Despite finishing last of the classified drivers at the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago, McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team rookie Stoffel Vandoorne thoroughly enjoyed his first ever race as a full-time F1 driver.
“Although the race in Australia was disappointing for us in terms of where we finished the race, for me it was a big milestone in my career and I’m glad I’ve got my first official race start as a McLaren-Honda driver under my belt.
“I learned a lot and had to react quickly to various challenges we faced over the weekend, and I’m proud of the way we handled them to get the car home.”
Vandoorne anticipates another tough race for the Woking based squad in China this weekend, but will work hard to extract the best he can from the MCL32, with the hope that the upgrades the team are bringing to Shanghai will help him to achieve that.
“Finishing last is never what we would want, and China will be equally difficult for us, but I know we have some new parts for this weekend and as usual we’ll be pushing hard to get the maximum out of our package.”
Having never raced at the Shanghai International Circuit before, the Belgian is really looking forward to getting his teeth stuck into it this weekend, having taken to the track many times on the simulator.
“The circuit is a new one for me, so I’m looking forward to driving it for the first time for real and not just on the simulator, and getting to grips with the changeable conditions.
“The Shanghai track has very different characteristics from Melbourne and from the next race in Bahrain, so I’m keen to get on top of that early in the weekend and work hard on set-up.
“It’s a mix of low and medium-speed corners and then the long, fast straights, so it has a bit of everything.“
Vandoorne knows that having no real experience of the Chinese track means the three practice sessions will be all-important for having a strong race on Sunday, and so he will be hoping for an issue free weekend to allow him to learn as much as possible ahead of the main event.
“Getting as much time on track during the practice sessions will be important, so I’ll be aiming to learn as much as I can on Friday and will see what we can do over the rest of the weekend.”