Following the confirmation of Kimi Raikkonen seat in Ferrari yesterday, McLaren has announced that Stoffel Vandoorne will be retained as a driver for the 2018 Formula 1 season. The 2015 GP2 champion has been with McLaren since 2013 through their driver's program. Vandoorne got promoted to a full-time race seat when he replaced Jenson Button this season.
“When we announced at the end of 2016 that Stoffel would be a McLaren Honda race driver for 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," said Eric Boullier, racing director at McLaren.
Vandoorne has managed to show his capabilities as a Formula 1 driver as the current season continued to progress. In fact, the 25-year old Belgian managed to score his first point of the season at the previous race in Hungary. Prior to that, in 2016 he scored his first F1 point at the Bahrain Grand Prix when he temporarily replace his current teammate, Fernando Alonso.
"Echoing Eric’s words, I’d like to add only that I regard Stoffel as a super talent – a future Formula 1 world champion in fact – and that’s why I’ve always been adamant that he should race for us on a multi-year basis,” said Zak Brown, executive director of the McLaren Technology Group.
Despite his progress throughout the season, Vandoorne has had a diffcult season so far and is being overshadowed by teammate Fernando Alonso. However, Alono's future with McLaren is still uncertain given that the Spaniard is not impressed with Honda's problematic powertrain.