McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Stoffel Vandoorne is getting ready to make his full season debut in F1 with the Woking based squad this year, and has plenty to look forward to, as he explained in a recent interview with CNN’s ‘The Circuit’.
Driving for McLaren is something the Belgian has dreamed of doing ever since he was a young boy, and so he is extremely proud of being able to race for them with a full-time seat in F1 this year, having been part of the McLaren young driver programme since 2013.
“McLaren is a team which I was dreaming of in the past.
“I remember I was watching television and seeing David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen, those where my favourite cars at the time as well, I’ve always had a sweet spot for McLaren, so it’s great for me to be a race driver for them.
“It kind of feels normal but it’s a huge achievement and I’m looking forward to giving my best for the team.”
The Belgian is a highly rated talent, having dominated the GP2 championship in 2015 to take the title, but will now line up alongside Fernando Alonso, a driver many consider to be the best of the current crop competing in F1.
Such a prospect does not phase Vandoorne however, who knows he has a F1 master from which to learn from, a great and unique opportunity for any driver starting out their trade.
“I have a very good relationship with Fernando, I’ve been working with him for the past two years now.
“I’ve seen how he works with the team, interacts with the people. He’s a very competitive guy so I know what it’s like to be next to him and I just have to make the most out of every situation, out of his experience.
“I am going to learn a lot from him.”
Vandoorne is relishing the prospect of pitting himself against the Spaniard, knowing that if he can at least match the double world champion across the season, he will have proved he is capable and deserving of a F1 seat.
The 24-year-old has already acquitted himself well, standing in for Alonso at the Bahrain Grand Prix last season, where on debut; he bagged McLaren’s first point of the year.
“I think F1 is always a pressure environment no matter what, it will always be like that.
“For me it’s some positive pressure and I like that, it’s something I’m looking to, to go up against the best drivers, so I’ll definitely have that chance to fully prove myself.”
Just as the Belgian embarks on his first full season in F1, the rules and regulations have once again been changed.
Wider cars and tyres have been introduced, which is hoped will generate more downforce and faster speeds through corners, and that is something Vandoorne is looking forward to, especially having driven a car in the Japanese Super Formula Series in 2016, that will have a very similar feel to this year’s F1 machines.
“It’s looking very good. It will go faster; we shouldn’t be worried about that.
“In terms of looks and aerodynamics it’s a positive step… We don’t really know 100 percent what to expect, we’ll have to wait until testing to see what it’s like, the development rate through the season will be quite impressive for everybody.”
Winter testing did not go quite as planned for McLaren, having been plagued by Honda engine failures throughout the eight days of running, so it could be a steep learning curve for Vandoorne at the beginning of the year.
Honda are confident they can resolve the issues however, and so hopefully the Belgian will be able to line up on the grid in Melbourne, with a worthy machine.
You can watch the full interview on CNN at http://cnn.it/2nMcv2w