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‘Never any doubt’ for Vandoorne over 2018 McLaren F1 deal

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Stoffel Vandoorne says there was never any doubt over his 2018 McLaren Formula 1 deal given the confidence the team has shown in him despite a rocky start to his first full year in the sport.

Vandoorne stepped up to a full-time race seat with McLaren for 2017 following Jenson Button’s move back from F1, but the Belgian has recorded just one points finish so far this season.

Ongoing problems with McLaren’s Honda power unit have left Vandoorne struggling to make an impact, with teammate Fernando Alonso leading the team’s charge.

McLaren confirmed earlier this week that Vandoorne would be racing for the team “as planned” in 2018, with the Belgian claiming there were never any question marks over his plans for next year.

“No, there never has been any doubt. The team has been really supportive in the difficult times,” Vandoorne said.

“Obviously I’ve been with McLaren for the past couple of years as a young driver and then as a reserve driver, so they know my capabilities.

“They know the effort I’m putting in with the team and it’s good to see that the team is 100 per cent behind me and I’m definitely looking forward to the future with them.”

Vandoorne did not sugar-coat McLaren’s start to the season, but is confident of a better back-stretch starting with this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

“For us, it’s not been a great start to the season, especially with all the trackside problems we have,” Vandoorne said.

“We missed quite a lot of track time, but lately everything has gone in a good direction. Felt more and more comfortable with the car, with the handling suiting a little bit better my style as well.

“The last races have been positive. I’m matching very close with Fernando in qualifying and in the races as well.

“I’m definitely sure that the second part of the season will go in a good direction again.”

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.