Vandoorne is GP2’s most dominant champion yet


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McLaren junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne has taken the most conclusive victory in the eleven-year history of Formula One’s leading feeder series GP2.

Vandoorne took a record seventh win this season on Saturday
Vandoorne won the title last month with four races to spare, and by the time the season ended last weekend he had taken more wins, points and podium finishers than any of his predecessors, among which are Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado.

Vandoorne finished second in his rookie season in the championship last year. He became champion having begun the year with fewer prior starts than any eventual champion since Hulkenberg won the title as a rookie in 2009.

He also scored 68% of a maximum total, comfortably beating the previous best of 54% set by Hamilton in 2006. He finished on the podium in over three-quarters of the races, again beating the previous record set by Hamilton.

But with both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button under contract for McLaren’s race team in 2016 there is no immediate opportunity for Vandoorne to move into F1 unless last weekend’s rumours of a sabbatical for Alonso turn out to be true.

Last week Vandoorne tested a Super Formula car ahead of a potential move into Japan’s leading single-seater championship. Former F1 drivers Kamui Kobayashi, Kazuki Nakajima, Narain Karthikeyan and Andre Lotterer competed in the series this year, along with McLaren’s engine supplier Honda.

YearChampionRacesPrior startsPointsPole PositionsWinsPodiums
2005Nico Rosberg2301204512
2006Lewis Hamilton2101141514
2007Timo Glock2120884510
2008Giorgio Pantano205776447
2009Nico Hulkenberg2001003510
2010Pastor Maldonado205287068
2011Romain Grosjean1840891510
2012Davide Valsecchi24722472410
2013Fabio Leimer2261201137
2014Jolyon Palmer22622763412
2015Stoffel Vandoorne2122341.54716


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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Vandoorne is GP2’s most dominant champion yet”

  1. If McLaren needed more proof sending him to super formula is wasting his time…

    He’s done the work, followed the path McLaren set out for him, and done so in impressive fashion. He’s ready as can be. Another year in Japan would do nothing for him. He should be in F1 by now. He’s already 24 after all.

    Promising careers are becoming as scarce as the logo’s on their F1 cars at McLaren…

  2. Makes it all the more ridiculous that he is not racing in F1 next year.

  3. Unbelievable that Vandoorne won’t be in F1 next year. It’s hard to understand that Mclaren weren’t capable of finding him a seat, even if it would be at Manor. With the enormous sums of money they/Honda are willing to spend on Alonso and Button in mind, surely they must be able to spend a couple of million on Vandoorne too, and buy him a seat?

    With the prospect of Manor being powered by Mercedes and in cooperation with Williams, it would be a decent learning setup for a rookie driver. That’s what Red Bull did with Daniel Ricciardo at first: put him at HRT and let him gain experience.

    Alonso and Button aren’t young anymore, Mclaren should have invested in their top rookie driver and make him ready to race. Instead Vandoorne’s only hope rests on Alonso not racing next year, and in that case he’ll get dropped in the deep being at Mclaren without experience, with amusingly ridiculous targets to meet just like Magnussen and to some extent Perez.

  4. Go Stoffel! As a belgian, I’m biased, but this kid is just unbelievable. What a season, a pleasure to watch, much better than F1! I missed more F1 live races than GP2 last year and this one.

    I really hope Alonso will take a sabbatical year and join him in a strong McLaren-Honda in 2017.

  5. Didn’t Hulkenberg win it in 2009? 2010 he drove for Williams

    1. @keithcollantine

      Glad to see ART Grand Prix taking their first title since Hulkenberg!

  6. Like many I don’t understand why McLaren hasn’t signed him to race next year.
    Sure they can use Button’s experience and will have thought they will need it with the struggles they have.
    But for the future it would be better to stick in Stoffel!

    His GP2 campaign was impressive, just look at his record, always at the top, never crashing always fast.
    And you can’t say it was a weak field with Gasly, Lynn, Marciello, Rossi etc.

    Plus what is very impressive and telling for a great driver (like Grosjean did with dams) is that he took a good team, that wasn’t up there anymore (since Pirelli I guess?) and made it a winning team once again.
    Also look at the difference with his teammate, impressive!
    He could have won the team championship on his own.

