Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Singapore, 2018

Vandoorne awaiting explanation from McLaren for why he was dropped

2019 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Stoffel Vandoorne says McLaren hasn’t told him why he has been dropped from their Formula 1 line-up for 2019.

McLaren announced last week Vandoorne’s contract with the team will not be renewed for the 2019 F1 season. His place has been taken by Lando Norris.

Vandoorne says he “respects the decision” by the team but doesn’t understand it. “There hasn’t been a clear explanation why,” he said. “I think that’s probably a question for them to see their exact strategy for the future.”

The 26-year-old has had two difficult seasons at McLaren with an uncompetitive car and a very strong team mate in Fernando Alonso. Vandoorne believes people in F1 understand the circumstances of his departure from the team.

“I feel a lot of support from people high up in the Formula 1 paddock,” he said. “People realise what the situation here at McLaren.

“Ask Kevin [Magnussen], he’s been in a kind of similar situation I would say. I think he really benefited from having a fresh start. It’s something I’m quite looking forward to as well, having a fresh start and seeing what the future holds.”

Vandoorne said he’s “spoken to many people” about finding a drive for next year but admitted he was puzzled by McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown’s comment about recommending him to Toro Rosso. “It’s a bit strange to see that comment when he let me go,” he said.

However Vandoorne remains thankful towards the team which gave him his F1 debut. “McLaren was there very early in my career,” he said. “In a way they’ve made part of my career as well because they helped me through GP2 and Japan and gave me the opportunity to race in Formula 1 as well. I will always be grateful for the opportunity I’ve had.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

33 comments on “Vandoorne awaiting explanation from McLaren for why he was dropped”

  1. They think Sainz is better than you and Norris is, at least, as good as you but can be much better . That’s all.

    1. Sainz and Norris Bring money (sponsors) that’s why.

      1. Sainz had to bring something, because his pace and talent are overrated. Sincr he got to F1 he only managed to beat Kvyat.

        1. I believe that if McLaren didn’t promote Norris before then end of September (take the option in his contract), Norris would be freed from his McLaren contract (free agent) and would have been easily picked up by Red Bull who wanted him in a TR. McLaren would lose face (again after building crap cars) by losing one of it’s more talented drivers to a rival team. Therefor they took the option on Norris, but already having signed Sainz they had to let Stoffel go.

          Sainz doesn’t impress me this year against Hulkenberg, so you have to think hard why they signed him? Spanish sponsormoney? Did Alonso do any favours for his fellow countryman?

          1. Is it possible for Mclaren to lose face further?

      2. @Bushi84 Not really, though. Definitely not Norris, and Sainz can’t really be regarded as a ‘pay-driver’ either. He, after all, got to F1 by Red Bull, a brand that bases their driver choices purely on driving competence rather than money.

  2. Well, I honestly think even a driver like Stroll would be able to out qualify a top driver like Hamilton once or twice in 19 sessions. That is how long including last year it has been since Vandoorne outqualified Alonso. That was in Singapore last year, which we are approaching again now. That is a long, long time ago!! So, if you think about it, it has been very nearly a full year since Vandoorne last outqualified Alonso. You have to say that is pretty poor. Then recent performances like in germany, he qualified last, and last in the most recent 2 weekends too. Yes, he has looked better than Alonso once in the race this year. But that is just once. Alonso may be a top driver, but Vandoorne should do better than this if he’s actually as capable as some claim. I think I would rate him right near the back of the grid. Ericsson actually is looking better than him this year to me. Only 2 points behind him. And Alonso is up there with 44, over 5 times more. I think the reason why McLaren haven’t kept his will be because he just hasn’t been fast enough. But despite this, I think it will have been better to keep him, rather than having a rookie and another driver that isn’t used to the team. I also wouldn’t consider Sainz as a top driver. I don’t think the team is going to be that strong with this line up next year if I’m honest.

    1. Overall agree, except stroll was soooooooo far behind a capable but not top driver such as massa that hamilton even on a bad day would outqualify stroll.

