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Vandoorne lands McLaren reserve role 23 Jan 2014

Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL). FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy Selection Event, Melk, Austria, 8 February 2011. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) Fortec Motorsports. Formula Renault 3.5 Series, Rd3, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 23-26 May 2013.

McLaren Young Driver Programme member Stoffel Vandoorne has been confirmed as McLaren’s official Formula One reserve driver for 2014, a position previously held by Gary Paffett. Vandoorne will combine his F1 testing duties with a full competitive season in the GP2 Series with the ART team.

The news follows an impressive 2013 campaign for the 21-year-old Belgian in which he was narrowly beaten to the Formula Renault 3.5 series title in his rookie season by McLaren’s new 2014 race driver, Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen.

“I’m thrilled and honoured to have been selected by McLaren Mercedes to be the team’s Formula One reserve driver for 2014,” said Vandoorne. “Equally, I’m really excited to have been selected to race for the ART GP2 team for 2014.

“I’ve been a member of the McLaren Young Driver Programme for almost a year now, and I’ve learned an enormous amount in that time. I visit the McLaren Technology Centre [MTC] at least once a week, sometimes more often than that, and I’ve done a lot of work in the MTC simulator to assist McLaren’s Formula One engineers develop the new-for-2014 MP4-29 Formula One car.

“Equally, I’ve worked very hard on my physical and mental fitness over the past year, and the McLaren Young Driver Programme has been absolutely fantastic in that respect. The guys at Woking really know how to prepare a driver for Formula One, and I’ve really enjoyed working with them. I still do.”

Commenting on Vandoorne’s promotion, McLaren sporting director Sam Michael said: “Stoffel is a truly excellent young driver - fast, combative, consistent, intelligent and ambitious - and he’s already made an excellent impression on all at McLaren during the year he’s spent as a member of the McLaren Young Driver Programme.

“His technical input is first-class, he’s excellent in our simulator, and he isn’t afraid of hard work. He has a collaborative and engaging manner, and he’s therefore as popular at McLaren as he is helpful.”

Vandoorne, who was Formula Renault 2.0 Euro champion in 2012, concluded: “I plan to take my responsibilities as McLaren Mercedes’ official Formula One reserve driver very seriously indeed, since I very much enjoy immersing myself in the technical aspects of Formula One Grand Prix weekends. I’ll do whatever I can to help the team’s two Formula One race drivers, Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen, both of whom are great guys and superb drivers, to achieve as much as they possibly can this season.”

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