McLaren CEO Zak Brown has thanked Stoffel Vandoorne for his years of service to the team, in the wake of the announcement that the Belgian driver will not race for them in 2019.
Vandoorne has scored just three points finishes in 2018, and has been thoroughly trounced by teammate Fernando Alonso. Having been knocked out in Q1 on several occasions, McLaren gave him a new chassis for Hungary in an attempt to rectify the slide. However, this doesn’t appear to have helped the Belgian’s form; emphasised by him finishing P20 in qualifying at Monza on Saturday.
Brown thanked Vandoorne in a statement: “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.”
With Vandoorne’s F1 form being completely at odds with his abilities in Formula 2 (where Vandoorne dominated en route to the 2015 title) and his successful year on hiatus in Japan in Super Formula as he waited for an F1 seat to open up, Brown said McLaren didn’t do enough to help him show his true form:
“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. Of course, we would have loved to achieve more success during our time together, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that he will always be a part of the McLaren family of grand prix drivers.”
“For now, we look to the future and to the remaining grands prix in 2018, where I know both Stoffel and Fernando will be pushing hard to fight for as many points as possible before we close the curtain on this season.
“We wish Stoffel all the best in whatever direction he chooses to take next in his career, and we’ll be supporting him all the way. We will announce our full driver line-up for the 2019 season in due course.”
Vandoorne is the latest in a line of young McLaren hopefuls to get the chop. Kevin Magnussen was dropped at the end of the 2014 season after one year alongside Jenson Button, while Sergio Perez was released after one year alongside Button at the end of 2013.