Vandoorne 'absolutely has to get a seat in Formula One'

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Stoffel Vandoorne has been strongly backed in his bid for a seat in Formula One by his current bosses at the GP2 team ART Grand Prix.

"The only thing I can say is that it would be a huge disaster if Stoffel was not going to be in Formula One next year, after doing such a great job in the categories under Formula One," ART team manager Sébastien Philippe told this week.

"All the doors are closing at the moment, so I'll be very disappointed if this is not going to happen. Until it is all over, we need to remain optimistic for him

"If he cannot go into Formula One, there is something wrong. It would be a disaster and unfair.

"This year he has destroyed the [GP2] championship. On his side, there is nothing he could have done better. It would not be acceptable for him not to be in the top category."

The 23-year-old Belgian has won five races in this year's GP2 Series and is currently leading Alexander Rossi in the drivers championship by a massive 98 point margin. He could clinch this year's title as early as next weekend at Russia.

"From a mathematical point of view, he is the best driver in the history of GP2," ART's team principal Frederic Vasseur pointed out.

As well as competing in GP2, Vandoorne is also currently working as a test and development driver for McLaren. However, with the confirmation that Jenson Button will remain at the team next season alongside Fernando Alonso it seems that the young driver's path there to the Formula One grid is blocked for at least the next season.

Before the announcement of Button's new contract extension with McLaren, Vasseur had predicted: "If they don’t choose Stoffel, I think they will free him from his contract."

And just last month, McLaren's racing director Eric Boullier said that he wanted both Vandoorne and his fellow test and development driver Kevin Magnussen to be on the grid in Formula One in 2016, although admitting that it would not necessarily be at McLaren itself.

"Kevin and Stoffel are very good. Both of them we expect to race in Formula One and if we can't fit or accommodate them we will do our best to make sure they can race next year."

Reports have linked Vasseur with the job of running the new Renault works team once the manufacturer's long-awaited takeover of Lotus goes through, suggesting that he might be lining up Vandoorne to come with him and succeed Romain Grosjean in the team's driver line-up next year.

"It is no secret that Stoffel is courted by Formula One teams," Vasseur told "I pray Vandoorne gets given a shot next year because he's been super good. If not, then it's complete bull****."

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