    He needs an F1 seat in 2016 (2017 the very last)

  7. mclaren really screwed themselves over. instead of signing him they have two old guys whose best days are behind them. mclaren have grown into a team i really dislike, simply because they don’t go for their young guns. it was already ridiculous of them to let magnussen go, now they have an even more impressive young man in their junior team and can’t put him anywhere he deserves to be.

    just from a financial point of view, it would make more sense to sign vandoorne. button and alonso cost them millions, whereas stoffel would be happy to get just one million.

    what vandoorne should do is leave mclarens junior team, land a manor seat and from there on, depending on his performance (which i don’t doubt would be excellent) big teams are going to approach him.

    i’m really furious about this whole situation. at least this time most people agree that vandoorne deserves a seat, which didn’t happen last year with magnussen. too bad vandoorne isn’t british, so the media and fans can’t push mclaren to pick him over alonso or button.

    1. I do not get why people like you are so upset. The guy will get a seat in 2017. Is almost certain.
      So why are you crying so. Hell if he gets some practice sessions and some super formula races it may guarantee that he gets to F1 in the best possible condition he can get.
      So what is this whining about for just a year. Is not like the car is ready for a championship challenge and his losing his chance to fight for a championship.

      Also Mclaren hasn’t ignored their young guns at all. This guy will get a seat as i said and Magnussen wasn’t ignored ether, he got to drive a Mclaren for a full year. People cry about him but he was given his chance and he didn’t impress as much as he should. Button really beat him. And worse Button really beat him even if you only count the latest half of the races as to give him the benefit of the doubt on getting to know procedures and experience some miles in the car.
      He showed to be kind of decent but not great. And Mclaren is looking for great.
      You can bet your ass that if Magnussen had done better he will still be driving that Mclaren.
      Why didn’t any other team pick him up? Because he really didn’t show he was an opportunity that a team shouldn’t miss in the year he drove in F1.

      People forget how many relatively young drivers Mclaren took risks with. Raikonnen, Kovalanien,(yes they had a year but still for a top team to just take them like that is quite the gamble) Hamilton, Magnussen and if we go back Hakkinen was also just thrown in there by Mclaren and the young Andretti too.
      Vandoorne WILL get to drive for Mclaren too.

      Ferrari is the team that takes zero risk and always keeps seasoned drivers even when they under perform instead of giving chances to youngsters, not Mclaren.
      Mclaren may have two season drivers at the moment but they are both world champions and none of the two under performs while Ferrari is keeping Raikkonen there that seems to just completely lost his mojo.

  8. In a year where the world saw what a seventeen year-old could do in an F1 car, and as the team that brought a GP2 champion called Lewis Hamilton into the sport, you would have thought McLaren would have got the hint. In the likely case that 2016 remains a challenging season for the Woking squad, they could have at least chosen to spend the time bedding in their future team leader, but instead have condemned him to the same role that proved fatal to the unquestionable star quality that was Kevin Magnussen.

    Stoffel Vandoorne is a generational talent: he has a higher junior category win rate than even Hamilton can boast, and yet McLaren are doing nothing to discourage him from going elsewhere. With the Ferrari Driver Academy in urgent need of revitalization, and with Raikkonen’s exit remaining a postponed inevitability, Vandoorne might be best advised to leave. As for McLaren, every single driver decision since Hamilton left in 2012 looks to have been miscalculated, indecisive or showing the signs of the manacles of their sponsors.

    1. And that’s not mentioning the ££,£££,£££s in “Honda vouchers” they would save in fielding Stoffel over an aged champion.

    2. Only a fool will leave the Mclaren young driver program for a Ferrari one. Ferrari doesn’t put drivers in the seat unless they drove at least 3 years in F1. No way he will get a Ferrari seat.
      Mclaren will give him a seat though. He has a very strong chance of getting one at 2017 ether with the big team or a smaller one and definite big seat on 2018.
      After that it will be up to him to impress. People easily forget that Magnussed drove a Mclaren for a full year and didn’t impress much. Hell even Perez got a seat from Mclaren instead of Ferrari despite being part of their program.
      If i was a young driver i would not think in a million years that my chances are better as a Ferrari youngster. Ferrari hasn’t give the seat to a single one of their youngsters.