      Vandoorne may be bad but I don’t see stroll doing better at least in qualifying!

    2. @thegianthogweed one thing to remember though is that we’ve seen that Alonso is able to drive a bad car well beyond it’s capabilities. I believe that only a handful of drivers can do that so there may be more to Vandoorne’s record against Alonso than just looking at the numbers.

    3. @thegianthogweed It was Malaysia actually. Alonso out-qualified him in Singapore last season.

    4. even a driver like Stroll would be able to out qualify a top driver like Hamilton once or twice in 19 sessions

      I pretty much doubt that, @thegianthogweed.
      Though I agree with the essence of what you say – that Vandoorne wasn’t able to surpass Alonso and that some drivers would have been able to do so at least once – the driver you chose is an absolute unknown quantity at best, and my personal feeling is that he is not F1 material.

      I think Stroll would have been a lot further away from Alonso than Vandoorne has ever been. I mean, Vandoorne has been closer to Alonso than Raikkonen or Massa (in 2010-2011 at least). Massa, the ‘average’ (not my opinion) driver who absolutely trashed Stroll in 2017.

      So I think your example is quite detrimental to what you were wanting to say.

      1. Remember that Hamilton last year made a big mistake in qualifying in Monaco and Brazil. It is very likely Stroll would have beaten him in Brazil at least. And the year before, he crashed in Baku. my pint of 1once or twice in 19 sessions still has a good point I think. But then I guess you could argue that Alonso doesn’t tend to make these mistakes in qualifying. So I guess that does go against my own point a bit.

  3. How about being light years away from your team mate every weekend? Or repeatedly out-qualified by a couple pay drivers struggling with a flawed car the past few races? Or failing to show even the slightest spark of overtaking or racing talent on any given Sunday? Or just being the most utterly boring driver on the grid?

    Sorry, might sound harsh, but Stoffel hasn’t shown me any reason to believe he is a future F1 champion.

    1. You forget Alonso has had preferential treatment with upgrades and replacement parts. Stoffel was driving worse than a dog

    2. Wait, how is .2 seconds average difference “light years” away? Raikkonen, Grosjean and Massa ALL did worse than that when they were Alonso’s team mates, but no one questioned these guys back then, just because they could outqualify Alonso only a couple of times. Well, I’d say average pace deficit tells more.
      It’s been damn cruel for Stoffel, his years at McLaren, having to prove himself in a car that was built for someone with a very different driving style, and that “someone” is also one of the best racers ever, and that “someone” always has the better updates on the car.
      Vandoorne’s career was doomed to fail that way, and I really hate guys like you not seeing that.

      1. This guy probably forgot that that car is AWFUL. Alonso is 11th on the standings with it.
        It’s probably the worst car Mclaren designed in a long time, even worse than the previous ones with Honda power, that at least had it as an excuse for their lack of top speed and reliability.

        This one is slow all around even with a decent PU on its back. Alonso barely can score points with it, and Stoffel obviously can’t, being behind him. Totally unfair.

      2. I have to agree with you g. Almost every weekend I’ve seen Vandoorne has been really close to Alonso. Definitely respectable given the POS McLaren, Alonso’s likely preferential treatment and having 15 years less F1 experience than Alonso.

        FIF. TEEN. YEARS. 0.2 seconds. Think about that.

  4. Unfortunately, previous success and loyalty means nothing in F1. I hope Vandoorne and Ocon land on their feet.

  5. I would have ponied up for a pay per view shoot out between Vandoorne and all comers. Practice, quali and one or two races with the winner getting the seat. Maybe that’s a way for smaller teams to generate some revenue or at least allow them to put the best driver in a car rather than a pay driver.

  6. If daddy is not a tycoon, you no longer have a seat in the spoiled boys club.
    That is F1 today.
    Let’s all just get over it and look a little more at the technology so we don’t have to linger on which brat gets what toys.

    1. If daddy is not a tycoon, you no longer have a seat in the spoiled boys club.
      That is F1 today.

      That’s literally 1 of the 20 drivers. Hardly sums up F1.

