Vandoorne: 'I've come into my own this season'


Stoffel Vandoorne feels he's made considerable progress over the course of the 2017 season, and says he's now more comfortable "than ever before" in the cockpit of his McLaren.

The Belgian embarked on his maiden full year of F1 full of hope, but was hit early on by Honda's dismal reliability issues.

But when he was spared mechanical troubles, the 25-year-old underperformed on a relative basis compared to team mate Fernando Alonso, a deficit which warranted a few changes to his driving style and a period of very hard work.

Vandoorne therefater stepped up his performance, and reduced the gap to the Spaniard.

"This year has been full of ups and downs for us," said the Belgian ahead of this weekend's Abu Dhabi GP.
"I had a difficult start to the year, but as the season has progressed I've worked really hard with the team and feel that I've come into my own.

"I'm more comfortable in the cockpit now than ever before, and my rate of progression over the second half of the season has been very satisfying.

"It's been a challenging year, but ultimately a rewarding one because I've learned a lot, and I can't wait to see what next year will bring."

Vandoorne is happy to see the curtain come down at Yas Marina, a track he appreciates and knows quite well from his winning GP2 days.

"I like racing on this circuit and there’s definitely a special feeling at this grand prix," he says.

"It’s a strange mix between that ‘end-of-term’ feeling and a lot of anticipation about the weekend ahead, before everyone goes home for a break and then starts working on next year’s car.

"It’s good to finish the season at a circuit I know well after a couple of new ones in the past few races.

"I’ve driven at Yas Marina Circuit a number of times – in testing and also in GP2, and I’ve won here twice, which are really special memories.

"I’m looking forward to tackling it again in a Formula 1 car – it’s a tricky, technical circuit, but rewarding, and because of its configuration it’s pretty difficult to overtake.

"We’ll be pushing hard this weekend to finish the year on a high."

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