  9. Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne driving for McLaren 2017.

    Pascal Werlein at Force India 2017.

  10. I really think now that no real credibility of talent will be found within Gp2, probably a reliable assessment of talent a few years ago, but with the Maldonaldo ,Erriccson ,Nasr, Palmer ,Varndoorne, we have the dregs progressing to formula . Vandoorne might be good, but no way as good as Jules Bianchi/Sam Bird,as usual it’s all about how your face fits, Sam Bird is wasting his time in Formula E, whilst the talentless mexican Guitterez ($$$$$$) has secured a drive with a half decent new formula 1 team, whilst JEV sits on the bench.
    It’s a real shame that new fans will never have seen the real Formula 2 with Maurers, Marches,AGS, Tolemans etc-you could really spot a talent then, Eje Elgh, Richard Dallest, etc.-I can’t see anyone really special out of this GP2 field can you?

    1. Vandoorne might be good, but no way as good as Jules Bianchi/Sam Bird

      You haven’t been following the feeder series too well, have you?

      Bird’s resume doesn’t even compare to that of Vandoorne. He never won a single seater series while Vandoorne is the most dominant GP2 winner ever. I mean, Vandoorne won more races in 2 seasons of GP2 alone than Bird did in 7 (yes, seven!) seasons of single seater racing. How can you possibly argue Bird is a better racing driver?

      Bianchi has a better resume than Bird, but still not as good as Vandoorne’s. Bianchi never made the impact Vandoorne did in GP2 (winning all of 1 race over the course of 2 seasons). Vandoorne won much more, and kept winning in the top racing series.

      Sorry, but going by their junior career Vandoorne is a better prospect than Bianchi and a much, much better one than Bird.

    2. I can’t see anyone really special out of this GP2 field can you?

      You may be the only one on the planet that don’t think that the 2015 GP2 field is one of the strongest ever.
      As for Vandoorne, he just made it look easy against such strong opponents. The top eight drivers have really been impressive, and Stoffel crushed them.

  11. Obviously a driver deserving of an F1 seat right now (as can be argued of the man he replaces), but it will be interesting to see if he can win SF next year, considering Toyota has dominated Honda for years over there. There’s also no DRS, tire warmers, or other gimmicks, making it even more critical to be 10/10ths in every session.

    If Vandoorne sweeps all before him in SuperFormula, as I’m sure everyone at McLaren and Honda expects, that will be even more impressive than what he’s done in GP2.

  12. Been ready for years. Really annoys me that he still isn’t on the grid…

  13. And he is not on the grid next year.. Retire Sunlonso save 30M and sport this kid to an F1 seat…

  14. Nice performance!

  15. huge alonso fan, really want him to win another championship. However, Vandoorn has unbelievable race pace and skill. The competition or level of other gp2 drivers in 2015 is on another level, than when Hamilton or Rosberg were in GP2. There’s so many quality drivers in GP2, that the performance of Vandoorn is neck & shoulders above the rest.

    deserves alonso’s or button’s seat.

  16. I honestly don’t think throwing Vandoorne into a team striving to regain it’s status as a top team is a good idea.

    What are we basing this supposed decline of Button and Alonso on exactly? Prior to 2015, Alonso and Button were both frequently challenging for the top half of the points (and in Alonso’s case, sometimes wins) against some of the sports best. Even in their current situations, where it’s difficult to judge driver performance based on such a poor care, I’ve yet too see anything that indicates that either are on a steep decline. If the McHonda project had been a success (and it could still be), would throwing into a championship fight be the best idea? When you consider that all champions on the current grid bar Hamilton started off at smaller/back marker teams it makes little sense to throw him into the deep end, especially when Gp2 success is never a guarantee of F1 success.

    I agree McLaren should certainly have done more to help him get a seat at another team but if McLaren won’t to go back to being one of the top teams in F1, taking huge risks on unproven F1 talent isn’t the best solution. When two World Champions, who have driven some of the best cars in the sport, are available then it’s a no brainier you take them.

