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Vandoorne: GP2 triumphs have put me in McLaren frame

09 Jul 2015

McLaren junior Stoffel Vandoorne believes his record-breaking performances in GP2 this season have put him firmly in the frame should a potential Formula One drive with the team become available next year.

Vandoorne, 23, leads the 2015 GP2 Series by almost 70 points, having claimed four victories and eight podiums - in addition to a record-breaking streak of six consecutive poles - from the opening 10 races.

“There is not much more I can do at the moment,” said the Belgian of his F1 prospects during a McLaren-Honda phone-in. “I am trying to the best as possible every race, every qualifying, every practice - every time I get in the car. That is ultimately what puts me in the best position for the future.”

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button form McLaren’s current race line-up, but there has been plenty of media speculation about 2016, in particular over whether Button will be retained. The team also have Kevin Magnussen waiting in the wings, but Vandoorne says he is ready to step up should the call come.

“I tested an F1 car last year with McLaren and that went very well,” he commented. “I drove the car in Austria [testing, earlier this month] and that was very smooth - unfortunately it rained in the morning and we lost some track time, but the afternoon was a very decent session without any troubles. So yes, I do feel ready.”

For now, Vandoorne insists his primary focus is winning the GP2 title. Nevertheless he remains in regular contact with McLaren racing director Eric Boullier and McLaren Chairman Ron Dennis, and is spending plenty of time in the team’s F1 simulator.

“It has been very good learning for me,” he said. “Being part of the McLaren drivers’ programme, it is one part that helps to prepare the driver for the next step really. To be involved with that - to work in the simulator and to work closely with the engineers - is a very good learning school for me.”

He also conceded, however, that despite his McLaren links, with such intense competition for Formula One seats, there are no givens for next season.

“We know it is a very competitive sport at the moment, and even if I win the [GP2] championship this year there is no guarantee that I will be in F1 next year,” he added. “I am certainly trying my best and pushing really hard for it, and I really hope to be there next year.”