The lowdown on Stoffel Vandoorne
2017: 16th place. Born: 26/3/1992.
Like team-mate Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne will be hoping for a massive lift in fortunes following McLaren’s decision to ditch Honda and bring in Renault engines for 2018.
The Belgian made a promising points-scoring debut in 2016 when he was called in to replace the injured Alonso in Bahrain, and he out-qualified veteran teammate Jenson Button. A year later, at the same circuit, he couldn’t even start the race due to a power unit problem.
He did show glimpses of his talent with seventh place in Singapore and Malaysia but had only one other top-10 finish in his full rookie season, earning just four fewer points than Alonso’s 17.
Given his full-time chance at McLaren when 2009 world champion Button retired, Vandoorne had previously been racing in Japan in the Super Formula series.
He made a stellar rise up the ranks, winning his first Renault 3.5 race in 2013, and triumphed in his GP2 debut the following year before a record-breaking second season to claim the championship with four races left.