Vandoorne pleased with ‘useful’ formative year

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Stoffel Vandoorne has described his 2016 season as ‘useful’, with the Belgian ready to step up to a full-time Formula One seat at McLaren-Honda next year.

Despite claiming the 2015 GP2 Series in dominant fashion, Vandoorne, who had also become Woking’s official reserve driver, could not graduate to the upper echelon the following season since McLaren already had world champions Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button on its roster.

2016 driver ratings: 24-13

The 24-year-old did get the opportunity to make his grand prix debut in Bahrain in lieu of an injured Alonso, and impressed in out-qualifying Button before securing his team’s first point of the season with 10th place.

In order to remain race-sharp, Vandoorne also competed in the Japan-based Super Formula series where he won a couple of events.

“I think I was already mature enough for F1 [at the start of 2016] but with no seat available I remained in the best possible environment,” he told F1i. “Super Formula gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in the Japanese culture and I could work closely with Honda.

“It’s been a useful formative year where I’ve gained experience and grown more mature.”

Vandoorne will replace Button in 2017, but the Briton will remain as reserve driver and ambassador for the team.

“With Fernando as a team-mate along with Jenson’s advice, I can’t complain!” the Belgian added. “I’ve been stepping up my fitness training with Jenson’s physio Michael Collier, who has extensive experience in the industry.”

Silbermann says ... Merry Christmas

2016 driver ratings: 12-1

2016 team-by-team review: Part two

2016 team-by-team review: Part one

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