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.”