Formula 1

Vandoorne ‘Much Better Prepared’ Should Formula 1 Substitute Driver Role Open Up

2 Mins read
Credit: FIA Formula E

Stoffel Vandoorne feels he would be better prepared to jump into a Formula 1 race seat at short notice than he was the first time he was called upon to stand in for a driver back in 2016.

Back in 2016, the Belgian driver was called up to race for the McLaren F1 Team after Fernando Alonso was deemed unfit to race in the Bahrain Grand Prix, and despite minimal preparation, he went on to score a point for tenth place.

Vandoorne last raced in Formula 1 in 2018, with his final season in the sport yielding only twelve points as he finished a lowly sixteenth in the Drivers’ Championship, with both the Belgian and then team-mate Alonso leaving McLaren at the end of the campaign.

For the past two years, he was been racing in the FIA Formula E championship, firstly with HWA Racelab and then with the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team, and in the latter he took his first series win and second place in the championship standings. 

He is also the official simulator, test and reserve driver for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team and would also be available to race for BWT Racing Point Formula 1 Team and his former team McLaren should they need a driver at short notice.

“I managed to do it back then not having much preparation,” said Vandoorne to Autosport. “I think I would be much better prepared right now to jump in.

“I haven’t driven a Formula 1 car in a long time. It would be strange in the beginning but I’m still quite active with all the work I’m doing at Mercedes in the simulator and travelling to the races as well. I’m pretty confident I would at least know what to expect, let’s say.

“With McLaren, I kind of know the people there because I’ve been there for a few years driving in F1 with them, so I think it wouldn’t be a problem to jump in.”

Vandoorne says he does not wish ill on any driver, but he would be ready to jump into a race seat should one become available across the remainder of this season.

“I don’t wish on anyone to get ill, so it’s never really the desire to jump in,” added Vandoorne.  “It’s a strange position to be in.

“You never really know when you’ll have to step in, but I’m ready if something happens.”

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