Stoffel Vandoorne feeling ‘confident’ and ‘refreshed’ heading into season opener


Vandoorne at Winter Testing
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Now going into his second full season of Formula One, McLaren F1 Team‘s Stoffel Vandoorne feels ready to begin the 2018 season this weekend at the Australian Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver will be using his experience from last year heading into the season opener. The race at the Albert Park circuit in 2017 was the Belgian’s first official race as a full-time driver for the team after his one-off appearance at Bahrain in 2016, subbing in for the injured Fernando Alonso.

Vandoorne still believes that there is a lot for him to learn about the package of the MCL33, even though the regulations haven’t changed greatly from last year. Testing for the team was a mixed affair – they had several reliability issues, but the overall pace looked encouraging. He is keen to optimise all the practice time afforded to the teams on Friday and Saturday morning to work on the set-up of the car.

“Melbourne is a really cool season opener,” said Vandoorne. “The first race coincides with my birthday, and I’ve got great memories from last year as it was my first Grand Prix for the team as a race driver.

“Now that I’ve got my first full season under my belt, I’m heading to Australia feeling confident, relaxed and refreshed, and I can’t wait to go racing again.

“I’ve been working hard all winter on my training and spending a lot of time with the engineers back at the factory to prepare for this year. Although the regulations have stayed relatively stable, there’s still a lot to learn and our package, in particular, is very different from last year.

“It’ll also be interesting to see both the drivers’ and fans’ reactions to the very first Grand Prix with the Halo.

“I’m really excited – it’s the start of a new challenge for all of us,” he said. ” I’m keen to maximise all the track time we have on Friday to work on the set-up to suit the circuit conditions and prep for the weekend ahead.

“We won’t be getting carried away as we don’t yet know for sure where we stand compared to the other teams, but now the winter is over we all can’t wait to get started with F1 2018.”