Boutsen: 'Vandoorne must have patience'


Former F1 driver Thierry Boutsen is a believer in the talent of his countryman Stoffel Vandoorne, but says the McLaren needs to be patient.

A veteran of 163 Grands Prix, with three victories to his name, Boutsen is just as sad as anyone to see McLaren-Honda  linger and struggle.

"If you like Formula 1, it hurts to see where they are," Boutsen told Dutch publication Formule 1.

"But Stoffel must persevere. As a driver you have to block out the rear view mirror because you have to always look ahead," said the Belgian, who is now 60.

"He still has time. He's only 25 and my first victory also took time. But I knew from the start 'Give me a good car and you'll hear the Belgian anthem'," he added.

"So he must have patience. From what I saw in the lower classes I can say confidently that Stoffel has the potential to be world champion."

Boutsen, who has enjoyed a successful post-F1 life in the aviation industry, also underlined a typical difficulty faced by Belgian drivers: a lack of commercial appeal compared to drivers from bigger countries.

The mere fact that Vandoorne has reached the pinnacle of motorsport is therefore a testimony to his valued talent.

"For Belgians it is so much harder to get to F1," he confirmed.

"Belgium has no big sponsors, so you have to do it all alone. I know it well, as at Williams I was better than my teammate Riccardo Patrese but as an Italian he was commercially more interesting.

"And another sponsor, Labatt, wanted a driver for the British market, which was Nigel Mansell. As a Belgian you always have to show more than an Englishman, Italian or German," Boutsen insisted.

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