McLaren junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne reckons he is ready to step up to Formula 1 in 2015.
Vandoorne, in his first year racing for ART in the GP2 series, starred in a race long battle with Ferrari academy racer Raffaelle Maricello during a dramatic wet feature race at Spa on Saturday, before eventually coming home second to the Italian, which he followed up with sixth in the sprint race on Sunday.
The Belgian, who won his maiden GP2 race at the season opener in Bahrain, has been in fine form in recent rounds, securing a double podium finish in Germany, while recording a sprint race victory in Hungary, to move into third in the drivers’ championship.
In light of these recent performances, and owing to the test mileage he completed with McLaren at the in-season tests at Barcelona and Silverstone, the ..-year-old says he is ready to make the step up to Formula 1.
“I feel ready,” Vandoorne told AUTOSPORT. “I’ve done a year of World Series [Formula Renault 3.5], I’m in my second year of high-powered cars in GP2 now, and I’ve been testing the McLaren F1 car this year.
“You progress every year really, especially this year. It’s probably the season I’m [most] involved in the technical side, which is very important with all the changes in Formula 1.
“GP2 is complex with the tyres, which is similar to F1, as well as setting up the car. It’s a very good feeder series and preparation for F1.”
However, McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says the Woking-based outfit has no intention of simply placing the Belgian youngster in a F1 seat for the sake of it, explaining that the team has not ruled out the idea of Vandoorne spending a second season in GP2 next year.
“It is a little bit too early to take a decision,” Boullier said during a McLaren phone-in. “I think if you have to go to F1, first he needs to feel ready, and I am happy that he feels ready. He also needs the opportunity to step into F1, but not in any condition.
“We are assessing all scenarios. I think GP2 is one of them, as he still has to learn more about GP2, get more wins and obviously fight for the championship.
“He is doing a good job for the first year,” added the Frenchman. “You can see really clear progress over the last few races.
“He is very dedicated and I am happy to see he is getting there – but it is too early to have plans, so everything is open.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic