of good memories from the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend in 2016,” said Vandoorne. “We’re a year on now, I’m a full-time McLaren-Honda driver, and I’ve already gained a lot more experience in the past 12 months, so of course my aim is to work hard and improve every time I arrive at a grand prix.

“This year will be difficult for us, but we’ll be racing hard as always.”

Vandoorne insists that it is important to get some good mileage this weekend in Bahrain after his Chinese Grand Prix was cut short early due to a fuel pressure issue on his MCL32, but despite that disappointment feels that the car is showing good signs of improvement.

“The most important thing for me is mileage, and the weather will surely be better in Bahrain than it was in Shanghai, so I’m hoping to do as many laps as possible over the weekend,” said Vandoorne.

“It helps that I know this track well and I won there twice in 2015 in GP2, so I’m already comfortable with the layout and therefore it’s a case of building on what I already know.

“We were always expecting a difficult weekend in China, and I don’t know if it will get a lot better in Bahrain – it’s only one week later and there’s obviously a limit to how many changes we can apply in that time, but we’ll do our best as usual.

“The car is definitely improving and both Fernando and I feel confident and competitive, especially in the corners, so we’ll have to wait and see what’s possible at this track.”