RACE DEBRIEF

    It’s been a tough season for Stoffel Vandoorne. And with seven races of the 2018 season to go, McLaren have announced the Belgian will leave the squad at the end of the campaign…

    Vandoorne hasn’t scored points since the fourth race of the season as he struggled to get comfortable with the car and his tally of eight points leaves him 16th in the drivers’ standings, 36 points and five places behind team mate Fernando Alonso.

    On Monday morning, McLaren announced Vandoorne would depart, having joined their young driver programme in 2013. He was their test driver in 2014, stepped up to reserve in 2016 – where he scored a point on debut deputising for Alonso - and then became a race driver in 2017.

    “We’re immensely thankful for Stoffel’s dedication, hard work and commitment during his time at McLaren,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “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.

    “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.”

    Vandoorne added: “I’m very grateful to McLaren for investing their faith in me over the past five years. I joined McLaren as a young driver and have since seen my career progress within the team from Test and Development Driver to Reserve Driver and then to full-time race driver.

    “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.”

    Brown said McLaren will “announce our full driver line-up for the 2019 season in due course”. They currently have one seat available for 2019 alongside Carlos Sainz, who is joining the team in place of Alonso. At Monza, Brown said they have a shortlist of four drivers.

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