Stoffel Vandoorne sets sights on 2017 McLaren F1 seat

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Stoffel Vandoorne has set his sights on securing a seat in Formula 1 with McLaren for the 2017 season, but concedes that he may explore other options if a role is not freed up.

Vandoorne won last year’s GP2 title in emphatic fashion, racking up seven victories to win the championship with almost double the score of nearest rival Alexander Rossi.

For 2016, Vandoorne will move to Japan to race in Super Formula in order to keep him race-ready and sharp ahead of a possible F1 promotion next year.

Vandoorne said that he is targeting a seat in F1 for 2017, ideally with McLaren, but remains focused on the coming year and proving himself in Super Formula.

“It’s still a bit early days, we’re only at the start of 2016,” Vandoorne said. “But yeah obviously during the course of the season I’ll have to focus on 2017, and that’s definitely the time where I want to be in Formula 1.

“Hopefully that will be with McLaren, that’s where I would very much like to be. I’m contracted to them as well.

“But yeah, if there’s no space here, then if there are any other options available, then I have to consider them.

“But at the moment it’s still too early to know anything about that.”

Vandoorne said that he feels like he is stepping into unknown territory by entering Super Formula, but is confident that it is the right move to ensure he is still sharp and keeps racing through 2016.

“I feel like I’m stepping a little bit into the unknown,” Vandoorne said. “However I feel I have a good team around me, it’s Docomo Team Dandelion, it’s one of the best Honda teams. They’ve had good results in the past and I feel that’s the right place to be with the support of Honda.

“Obviously it’s a big championship. There’s quite a few big names, European guys as well, quite a few good Japanese drivers who have been there for a long time, and I think that makes it very tough to go in there and beat them from the word go.

“It’s going to be a tough ask but I’ll do my work as usual which I’ve done in every other series. What the result will be is very difficult to say but the main thing is that I can drive something this year and really be prepared for 2017.”