© Getty Images

Vandoorne: Getting a point in Bahrain ‘a bonus’ on F1 debut

1 Comment

Stoffel Vandoorne made the most of his surprise Formula 1 debut in Bahrain by finishing 10th to pick up a solitary point for McLaren, the team’s first of the season.

Reserve driver Vandoorne flew overnight from Japan to Bahrain on Thursday after Fernando Alonso was ruled out of the race weekend due to a fractured rib sustained in Australia two weeks ago.

The Belgian driver qualified 12th on Saturday, and enjoyed a spirited drive in the race to battle his way to 10th place at the checkered flag.

Vandoorne pulled off fine overtaking moves on Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg among others, and told NBCSN after the race he felt comfortable behind the wheel of the McLaren MP4-31.

“Very good to come away with one point this wekend,” Vandoorne said.

“Today the focus was on operationally making no mistakes and bringing the car home. That’s what I managed to do. Getting a point was a bonus.

“I felt very confident and comfortable in the car. I knew I did something good. Today was a good finish on the weekend.”

Vandoorne became the 64th driver in the history of F1 to score points on debut, but said he was not thinking about the records or enormity of his achievement.

“I still don’t realize what I’ve done! Trying to enjoy the moment,” Vandoorne said.

“This weekend has been a success on the whole. It’s never been easy to jump in a car without any testing in the season.

“My first Formula 1 race, first race would be tricky to do, but I coped with the pressure that came with it. Just to finish and then finish 10th.”

Vandoorne may yet be drafted in for the Chinese Grand Prix in two weeks’ time should Alonso not be fit enough, but the Belgian was just grateful for the opportunity he received in Bahrain.

“I don’t know yet,” he said when asked if he’d be racing in China.

“It’s not up to me to decide that. Just be happy about the one shot this weekend and go from there.”

Vandoorne now sits above both Alonso and teammate Jenson Button in the drivers’ championship, with the latter retiring early on in Bahrain.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.