Stoffel Vandoorne dominated the 2015 GP2 season, the Belgian won the series with an admirable margin of 160 points over American, Alexander Rossi.
Vandoorne presented himself to the world after winning the championship with ART Grand Prix and, as you may know, the GP2 champion can no longer participate in the sport.
Due to this accolade, the 23-year-old has to resort to maintaining a reserve role with the McLaren Formula One team.
However, with drivers like Rossi already competing in F1, it’s strange that Vandoorne is being put aside; leaving the likes of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso to team up again for another season.
The McLaren car for 2015 was poor, with Honda failing to deliver the performance many hoped for. However, the 2016 model is expected to be quicker, with the team reported to have solved an ERS problem that’s rumoured to give the car around 220 horsepower extra.
Danish driver, Kevin Magnussen, drove for McLaren during the 2014 season, but was dropped to McLaren’s reserve driver role in 2015. The 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion took part in one Grand Prix last year due to a strange injury which Fernando Alonso sustained during testing in Barcelona. However, Magnussen failed to impress during this short period and was sacked by McLaren that season.
Vandoorne will replace Magnussen, but he must be confident as he doesn’t want to suffer the same fate as his Danish predecessor, who is now understood to have replaced Maldonado at Renault.
Vandoorne is the same age as Magnussen, but the GP2 champion believes that he is the one to be the next McLaren driver.
Speaking to Autosport, the Belgian youngster said: “We are both very different and our positions were quite different.
“Kevin came off the back of a Formula One campaign and was the reserve for a season without possibilities to race anything beside that.
“Kevin didn’t have a lot of track time but hopefully in my case, it will be quite a bit different.”
Vandoorne wouldn’t want to waste his time at McLaren, he won’t drive in the 2016 campaign and has played down rumours of him driving in 2017.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Vandoorne explained: “I already wanted to be there this year and I feel 100 percent ready to be there. Unfortunately, there were no places available for this season and so I have to work towards 2017 and get the best preparation as possible.”
An alternative option for Vandoorne would’ve been to join a back-marker team, similar to what Daniel Ricciardo has done. The Aussie started off at HRT and has worked his way up to Red Bull Racing, finishing above teammate and four-time World Champion, Sebastian Vettel in 2014.
Vandoorne would hope to get a drive as soon as he can, so he can translate his stellar performances in GP2 into Formula One success.
The Belgian will be hoping that a few years out of regular racing won’t cause him to become rusty. Let’s hope he doesn’t lose any of that racecraft, we would love to see him fighting at the front of the grid in the future.