Stoffel Vandoorne has left Bahrain a happy F1 debutant, even though he will probably have to hand back the keys to Fernando Alonso in China. The highly-rated Belgian, the reigning GP2 champion, made his F1 race debut in Bahrain after the McLaren-Honda regular was sidelined with chest injuries.
Vandoorne, 24, more than impressed, outqualifying the vastly more experienced Jenson Button and scoring the team's first point of 2016. "I am of course very happy with the weekend," he told La Derniere Heure, a Belgian daily, as he departed Bahrain.
"I could prove that I was more than capable of driving an F1 car. Everything went the want I wanted," said Vandoorne. "I showed my speed, my fighting spirit but also my reliability even though I only discovered the car on Friday morning."
He also revealed that his debut did not go unnoticed by the F1 community at large. "I have received many messages of congratulations," said Vandoorne. "But what is most important is that I have made a good impression to the team. They know they can count on me."
That is despite the fact that, impressive though Bahrain may have been, he will probably not re-appear in the dark grey car in China. "I know," said Vandoorne. "It's part of my job as reserve driver and I knew that before I started. I don't know if I will get another chance but I hope that my work throughout the weekend will encourage the team to use my services again in the future."
Another impressive youngster in Bahrain was the Mercedes-backed Pascal Wehrlein, who aced qualifying in his Manor and featured on the TV images throughout Sunday's race. "I will definitely have to watch the replay as I've heard that I was quite often on the screen," the German grinned. "The fact that we were able to overtake Force India and Sauber was amazing and so much fun," Wehrlein told the German broadcaster Sky. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing