Stoffel Vandoorne: Former McLaren driver fighting at the top of Formula E

27-04-2021 18:00 | Updated: 27-04-2021 18:53
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Stoffel Vandoorne: Former McLaren driver fighting at the top of Formula E

Yesterday we had a look at Formula E leader Nyck De Vries and his path to the top of Formula E, but now it’s his teammate's turn. Stoffel Vandoorne sits behind his Mercedes teammate at the top of the Formula E Driver Standings and will look to challenge the Dutch driver to win his first Championship in the sport. However, it hasn’t been an easy path to the top.

The Belgian driver found himself in Formula 1 in 2016 and stayed in the sport until 2018, but never had major success, like those around him. He was replaced by Lando Norris at McLaren ahead of the 2019 season and since, has not regained the opportunity fully.

However, this hasn’t hampered his success in Formula E. The 29-year-old is in his third season and made a major step up in Season 6, when he joined Mercedes, and finished only behind Antonio Felix Da Costa and second in the Drivers Standings. He currently sits behind De Vries at the top of the standings, forming a strong partnership ahead of Sam Bird and Jaguar, who are chasing behind.

Struggles in Formula 1

Joining the McLaren Young Driver Programme in 2013 was just the start of a hoped long-career in F1 for Vandoorne, but it never materialised. He made his debut in 2016, filling in for Fernando Alonso, at the Bahrain Grand Prix, qualifying ahead of his teammate, Jenson Button, in 12th place. He finished the race in 10th place, becoming the first reserve driver to score on his debut since Sebastian Vettel in 2007. He was also one of only five drivers to score on their debut in the hybrid era.

His full rookie season wasn’t as successful and neither was his final F1 season the following year. The very uncompetitive McLaren car didn’t play into the hands of Vandoorne and Alonso, as the duo only combined for a total of 30 points, gaining 13 and 17 respectively. The Belgian scored his points in Hungary, Malaysia and Singapore. However, a DNS and five DNF’s didn’t help his case and hampered his scoring that season.

The 2018 season was even more of a struggle and ended Vandoorne’s three-year tenure in F1. He was still paired alongside Alonso but was unable to match the Spaniard’s production in the more competitive McLaren. He scored 12 points, with a career-best finish of eighth in Bahrain and Mexico. At the end of the season, he joined HWA Racelab after McLaren announced that Vandoorne would leave F1.

Reserve driver for Mercedes and McLaren

Alongside De Vries, he was called up in 2020 to fill in as Mercedes reserve drivers for the season. Vandoorne was also active for the F1 team in 2019 when he was named as simulator driver for the season. This year, the Formula E duo may be in F1 action, as they are reserve drivers for both Mercedes and McLaren.

Can he complete the next step in Formula E?

Only three weeks after racing in F1, Vandoorne made his debut with HWA Racelab in the Ad Diriyah E-Prix and finished 17th. He claimed his first pole position four rounds later in Hong Kong but a DNF ended his race early. Despite being a rookie, he still achieved a podium that season. A third place finish in Rome in Round 7 secured Vandoorne his first FE trophy. 

He made the switch to Mercedes for Season 6 of Formula E and had a superb year, finishing second overall in the Driver Standings when the season was cut short. He won the season-finale in Berlin, after claiming pole position earlier on in the day. A strong season was on show from the start for the Belgian, as he claimed two podiums in the first two races of the season, both third-place finishes.

So far this season, Vandoorne has been one of the stars. He currently sits on 47 points and has helped Mercedes gain a 23 point lead over Jaguar Racing at the top of the Team Standings. A win in Rome in Round 4 and a third-place last weekend in Valencia in Round 5, has secured his seat at the top of the grid ahead of the Monaco E-Prix next month.

Will Stoffel Vandoorne be able to one-up his teammate and be on top of the Driver Standings in Germany in August? Let us know in the comments!

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