McLaren F1 Team driver Stoffel Vandoorne has described the day-night challenge of racing in Bahrain as “special and unique.”
Belgian Vandoorne made his Formula 1 debut at the Sakhir International Circuit in 2016, standing in for the injured Fernando Alonso, finishing in 10th place, and he is confident that McLaren can score another strong result, following fifth for Alonso and ninth for himself in Australia.
He said: “I’m very happy to be heading to Bahrain on the back of a positive weekend for us in Australia.
“There is a good feeling in the team, and we’re all working hard to keep that going.
“We know there’s a lot to do, and every race brings a new set of challenges.
“Racing from day to night always feel special and makes this grand prix so unique.”
“An important race”
Vandoorne is in his second full season as an F1 driver, having been promoted to a full-time race seat ahead of the ’17 season and he is keen to avoid a repeat of last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
During the event, Vandoorne’s then Honda power unit suffered repeated MGU-H failures, which led to him being unable to even start the race.
The 26-year-old said: “It is very different from Australia in terms of set-up, so I’m keen to maximise track time to work on preparation with the engineers.
“Last year, I had a lot of bad luck there reliability-wise, so I’m hoping we can have better fortunes there this time around.”
Vandoorne also noted the importance of the race for McLaren’s shareholders.
He said: “Bahrain is a great venue and it is an important race for us, thanks to our shareholders,” – the Bahraini Sovereign Wealth fund, Mumtalakat.
“The weather is good, and the later-than-usual programme for the weekend sets it apart from a lot of other tracks we visit.