Vandoorne expecting to start Russian GP weekend on back-foot

Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images

Stoffel Vandoorne is looking forward to returning to the Sochi Autodrom where he clinched his GP2 Series title two years ago.

However, his success in the Russian Grand Prix will be influenced more by the reliability of the car rather than previous good fortune and experience; he has only finished one out of the first three races this season.

I’ve raced in Sochi before and had good results there – it’s where I clinched the GP2 championship in 2015 – so that’s definitely a plus point for me going into the weekend,” he said.

We’ve not been so lucky recently on my side of the garage and I’ve missed quite a lot of valuable mileage, but I hope we can improve that situation this weekend.

Vandoorne was surprised by McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team’s reliability on the final day of Bahrain testing, as was everyone involved. This success has provided a much-needed boost in morale that can only prove beneficial going into this race weekend.

After a difficult couple of weeks, the last day of the Bahrain test was very encouraging, both for me and for the whole team,” he continued.

It was a boost we needed and provided us with a lot of useful information about the direction we are taking the whole package in, so we go to Sochi with a better feeling than we had on Sunday night after a disappointing race.”

Vandoorne and the team are fully aware that their lack of straight line speed will hold them back in Sochi, but the data gathered in Bahrain and that which is available during the three forthcoming practice sessions will hopefully drive the team further forward and potentially into the points.

As I’ve said before, on tracks like this where straight-line speed is important, we know we’ll already be slightly on the back-foot heading into the weekend,” he added. “Our focus should definitely be on maximising our track time and working on reliability.

“If we can have a clean weekend from that point of view and no issues with the car, it will give us the best chance to find performance for the race, and we’ll give it our best shot with the package we have.”