#2 STOFFEL VANDOORNE
After breaking records in GP2, Stoffel Vandoorne scored points on his one-off F1 début in 2016. He finally stepped up to a full-time drive in 2017, where he showed glimpses of why he’s so highly regarded. Will McLaren’s new engine partner allow the Belgian driver to battle further up the field in 2018?
|Full Name||Stoffel Vandoorne|
|Date of Birth||26th March 1992|
|First Race||2016 Bahrain Grand Prix|
Stoffel Vandoorne was born in Kortrijk, Belgium, in 1992. His architect father had been commisioned to design the interior of a restaurant for a kart track in Flanders. The owner of the track gave the young Vandoorne a kart and his passion for racing grew from there. Initially, lack of funding limited him to competing in three or four races per year, but his talent shone through as, by the age of sixteen, he became the Belgian KF2 champion. The prize money from another series he won that year allowed him to make the step up to single seater racing in 2010.
He took victory in the F4 Eurocup series in his first season, racking up six race wins along the way. He switched to Formula Renault for 2011, scoring just one podium in his début year before winning the title in 2012 after a season long battle with Daniil Kvyat. In 2013 he moved on to Formula Reanult 3.5, where he won four races and finished runner-up to similarly McLaren-backed driver Kevin Magnussen in the championship. Vandoorne became McLaren’s reserve driver for 2014 and contested in his maiden season of GP2. Competing with ART, he won his first race in the series and went on to finish runner-up to Jolyon Palmer in the championship. The following season, Stoffel was unstoppable and broke numerous records on his way to the 2015 GP2 title.
In 2016, Vandoorne deputised for the injured Fernando Alonso at the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix, where he scored his first F1 point, and the McLaren team’s first point of the season. For the rest of the year he combined his McLaren commitments with a season in Japan’s Super Formula, winning two races on his way to fourth in the championship. At the 2016 Italian Grand Prix, it was announced that Vandoorne would be replacing Jenson Button for the 2017 season.
With a team-mate like Fernando Alonso, it was always going to be a difficult task for Stoffel Vandoorne to consistently impress over his maiden season. Nevertheless, Vandoorne’s improvement over the course of the year didn’t go unnoticed. The qualifying margin to his champion team-mate was just two tenths on average, and he scored just four points less than the Spaniard by the end of the season. His two crashes in Monaco and his collision with Felipe Massa in Spain were mere blots on an otherwise solid form book, in a maiden season where he finished seventh twice in an under-performing car. With any luck, McLaren will provide Vandoorne with a car and engine package in 2018 which is more capable of showing his highly rated race craft.
STOFFEL VANDOORNE’S F1 RECORD
|2016||McLaren||20th (1 point)||0||0||0|
|2017||McLaren||16th (13 points)||0||0||0|