McLaren may not be Stoffel Vandoorne's only option to step up into a full-time race cockpit for 2017. The Belgian, strongly backed by the British team, made an impressive debut recently in Bahrain, where Fernando Alonso sat out the race with chest injuries.
Spaniard Alonso is back in action this weekend, but 24-year-old Vandoorne, the reigning GP2 champion, made his point two weeks ago in Bahrain. "At this stage I don't think he (Vandoorne) has to prove anything more," McLaren team boss Eric Boullier said in China. "It's just a question of having an opportunity."
That opportunity could come in 2017, with reports suggesting F1 veteran Jenson Button might have to switch to Williams in order to continue his long career. "This year I was already close to a permanent race seat," Vandoorne told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "Right now it's too early to talk about 2017, but the coming months will be interesting," he said. "McLaren and some other teams have already expressed their interest in me."
Vandoorne's talent and potential is being mentioned in similar tones to that of Max Verstappen, who is from the Netherlands. Verstappen said it would be good for another driver from a Benelux country to shine in F1. "It would be nice if we can dominate as drivers from the Lage Landen (low countries)," the 18-year-old said, before smiling: "But with me first and Stoffel in second place." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing