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Vandoorne: I maximised my opportunity

03 Apr 2016

Fernando Alonso stand-in Stoffel Vandoorne scored McLaren’s first point of the season on Sunday after a faultless drive to 10th place on his Grand Prix debut in Bahrain.

The young Belgian, who flew in at the last minute to deputise for his injured colleague, started 12th, stayed out of trouble on the incident-filled opening lap and then pulled off some confident passing moves as he drove cleanly and consistently to the chequered flag.

“This result was more or less what I expected - I maximised the opportunity and I’m quite satisfied,” said Vandoorne, who had not even tested this year’s McLaren prior to arriving in Sakhir.

“The start was a little bit difficult. There was debris left and right - it was pretty hectic in fact - and there was a lot of fighting throughout that opening lap.

“Since the beginning of the weekend, I’ve felt very confident in the car, and pretty comfortable that I could do a good job. I’m pleased that I didn’t make any mistakes operationally - I was really focusing on that side of things - and I came away with a point, which was a nice bonus.”

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier was full of praise for his team’s reserve driver, whose point brought some consolation after Jenson Button’s early retirement with a power unit issue.

“Stoffel did that remarkable and noteworthy thing: he scored a world championship point on his Formula One debut,” said Boullier.

“In so doing, he capped a very fine weekend, which began with a late call-up and a lengthy two-leg flight from Japan, and ended with what can only be described as a flawlessly mature performance.”

It remains to be seen whether Vandoorne, the reigning GP2 champion, will be back in the cockpit for the next round in China - Alonso will undergo further tests before confirming whether he will compete in Shanghai, following the rib and lung injuries he sustained in his Australian Grand Prix accident.

“This weekend was a big opportunity for me: I made the most of it, I showed what I’m capable of, and now I just need to wait and see what happens next,” concluded Vandoorne. “That’s not for me to decide - so let’s see what the future brings.”