Stoffel Vandoorne: dramatic debut to 'tough' exit

Apr 23, 11:01 PM

A multiple title winner at junior level and a point-scorer on his unexpected F1 debut in 2016, Stoffel Vandoorne seemed on track for a long and prosperous career in Formula 1.

But his big break at McLaren in 2017 arrived during one of the team’s most challenging periods.

They finished second-last in the standings during Vandoorne’s first season, endured a difficult transition from Honda to Renault engines the following year, and there was huge organisational change at the top as Zak Brown came in as CEO.

After just seven points-finishes in two years, with a best result of P7, Stoffel was replaced by Lando Norris for 2019 and he hasn’t raced in F1 since.

Now a Test and Reserve driver for Aston Martin, the Belgian tells Tom Clarkson how he prepared for his first race in F1 at such short notice, the drama of signing his first McLaren contract, where it all went wrong during his two seasons on the grid, and what impact those struggles had on his mental wellbeing, motivation and enjoyment of racing.

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