Vandoorne: No guarantees of 2017 McLaren F1 drive

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Stoffel Vandoorne says McLaren has given him “no guarantees” of an F1 drive in 2017, with the Belgian ace also inching closer to secure a Super Formula seat this year.

Vandoorne romped to the GP2 Series title with ART last year, securing seven wins and four pole positions to finish a whopping 160 points ahead of runner-up Alexander Rossi.

The 23-year-old, who already served as McLaren test and development driver, emerged as a prime candidate to replace Jenson Button at Woking until the 2009 world champion was confirmed for another season.

Instead, Vandoorne has become reserve driver in replacement of Kevin Magnussen and intends to use this opportunity as a launchpad to get a fully-fledged role in 2017.

“Nothing has been promised, but I'm working my way towards F1, that's definitely where I want to be,” he said during a phone-in interview on Friday.

“I already wanted to be there this year, and I feel 100% ready to be there. Unfortunately there were no places available this season, so I have to work towards 2017.

“I feel I'm in the right place, they trust my abilities. There are no guarantees but it would be a good place for me to race, I've been with the team for a couple of years and we've had a lot of success together.

“Hopefully we can build on that success in the future and hopefully I can get a race drive here.”

Keen to avoid the fate that befell former Formula Renault 3.5 rival Magnussen – the Dane was dropped by McLaren last October –, Vandoorne reiterates his willingness to dovetail his F1 commitment with Super Formula outings in Japan this year.

“We are still working on that, but it is no secret that we are going in that direction. I am confident that a deal will happen. It will be a very busy year for me, but a very good preparation for 2017.

“I think it is still important to race something. It keeps you race sharp and race fit. It gives you something to work for during the year. Super Formula may not have very many races, but the cars are fast.

“I tested one at the end of November in Suzuka. They have great cornering speeds so it is a good preparation for 2017.”

Vandoorne is scheduled to feature in next week's Pirelli wet tyre test at Paul Ricard.

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