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Vandoorne felt 2017 was ‘last chance’ to get F1 seat

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Stoffel Vandoorne believes that 2017 was his “last chance” to make the step up to Formula 1 with McLaren after spending the past two years waiting in the wings for a seat.

McLaren announced over the Italian Grand Prix weekend that Vandoorne would be moving into a full-time race seat for 2017 alongside Fernando Alonso following Jenson Button’s decision to take a sabbatical.

Vandoorne had been knocking on McLaren’s door for a seat for some time, particularly after winning the GP2 title in 2015.

The Belgian got his F1 debut in Bahrain when Alonso was injured, scoring a point, but was otherwise left to spend the remainder of the year racing in the Japanese Super Formula series.

“I don’t know what discussions were going on behind the scenes, but I remember a year ago when I was finishing GP2 that, of course, there were a lot of rumours around that I might get the drive already for 2016,” Vandoorne explained to the official F1 website.

“It didn’t happen back then, but yes, I remember all the hype surrounding it. And to be honest I was a little disappointed at the beginning – it was a tough moment for me to understand that F1 would have to wait another year.

“But I kept my head cool and won the last two GP2 races that season and actually broke the record in that series. I knew it was best to give the answer on the track.

“Sure, time is always pressing in a driver’s career, so I knew it had to be next year – as it was probably my last chance of getting to F1.”

Vandoorne said that it was a “big relief” to be confirmed in a McLaren seat for 2017, believing his preparation to have been served in junior championships.

“I have spent so much time with this team already and had a lot of success already in the junior series,” Vandoorne said.

“The team has really been preparing me for Formula 1 for years – and now we both want to get rewarded.

“This is an environment where you have to perform and I am used to that demand. So no surprises in that respect.

“I had to win championships to move forward, otherwise I would not be here. You might say that I grew up in a pressure environment.

“Yes, F1 is a bit more in every respect, but I have enough self-confidence to know that I can handle it.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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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.