Stoffel Vandoorne says he’s close to securing a race drive in Japanese Super Formula, which will dovetail with his role as McLaren third driver this year.
Thanks to Honda 2o15 GP2 champion Vandoorne tested at Suzuka last year, and he enjoyed the experience.
“We’re still working on it at the moment,” he said today. “It’s no secret that it’s going in that direction. There’s still talks between McLaren and Honda, but I’m confident that the deal will happen soon. If everything goes in that direction it will be a very busy year for me, being a McLaren reserve driver, going to all the Grands Prix, spending a lot of time in the simulator, being a lot at the factory with the engineers. It will be a very good preparation for 2017.
“I think it is still important to race something at least. It keeps you race sharp, it keeps you race fit, it gives you something to work for during the year as well. Even if Super Formula is not that many races a year, it’s better than doing nothing. The cars are really quick. I tested one of them at the end of November last year. I had a first taste of it in Suzuka. They have great cornering speeds, which is a good preparation for 2017.”
Vandoorne admitted that next season is still an open book as far as McLaren is concerned: “Nothing has been promised, obviously, but I’m working my way towards F1. That’s definitely where I want to be. I already wanted to be there this year. I feel 100% ready to be there. Unfortunately there were no places available this season, so I have to work towards 2017, and get the best preparation possible.
“I feel I’m in the right place. McLaren really trust in my ability. There’s no guarantees obviously for 2017, but it would be a good place for me to be here, to race with the team. I’ve been with them for a couple of years now, we’ve had a lot of success together, and hopefully we can build on that success in the future. And hopefully I can get a race drive here.”