Fernando Alonso has yet to confirm he will stay with McLaren beyond 2017, should the Spaniard decide to move elsewhere Stoffel Vandoorne says he is ready to lead the team into the future.
Asked by Racer, ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, if he was ready to be the number one driver should Alonso depart, Vandoorne replied, “A hundred percent. I think everything is going in the good direction. The team relies a lot on me, because I spend a lot of time in the factory as well with the aerodynamicists, in the simulator, with the other technical guys.”
“So for sure. I mean, Fernando is not going to continue forever so how long he will stay in F1, if he will stay with us, I don’t know. I’m just pushing from my side, not thinking too much about my teammate to be honest and to really trying to prepare for the future.”
Next year McLaren hope to be on a more level playing field with their switch to Renault power, after three frustrating and fruitless years with Honda.
Asked if his team will be able to emulate and even beat Renault powered Red Bull, who have won twice this year, he responded, “I hope we can, yes. How big a step of performance we will make next year is difficult to say. I think it will definitely be better and for sure Red Bull is a big benchmark for us, so I think it should be our aim to be very close with them but still we have to wait and see.”
“It will already be a big step forward. On some circuits we will be close but I think we need to wait and see how we progress,” added the Belgian driver.
Vandoorne has been confirmed for next year by McLaren, while Alonso is expected to make a decision on his future this month with the smart money on him staying with the Woking outfit for another year at least.
Big Question: Is Stoffel ready to lead McLaren?