Jenson Button’s decision to take a year off racing in F1 in 2017 allowed McLaren to promote Vandoorne from his reserve driver role, with the highly-regarded Belgian having replaced the injured Alonso for this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Paired alongside the Spaniard next season, Vandoorne told F1i the direct comparison can only be a good thing for his reputation.
“It’s good to have Fernando next to me because everybody rates him very highly, probably one of the quickest guys in Formula One and every time he’s out on track he just delivers all the time,” Vandoorne said during an exclusive interview.
“It’s good to get that benchmark. I think for me it’s good to be alongside him because if I fare well it’s going to be good for my career as well.”
And despite Button having an option to return with McLaren in 2018, Vandoorne says having a world champion as the team’s reserve driver next season does not bring any added pressure.
“When you’re in Formula One, no matter what the circumstances are you always have to do a good job and I don’t expect anything different next year. I will just be focusing on doing the job, dong the best I can, working hard for the team, pushing everybody forward and I think this is the most important thing. Whatever the results will be is difficult to tell at the moment but we’ll make the most of it.”