There are few drivers who enter Formula One with the reputation Stoffel Vandoorne does, and will make his full season debut finally with McLaren in 2017.
He was nearly there before in 2016, although it decided that Jenson Button would stay another season. However, shortly after that with Vandoorne taking out a season in Japan in the Super Formula, it was clear that the team wanted him in the car for the following season.
That would pose a problem, Fernando Alonso on a three year deal which still has a year left to run, or pushing out Jenson Button – and that is what they did effectively, not completely ruling out a return if Fernando Alonso leaves for a different team in 2018. Clever considering the problem Mercedes finds itself in at the moment.
His GP2 domination in 2015 was something rarely seen in the series, with seven wins, sixteen podiums in total out of the 22 races. It should have been no surprise really, winning his first race in the series in 2014. He had similar wins in the F4 Eurocup, European Formula Renault and Formula Renault 3.5.
His first race in Formula One was certainly impressive, gaining points on his debut as he deputised for Fernando Alonso in Bahrain after his accident in Melbourne which ruled him out for the weekend.
Many consider him to be one of the ‘new generation’ of drivers, but remember his is 24, and will be 25 on the weekend of the Australian Grand Prix. He isn’t really a ‘young driver’ – the likes of Max Verstappen entering the sport, or the new Williams driver Lance Stroll.
Really, you have to consider if there has ever been a driver more conditioned to drive in Formula One than Stoffel Vandoorne.