Stoffel Vandoorne has enjoyed a successful winter so far. The reigning Formula Renault 2.0 Champion topped the timesheets at the opening test of the year in Aragon for Fortec Motorsports and was also signed up to Mclaren’s young driver programme.
And now the Belgian is looking to replicate Robin Frijns’ feat last season of winning the Formula Renault 3.5 title at the first attempt, after pushing himself to the limit over the winter.
Vandoorne said: “It’s been a pretty long winter so it’s good to be at the top of the standings right from day one. It’s a time of year when you have to work on your physical fitness. You’re not driving and you have to think first and foremost about preparing for the season.
“It was difficult to judge how we were doing in the morning because the track was drying, but we saw in the afternoon that the work he’d done in the winter had been well worthwhile. I’m happy and we’re heading in the right direction.”
Vandoorne is not the only driver in the World Series by Renault formulas to secure ties with Mclaren and will join Kevin Magnussen and Nick de Vries on the team’s development programme.
“We’ve been in contact since the middle of the 2011 season,” said Vandoorne. “I met Alexander Wurz at the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy and it was he who put us in touch.
“Their team started to follow my progress after that and I presented my results to them at the end of 2011. McLaren sporting director Sam Michael set up a meeting at the factory in early 2012 and McLaren followed me throughout my World Series by Renault season.
“Then, two days after I won the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 title, they asked me to join the McLaren Young Driver Programme. Although his ties with the Formula One could see him propel up the motor racing ladder, Vandoorne is keeping his expectations in check this term as he looks for back-to-back titles in WSR.
“I have to take things step by step and I’m focusing on Formula Renault 3.5 Series for the time being. It’s going to be a very tight championship and it won’t be an easy one to win.”