© Getty Images

Vandoorne confirms McLaren test and reserve role for 2016

Leave a comment

GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne has confirmed that he will take up a test and reserve role with parent team McLaren for the 2016 Formula 1 season.

Vandoorne wrapped up the GP2 championship in Russia last month, but missed out on a possible seat with McLaren in F1 after the team opted to retain veteran driver Jenson Button for 2016.

Given that GP2 champions are not permitted to return to the series, Vandoorne looked poised for a year on the sidelines much like current McLaren reserve Kevin Magnussen experienced in 2015 unless he took one of the remaining seats with Manor at the back of the F1 grid.

In an interview with McLaren’s official website, Vandoorne confirmed that he would be taking up the reserve role with McLaren for 2016 in place of the outgoing Magnussen, but is also working on a deal to keep racing.

“I definitely want to race something next year, but what it will be we don’t know yet,” Vandoorne said. “There’s definitely some options though, and we’re talking about them.

“I’m going to be test and reserve driver at McLaren anyway, which is a good position to be in. Obviously I want to race something next year as well, to say sharp, to stay fit, and to stay focused, so we’ll see what comes out.

“And if you stay sharp, fit and focused, then if any opportunity arises in F1 you’re 100 percent ready to jump in.”

Vandoorne is set to test a Super Formula car ahead of a possible race seat in Japan’s leading single seater series to complement his McLaren reserve duties.

“I’ll be doing a Super Formula test in Japan soon. The Super Formula car is definitely a good car – it’s at least as quick as a GP2 car or maybe even quicker.

“As I say, as I’m McLaren’s test and reserve driver next year, but I want to keep racing alongside that, and I think Super Formula is one of the options, but it’s not decided yet whether I’m going to do it or not.”

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
1 Comment

Earlier on Monday, Tequila Patron, a long-time sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both at the team level – they have a long standing partnership with Tequila Patron ESM – and the series level, announced that they will be ending their sponsorships at the end of the 2018 season.

After sponsoring Highcroft Racing in 2008 and 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, Tequila Patron and ESM formed a partnership in 2010 to launch their own team. Since then, they have scored overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans. They have also competed internationally, in both Prototype and GT categories.

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said team co-owner Scott Sharp via a team release.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of (Patron CEO and ESM co-founder) Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world! We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain!”

IMSA President Scott Atherton also expressed gratitude toward Patron for their long-time involvement.

“IMSA and Patron Spirits have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for more than a decade. Tequila Patron rose through the IMSA ranks, from a high-profile team sponsor with Patron Highcroft Racing beginning in 2008, through its entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge starting in 2009, and its presenting sponsorship of the American Le Mans Series beginning in 2010,” Atherton detailed.

He continued, “Tequila Patron continued in a prominent position as the American Le Mans Series merged with GRAND-AM to create the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and has been our entitlement partner for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup since 2014 in addition to its longstanding support of the Tequila Patron ESM race team and its pair of Nissan DPi race cars.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year. On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patron for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patron among our family of premium brand partners.”

Team co-owner Scott Sharp, in a story posted on SportsCar365, asserted that the ESM team has every intention of continuing in 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp said. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong. The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”

Follow@KyleMLavigne