    1. @davef1 Can’t see a single sign of decline either. Give them a Mercedes and they’ll just win the championship.
      As an Alonso fan and a strong Vandoorne supporter, I find this situation insupportable.
      But again, with more cars on the grid, McLaren would surely have found a seat for him. A shame, really.

  17. It was a good performance and Stoffel deserves a seat soon but to me it was also one of the weakest GP2 fields. so his smashing record isn’t that impressive to me.

    1. @tmf42 that makes no sense. Ahead of the season the GP2 field was touted as one of the best in years. Great drivers joined from FR3.5 (Gasly, Sirotkin), moved up from GP3 (Lynn) or stayed in GP2 (Vandoorne, Evans, Rossi, Marciello). That’s some proper talent

      It wasn’t the lineup that was weak, it was Vandoorne being that good. It’s easy to confuse that, but really, Vandoorne was supreme.

      1. @mattds It looked strong on paper going into the season. But Sirotkin managing 3rd after a mediocre F3.5 season (losing to Rowland) sums it up. I expected much more from Gasly, Lynn and to some extend even more from Rossi and Evans, but they turned out to be underwhelming.

        So to me, some of Stoffel’s individual drives are much more impressive than his headline making record.

        1. @tmf42 Sirotkin came good in GP2 this year after finishing behind very respectable drivers last year in FR3.5. Keep in mind that a feeder series field is never comprised of a lot of potential F1 drivers, even not a GP2 or FR3.5. Compare to other years and this year’s field holds up really well.

          I’d have to repeat myself here – all of them looked underwhelming this year because Vandoorne was simply so crushingly dominant. It can’t be that of all great prospects, all of them have an off-year just at the time Vandoorne passes by in GP2. That’s too much of a coincidence for me.

          Another point of view. People say Rossi did well in F1 this year. Vandoorne crushed him. People say Nasr did well in F1 this year. Vandoorne, in his rookie year, beat an experienced Nasr.

          1. @mattds no. As I see it, they looked underwhelming because they also didn’t perform well against others. They raced more people than just Vandoorne and nothing I’ve seen from the others was that exciting.

            On a side note – Sirotkin lost against his teammate last year. So I don’t see him as the super talent either.

          2. @tmf42 yes, Sirotkin lost against his team mate last year. And? Rowland is a very respectable driver with a good junior record.
            My point is that Sirotkin stepped it up a notch this year.

            Take away Vandoorne and we would probably be talking about what a great year in GP2 it was where a very talented field battled it out all year long. Put in Vandoorne and they look underwhelming.

            Can’t agree that nothing looked exciting. The racing standards were pretty high, a lot of people had good drives, and basically below Vandoorne a lot of drivers were evenly matched. My stance is that they were evenly matched at a high level.

            Consider this: last year Cecotto Jr, of all drivers, could win two races and finish fifth in the standings. You’re not going to tell me he would have accomplished that this year if he had been a full year at Trident. Heck, he didn’t even score points this year.

          3. @mattds

            My stance is that they were evenly matched at a high level.

            And I’d disagree with it. Imo, the level wasn’t that high. They all had their moments and at some events a few of them boxed above their weight, but overall it was underwhelming especially in terms of consistency. Though, looking back to my initial comment, calling it one of the weakest is definitely an exaggeration. However my point of view remains the same. To me, Stoffel’s individual races were more impressive than his record or the points tally compared to his competitors.

          4. @tmf42 maybe I could agree that his races were even more impressive. But I simply cannot believe that a whole field of promising (and formerly well-performing) young drivers suddenly underperformed all at the same time.
            So the qualify of the field is something we will have to agree to disagree on. And that’s fine :)

            Just for the fun of it: do you believe Cecotto Jr would have been able to come in fifth this year?

          5. @mattds

            I’m fine that we can disagree on this. :)

            About Cecotto Jr. – I get that you want to use him as a reference point. My short answer is: he’s not a reference point.
            And I have the feeling of a lingering disagreement there – that’s why I don’t want to elaborate with a long answer. It entails a different discussion about the series as a whole and it’s value as a talent filter. And I’m not willing to enter that rabbit hole, because I don’t have the time to spare right now. If you see this as a cop-out, it’s fine, because it really is one, to avoid “wasting” my time.

