McLaren CEO Zak Brown confesses the team didn’t get the best out of Stoffel Vandoorne in his two years at Woking and is keen to learn from the experience to avoid a similar outcome with new recruit Lando Norris.
Vandoorne debuted in Formula 1 as a last-minute replacement for the injured Fernando Alonso at the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix off the back of a stellar junior career.
However, the Belgian was never able to replicate his form in the top tier of motorsport, failing to finish higher than seventh in his two-year stint at McLaren.
With Vandoorne having parted ways with the British outfit at the end of this season, Brown admits, on reflection, it must take some responsibility for Vandoorne’s arduous tenure in the sport.
“We recognise that someone like Stoffel is an extremely good race car driver and for whatever reason it didn’t work out,” said Brown as quoted by RaceFans.net.
“We take some responsibility for that and want to understand why this driver with such a great pedigree didn’t work out. We don’t want to replicate that, where we may have got that wrong or contributed to that lack of success.”
While McLaren bears an all new driver line-up for the first time since 2007, a series of changes to key personnel were made last year as a reaction to its poor on-track form.
Former Indycar champion Gil de Feran was appointed sporting director and Brown says his main responsibility in 2019 will be to create the best working environment for the drivers.
“One of his many roles is effectively my right-hand man in all things McLaren Racing as sporting director,” added Brown.
“One of the things that I would recognise is I think we need some additional racers in the McLaren family. If you look at Gil’s pedigree first and foremost as a driver, the as an IndyCar team owner, and as a sports car owner, he’s got a well-rounded understanding having won championships with Roger Penske what success looks like from many different aspects including sitting in the cockpit.
“One of [de Ferran’s] primary roles is to make sure that everyone gels including the driver. So, he’ll be spending time both with Lando and Carlos [Sainz] making sure that we give them the best environment to work in.”