Stoffel Vandoorne: “The progress with the car is good”

Stoffel Vandoorne drove the McLaren-Honda MP4-31 for the first time since making his points-scoring Formula 1 debut in Bahrain Grand Prix, and felt that the car has certainly been improved since that race in April.

The Belgian, reserve driver for McLaren in 2016 and racing in the Japanese-based Super Formula championship, replaced an injured Fernando Alonso in Bahrain, and scored the team’s first point of the year with a tenth place finish.

Vandoorne admitted it took a little time to readjust himself to the car, but felt that he optimised the opportunity to test on Wednesday, a day after regular race driver Jenson Button had taken to the track.

“The car felt good straight away today,” revealed Vandoorne, who completed 108 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya, with a best time of 1m24.006s. “Of course, I had a few laps of adjusting to the car, but it definitely has progressed since I raced it in Bahrain. It’s been a positive and productive day.

“Although it’s easier to get into the car having experienced a full race weekend, there is always a need to readjust for F1, especially after racing in Super Formula, but I quickly got used to it. The car feels better in every area, with downforce feeling much improved compared to Bahrain.

“As a racing driver, you want to spend as much time as possible in the car, but I try and optimise every moment I have, and I feel like I’ve had the chance to do that today. All in all, the progress with the car is good, so I’m happy.”