Vulnerable Vandoorne feeling the heat at McLaren


The pressure is ramping up on Stoffel Vandoorne, with McLaren boss Zak Brown delivering a thinly veiled warning to the Belgian before the second part of the season gets underway.

Vandoorne's second full season in Formula 1 perhaps reflects McLaren's own limitations, with Woking-based outfit failing to live up to its own expectations following its switch this year from Honda to Renault power.

But a relative compare between Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso reveals a painful deficit for the 26-year-old who remains the only driver on the grid who has never beaten his team mate in qualifying since the season kicked off in Melbourne.

That deficiency hasn't been lost on Brown although the McLaren did offer his driver some mitigating circumstances.

"I wouldn’t say we’re disappointed by Stoffel. You’d like to see him beating his team-mate more often than he has," said Brown.

"That’s the same in any situation. You’d love to see your team-mates split right down the middle in beating each other every weekend.

"He’s not been able to do that on a regular basis but I wouldn’t say we’re disappointed because last year we know we gave him a very difficult situation and this year we’ve not given him a very good car to work with," added Brown.

"Given Fernando’s talent and experience he’s able to adapt to situations that aren’t great."

Gil de Ferran, McLaren's new sporting director, concurs with Brown and underlines the inadequacies of the team's MCL33 that have hindered both Vandoorne and Alonso this year.

"We’ve been trying to figure out how to progress with the car and how to address some of the balance issues that we’ve been having," said the former Indy 500 winner.

"As a result of that, not only is the car not an easy car, but we keep changing things at a very fast pace.

"That’s very difficult for both drivers to deal with. Certainly for a driver like Fernando, not only do I think that’s one of his best traits, but his experience helps him a lot," acknowledged de Ferran.

Vandoorne will likely take solace however in Alonso's own assessment of his team mate's performance.

"If you see previous teammates, they were a lot further down than Stoffel. In 2014 it was six or seven tenths to Kimi every race. It’s less than that now," said the two-time world champion.

"He arrived in a difficult car with some difficulties last year and this year as well, but he’s OK, and he will be very close in performance as soon as the car is delivering normal performance.

"Nothing really to say to him. And for his reputation, you just need to wait and see, or see the results before Silverstone, or last year, in terms of qualifying," added Alonso.

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