  7. He was up against Alonso – a guy who shapes a team round himself, will have obviously steered all car development to his own driving style, who had priority on everything. Oh, and who is one of the greatest drivers to ever sit in an F1 car, in part due to his expertise at driving around problems in sub-standard cars.

    Most of his fellow ‘stars of the future’ have had to contend with team-mates who aren’t even average on the current grid.

    Had Vandoorne followed a different path to F1 and performed at exactly the same level he has so far, he might have spent 2018 totally dominating Brendon Hartley or Marcus Ericsson, and would now be heading for Red Bull or Ferrari… while Gasly or Leclerc would be getting dropped by McLaren, having had their confidence shot to pieces.

    I do hope this isn’t the end for him in F1, because I still believe he could turn out extremely good.

    1. I totally agree. Maybe the change in management will have an effect but if I was a driver coming into F1 next year, Mclaren is the last team I’d want to be joining.

    2. Beautifully summarised @neilosjames.

      I can’t believe someone that was regarded so highly and showed so much promise could suddenly become so bad without reason. I hope he gets a chance to shine in a different team. (But not at the expense of Ocon)

      1. I agree with all the above. Let’s not forget also that McLaren decided to spend FP1&2 on testing rather than race preparation which would impact a young driver more than Alonso. I was shocked when I heard Stoffel say that they didn’t even try to setup the car for Spa (could have been due to the accident with Bottas but even then that would have been very late) or when he had his chassis problem in Silverstone and said “the team gave me Alonso’s setup” which might not be adapted for him. As for at least the last 2 quali sessions priority was clearly on Alonso. In Spa, he had to do his quali lap on a second lap after giving tow to Alonso on the first. In Monza, he gave tow to Alonso. Yes, on the last try they seemed to have switched place but something probably went wrong as from what I saw (though from unverified sources) Alonso was one of the top high speed in quali while Stoffel was bottom.
        Also, I think Stoffel’s image is impacted by psychology. McLaren is still associated with a top team so many say he is doing terrible by being at the back in quali while this is just the place of the car. That’s the opposite for Leclerc at Sauber who is seen as driving an awful car and doing well but though I think Leclerc is good Ericsson has proven the car is probably better than the McLaren and Williams.
        A good example is Hungary, both Leclerc and Vandoorne ended up out in Q1 due to both of them not going for a last lap on an improving track. Nobody said anything about Leclerc but Vandoorne was once again criticised in the media.

        F1 doesn’t allow for a 1:1 comparison between all drivers and much of what we think about driver is perception. Is Stoffel just an average F1 driver and not a future world champion as we though after GP2 maybe but is he the worst on the grid I don’t think so. In the end, he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    3. @neilosjames Very well said, let’s hope some team in F1 thinks the same!!

  8. They probably will tell him the truth “we shot on our own feet when we split from Honda and we need money now. These guys bring it and you don’t, so we will have to drop you”.

  9. How awful, to be sacked and not to get a proper explanation why. Even if that explanation hurts, it needs to be heard for the driver to be able to move on properly. The driver needs to know whether the decision was completely out of his/her hands and, if not, what the specific points are that they can concentrate on improving in the future.

    1. Just because some of these guys are very young I don’t see why they should expect a ‘school report’…! People get fired/let-go from jobs all over the world, and rarely get told why.
      Basically the boss feels you could/should have done better, and thinks this other guy shows more potential…
      End of story…!
      I’m not saying it’s ‘nice’, or ‘fair’… It’s life… Grow up and stop whining, please.

  10. “Dear Zak, all conflicts of interest aside, why did you drop me in favour of a driver who you yourself manage?”

    (Admission of sour grapes: Lando is indeed a talented racer, but I am a Belgian, frustrated as h*ll with how McLaren has treated my fellow-countryman.)

  11. The only things McLaren seem to be good at these days are 1) hype and 2) ruining young drivers’ careers. If I were Norris right now, I’d be wishing they let the contract lapse so I could go to Toro Rosso.

Comments are closed.