Stoffel Vandoorne: “We’ll be pushing hard this weekend to finish the year on a high”


Credit: McLaren Media Centre

McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Stoffel Vandoorne is looking forward to ending his rookie season in Formula 1, at the Yas Marina Circuit for the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a track he enjoys and knows well.

The Belgian will be looking for a strong result on Sunday, having won here twice previously whilst competing in GP2, but is aware it is notoriously difficult to overtake at the Yas Marina Circuit, so a good qualifying session on Saturday will be important.

“It’s good to finish the season at a circuit I know well after a couple of new ones in the past few races.

“I’ve driven at Yas Marina Circuit a number of times – in testing and also in GP2, and I’ve won here twice, which are really special memories.

“I’m looking forward to tackling it again in a Formula 1 car – it’s a tricky, technical circuit, but rewarding, and because of its configuration it’s pretty difficult to overtake. 

“Racing from day to-night isn’t something I’ve experienced much of in Abu Dhabi because of the timings of the GP2 races, but driving as the sun goes down is really cool.

“I like racing on this circuit and there’s definitely a special feeling at this grand prix. It’s a strange mix between that ‘end-of-term’ feeling and a lot of anticipation about the weekend ahead, before everyone goes home for a break and then starts working on next year’s car.” 

Despite McLaren’s struggles this year, Vandoorne feels he has coped well, improving massively across the season, and gaining confidence with every race.

The Belgian now feels right at home in the MCL32 and says the difficulties experienced in 2017 have been a massive learning curve, which he hopes will stand him in good stead in 2018 and beyond.

“This year has been full of ups and downs for us. For me, I had a difficult start to the year, but as the season has progressed I’ve worked really hard with the team and feel that I’ve come into my own.

“I’m more comfortable in the cockpit now than ever before, and my rate of progression over the second half of the season has been very satisfying.

“It’s been a challenging year, but ultimately a rewarding one because I’ve learned a lot, and I can’t wait to see what next year will bring.

“We’ll be pushing hard this weekend to finish the year on a high.”