            But if you want, I could have my secretary call yours and sync vacation plans, then we could have this discussion on a beach of your choosing over a nice glass of Mojito. :)

          6. @tmf42 make it caipirinha’s. I’m cool with that. :)

  18. With GP2 being the main feeder series to F1 and giving you the most points to be able to drive in F1, I’m under the impression that the current field of drivers was a very strong one as a lot of F1-teams are placing their young drivers here.
    I do however read different ideas on this point.
    Is the current GP2 driver field strong one ?

    1. I would say this year’s field was a pretty good one – not the best there’s been but better than some recent seasons. Highlights in this year’s field included Raffaele Marciello (Ferrari-backed, 2013 Euro F3 champion), Alex Lynn (Williams-backed, 2014 GP3 champion), Pierre Gasly (Red Bull-backed, 2013 Eurocup 2.0 champion), Mitch Evans (2012 GP3 champion) plus series veterans like Alexander Rossi.

      Inevitably when you look back at who previous champions were up against your view is slightly coloured because we know what some of those drivers went on to achieve. But judged on their merits right now I would say Vandoorne faced some talented opponents this year. And let’s not forget he beat Felipe Nasr to second place last year as a rookie.

      1. Don’t forget also:

        – Sergey Sirotkin, the series’ top rookie, who may have proved that he’s a lot better than most of us were willing to give credit for in 2013-14.
        – Nobuharu Matsushita, who just notched up the best GP2 Series campaign for a Japanese driver and may be the best prospect for F1 from Japan in a long time.
        – Richie Stanaway, whose single-seater career’s been derailed by injury and who no doubt has an LMP-1 future ahead of him – still won two sprint races for a first-year team.

        And at some points of the season you had Dean Stoneman and Oliver Rowland, who seamlessly jumped into GP2. Stoneman was so, so unlucky to go winless in “Formula Gibson 3.5” this year, but we all know he’s been through worse adversity. And Rowland? Just a top, top driver.

  19. It’s fascinating (and depressing) to see that McLaren-backing helps your career throughout the ranks of junior formulae, but breaks your career once you (are about to) reach Formula 1. I’d say Nyck de Vries, get out while you still can, but I’m afraid he is not impressive enough to make F1 on his own.

    1. @matthijs If he ever does make it to F1 he’ll have one definite advantage – he is absolutely tiny!

    2. i am pretty sure he will reach f1 and i don’t see this as breaking his career. But McLaren have more pressing issues at the moment. Right now they need a competitive car and i agree that with Jenson and Fernando they have a better chance, cause they don’t need to train a rookie, and get quality feedback.

  20. I loved watching GP2 this year. It was a cracking season, championship tension aside. Sirotkin cought my eye and obviously we know how good the others were. Gasly took some time to deploy, Lynn was smashing and you have Rossi, Marciello etc… to think of. Even Haryanto had some nice displays of shear grit to end champion of sunday races :D. I think Evans got let down by his team but when everything clicked for him, he was nice to watch. Racing was often top notch and quite mature really (last race excluded obviously :D). Even the midfield with King, Matsuhita, Stanaway, Pic all had their moments when it seemed they could contend for a race or so. Look at how Rowland (though he did good) seemed to have troubles sometimes to see how good the field is.

    So yeah, Vandoorne is pretty hot property (and what does that say of Magnussen who beat him two years ago ?). But none of the names I cited would be disastrous in F1 I feel. What’s impressive with Vandoorne is how consistently good he has been really.

    I hope Occon goes to GP2, it would be a shame for him to do DTM. I’d love to see GP3 top 4 mix it with the top GP2 drivers next year. That would be a great field and at least, if F1 is boring, I still get to enjoy a bit of GP2 in the morning.

    1. @tango

      I hope Ocon goes to GP2, it would be a shame for him to do DTM.

      I agree completely. The DTM’s got a lot going for it but I don’t think it’s a useful development area for single-seater talent, and Ocon is the real deal.

      1. @keithcollantine : DTM certainly has its merits, but well you explained it well already. Will you do a piece on GP3 BTW ? This year’s championship battle between Ghiotto and Ocon was great to follow.

        1. @tango Nothing planned at the moment I’m afraid, but it was an excellent fight between the pair of them which did them both credit.

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