McLaren confirm Stoffel Vandoorne will be retained for 2018 Formula 1 season

Belgian racer Vandoorne, in his first full season, will again drive for McLaren in 2018, "as was intended."

McLaren confirm Stoffel Vandoorne will be retained for 2018 Formula 1 season
Stoffel Vandoorne will continue at McLaren in 2018, and has been branded as a future world champion. (Image Credit: Andrej Isakovic/Getty Images)

McLaren have announced that Stoffel Vandoorne will stay with the Woking based Formula 1 team for a second full season in 2018.

25-year-old Vandoorne was promoted to a full-time race seat for the 2017 season, alongside Fernando Alonso after the retirement of Jenson Button.

He said: “I’m delighted that the team has now formally announced that I will continue to race for them next year, because I’ll be able to approach the second half of my rookie season with total focus on the job in hand: namely getting the very most I can out of my car and my engineers.

Vandoorne, the 2015 GP2 champion has scored one point this season in the first 11 races as McLaren seek to overcome their well-publicised troubles with engine partner, Honda.

In addition to the one point he scored in Hungary, Vandoorne also finished 10th while standing in for the injured Alonso in the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix.

He out-qualified Button in that race, and out-qualified Alonso for the first time in ’17 at the British Grand Prix, starting eighth on the grid, while Alonso was last due an engine penalty. 

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Long-term planning

Eric Boullier, McLaren’s Racing Director, said: “When we announced at the end of 2016 that Stoffel would be a McLaren Honda race driver in 2017, we indicated that our plan was that he’d race for us for a number of years.

“That plan hasn’t changed, and I’m very happy therefore to be able to confirm that he’ll continue to race for us next season.

“Like all rookies, he’s had a lot to learn in the first half season of his first Formula 1 season, but we have great confidence in him, and he’s getting better and better all the time.”

The identity of Vandoorne’s team-mate for 2018 has yet to be confirmed, with Alonso’s three-year contract due to expire at the end of the season.

Alonso has grown frustrated at Honda’s inability to provide a competitive engine thus far, and has said that “if McLaren are winning by September” he will stay with the team.

Both Mercedes and Ferrari have ruled out supplying McLaren leaving a Renault deal or sticking with Honda as the Woking outfit’s only choices.