'Best schooling possible for Vandoorne, but expectations are high', says Button


Jenson Button is a big fan of McLaren's 2017 race driver Stoffel Vandoorne, but the Brit insists that while the Belgian is ideally prepared to replace him next year, he will need to deliver the goods.

Button will be taking a sabbatical next season but remains contracted to the Woking-based outfit for 2018, a state of affairs which does not guarantee Vandoorne a free pass twelve months down the road.

"To be fair to Stoffel, he's achieved a lot in his career, but most drivers that get to drive a McLaren have done a very good job in their career before they get there," Button told Sky Sports.

"He's had the best schooling if you like because he's been with the team since 2013. This year he's shadowed Fernando and myself. So he's been at every race, he's stood by us every time we've done engineering, debriefs..

"Everything apart from driving the car he's been there so he's learnt so much this year.  He's in a perfect position, but it's still a difficult role to be a driver for McLaren, one of the biggest teams in the world with so much history."

Actually Stoffel did get to drive the car when he stepped in for an injured Alonso in Bahrain at the start of the season, the Belgian achieving a fine drive to ninth on that occasion.

I won't be clear sailing obviously for the 25-year-old hopeful with still much to learn, a team still in progress mode and the need to live up to everyone's expectations. Button however believes McLaren will be in good hands in 2017.

"So it's tough, and he's alongside Fernando Alonso. Hopefully for his sake he does a good job, and if he does he will have a long and exciting career with McLaren.

"But obviously if you don't perform in your first year, that has consequences as well so there's always pressure.

"The team is in a good position. They have two world champions, and they have Stoffel who is hungry to succeed in the team. The future is looking really good for McLaren-Honda."

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