In silly season news that isn’t entirely surprising (for a change!), Vandoorne is on his way out of McLaren at the end of the season. He joined McLaren’s junior programme in 2013, won the GP2 title in 2015 and although it took him a while to find a seat, he started off his F1 career with some impressive performances.
This year, however, things have taken a bit of a downturn, failing to score any points since Baku and has been outqualified by Fernando Alonso in every race so far. He said in a statement:
“I’m very grateful to McLaren for investing their faith in me over the past five years. While we haven’t achieved the success we’d all hoped for, I’ve really enjoyed the past two seasons racing for McLaren and I have a great relationship with everyone in the team.
“My time at McLaren has been a great chapter in my career and I’m thankful for the opportunity the team, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa and Mansour Ojjeh have given me to gain valuable Formula 1 experience and develop as a driver. I intend to give it my all for the remaining seven races of this season, and will announce my plans for next season in due course.”
McLaren CEO Zak Brown said:
“We’re immensely thankful for Stoffel’s dedication, hard work and commitment during his time at McLaren. He’s a talented racing driver with an incredible list of accolades in his junior career. We’re proud to have played a part in his break into Formula 1, from his role as test driver to his fantastic points-scoring debut in Bahrain in 2016.”
“It’s clear we haven’t provided Stoffel with the tools to show his true talent, but throughout our relationship he’s proved to be a fantastic team player. His work ethic is impressive, he has a great reputation within the team and we’ve really enjoyed working with him.”
McLaren has yet to announce who his replacement will be, although recent rumours seem to suggest Sergio Perez could well be Carlos Sainz’s teammate at the Woking squad for 2019.
As for Vandoorne? Toro Rosso is a possibility and potentially Sauber too. Who knows? After all, the 2018 silly season has been a particularly silly one…