McLaren and Stoffel Vandoorne to split at the end of the season!

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McLaren confirmed today that Stoffel Vandoorne will no longer be racing for the Woking-based outfit in 2019.

The news was widely anticipated following a season in which the Belgian has been thoroughly dominated by team mate Fernando Alonso and failed to live up to expectations.

Vandoorne was integrated into McLaren's young driver programme in 2013 and made his Grand Prix debut in Bahrain in 2016 when he deputized for an injured Alonso.

There's no doubt the team's dismal period with Honda, which Vandoorne experienced first hand in 2017, likely hindered the former GP2 champion's ability to settle himself into the F1 groove and properly showcase his talent, while he was also on the receiving end this year of much of the team's reliability issues.

In short, Stoffel definitely wasn't given the best formative years in F1 by McLaren, something the team readily admits.

"I’m very grateful to McLaren for investing their faith in me over the past five years," said Vandoorne.

"I joined McLaren as a young driver and have since seen my career progress within the team from Test and Development Driver to Reserve Driver and then to full-time race driver.

"While we haven’t achieved the success we’d all hoped for, I’ve really enjoyed the past two seasons racing for McLaren and I have a great relationship with everyone in the team.

"My time at McLaren has been a great chapter in my career and I’m thankful for the opportunity the team, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa and Mansour Ojjeh have given me to gain valuable Formula 1 experience and develop as a driver.

"I intend to give it my all for the remaining seven races of this season, and will announce my plans for next season in due course."

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing commented:

"We’re immensely thankful for Stoffel’s dedication, hard work and commitment during his time at McLaren. He’s a talented racing driver with an incredible list of accolades in his junior career.

"We’re proud to have played a part in his break into Formula 1, from his role as Test Driver to his fantastic points-scoring debut in Bahrain in 2016.

"It’s clear we haven’t provided Stoffel with the tools to show his true talent, but throughout our relationship he’s proved to be a fantastic team player.

"His work ethic is impressive, he has a great reputation within the team and we’ve really enjoyed working with him. Of course, we would have loved to achieve more success during our time together, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that he will always be a part of the McLaren family of grand prix drivers.

"For now, we look to the future and to the remaining grands prix in 2018, where I know both Stoffel and Fernando will be pushing hard to fight for as many points as possible before we close the curtain on this season.

"We wish Stoffel all the best in whatever direction he chooses to take next in his career, and we’ll be supporting him all the way. We will announce our full driver line-up for the 2019 season in due course."

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