2017 F1 team mate battles: Alonso vs Vandoorne at McLaren

2017 F1 season review

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Fernando Alonso is not at all shy when it comes to pressing his point about how well he’s been driving. And the results below make it perfectly clear why.

He dominated rookie team mate Stoffel Vandoorne, who seldom got a look-in during 2017. Nonetheless, due partly to the appalling unreliability of McLaren’s Honda power unit, Vandoorne almost ended the season ahead of Alonso in the standings. Only in the final two races did Alonso move ahead in the most obvious (but often least useful) benchmark of driver performance.

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Vandoorne had some good weekends towards the end of his first full season in the car, by which time he was clearly becoming more comfortable in the car. Malaysia, where he finished seventh for the second race in a row, was a notable high.

He will need to build on that progress next year however. McLaren has another exciting young talent in the shape of Lando Norris who will surely be ready for a promotion to Formula One at the end of next season.

Alonso vs Vandoorne: The scores

Alonso vs Vandoorne: Season results

Fernando Alonso Q
Stoffel Vandoorne Q

Vandoorne vs Button

While Alonso took a crack at winning the Indianapolis 500, Jenson Button was recalled from retirement for a one-off return. Had it not been for yet more Honda engine problems, this could have been a fairytale story.

At one of few tracks where the shortcomings of the McLaren were masked, Button took his car into Q3. Vandoorne did too, but crashed. Button, however, was relegated to the tail of the field by a power unit penalty. From there he struggled to get into the points and ended up colliding with Pascal Wehrlein.

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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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36 comments on “2017 F1 team mate battles: Alonso vs Vandoorne at McLaren”

  1. It’s impossible to know how good Vandoorne is when he’s against what many would argue is still the best driver in F1, especially in the most unreliable car

    1. Hmmm. Not sure we used that criteria in 2007 with Hamilton though. Personally, I think Vandoorne has been disappointing given his previous single seater record.

      1. 2007 is 10 years ago, Bro. Live on.

        1. Ok, thanks.

        2. but 2007 is always the default argument for Lewis’ fans. You can see why though as he hasn’t done anything as spectacular as ‘beating Alonso’ since.

    2. I agree with @john-h on this. Vandoorne is performing worse against Alonso than Button did. You might say it’s unfair to judge a rookie against a former champion, but considering his record I at least expected him to put Alonso under pressure regularly, which just hasn’t happened.

      1. Keep in consideration:
        – All updates went to Alonso first.
        – Vandoorne had no experience on most of the tracks, and had more than a few issues in free trainings
        – Driving style is different, but Vandoorne was expected to drive a car set up like Alonso’s in the first 8 races.
        – Alonso doesn’t have to listen to the pitwall when instructed to save fuel, Vandoorne does.
        – If underpowered, starting position is very important, because during the race you only lose positions. Starting at the back doesn’t help there.

      2. You need to take into account that Alonso almost always had the better car with Vandoorne often having to wait for the latest parts and upgrades. Logical yes, Alonso is the #1 driver at McLaren.

  2. Still are there someone stressing with “alonso the best in F1” theory?
    Good grief!

    1. I was intended to type “people”, not “someone”..
      Edit button much needed!

      1. But it’s probably true! It’s a shame we’ve been denied that delicious Alonso vs Hamilton rematch & now we’ll never know, but in my book (and he isn’t my favourite driver by a long chalk; I don’t have one but if I did, it wouldn’t be he), he is the best all rounder on the grid. The opportunity to discover depths that were previously hidden exposed by the inadequate power plant has been a unique experience. He has enough cash, he could have ejected his toys and walked and who could have blamed him? No, I tip my hat in his general direction and happily classify him as top dog, or rooster as the saying goes.

        1. Alonso beat Lewis in the last 5 races of 2008 in an inferior car and beat him in 2010 in an inferior car, so we do know!
          In 2007 Spanish GP Alonso lost 2nd place clashing with Massa and handed it to Lewis, that was the difference between them in races!

          1. Wow, grasping at some very very specific straws with all your comments.

          2. The are no straws. Lewis isn’t better than Alonso.

    2. Lewis hasn’t been 100% all season. I dont think he ever has. You’ve got those seasons when Alonso beat him in inferior cars too.

      I don’t know who you are, but the biggest partnership in F1 lured him from Ferrari. You could always contact McLaren if you know different. They might even pay commission but I did hear Zak Brown claim Alonso was the best and earnt his salary back.

      1. Hamilton is fighting for a championship though, it’s a little different. Alonso made one or two mistakes when fighting for WDCs too. Personally I think they are very equally matched.

        1. Alonso fought for both his championships in non-dominant cars.
          He and Lewis both fought for 2007 with non-dominant cars and yes both made mistakes that year.

  3. In my opinion Vandoorne held his ground quite well against a great driver like Alonso.
    The first half of the season he had issues with adapting to the car and F1. Adapting to the car is not easy when it is not working. People like Alonso came into F1 when they could test, test, test. I think new people have it a lot more difficult now with the limited amount of testing in a real car.
    Also don’t forget that often Alsonso got upgrades before Vandoorne got them. So a comparison on qualification times is not very fair. How many races were there where they both had a car working and had the same spec?

    1. I think his performances looked terrible only because he was up against Alonso. Since the mid point of the season he was much closer to Alonso in both qualifying and the race.

      However, Malaysia was the only weekend in the year where he was convincingly better than Alonso. Alonso did give him a thrashing, but I don’t think he can be that ashamed about it.

    2. Vandoorne finished or was classified in 14 races while Alonso completed or was classified in 11 races. Of those 14 races Vandoorne finished, 3 earned points (total 13), while 5 of Alonso’s earned points (total 17). Vandoorne’s average place end of a race place was 11.7, while Alonso’s was 11.2.
      I think Vandoorne’s results are very good for first year in F1.

  4. Really hard to judge on a equal playing field… as in many instances they weren’t driving the same car in terms upgrades.

  5. Vandoorne did beat Alonso in terms on grid penalties: 213 vs 160…

    1. @JIckx +1.

  6. DO NOT talk about Alonso’s team ALSO benefitting it.

    1. That’s pretty cool but I would appreciate a translation please.

  7. As Alonso fan, I still think this biggest disappointment of the season was how he got caught in the first corner crash at Singapore. It robbed of us the closest chance of seeing Alonso fighting near the front again (of course taking into consideration 3 of the top 6 were eliminated).

    While I don’t think he would’ve got the podium he claimed he would have, I’m more than certain he would’ve given us a damn good spectacle fighting for it.

    1. He’s beaten Lewis before at Singapore in an inferior car. I think he would have done it.

      1. Referring to 2008? Really are you serious!!??

        1. @john-h

          YES John!! you wont remember, but there was a second safety car after the Pat Symonds one, that brought Lewis up behind Alonso (Lewis champion-elect in a superior car) Alonso just left him for dust.
          We’ve seen Lewis be quite lucky with safety cars, but this time John he needed more than luck.

          1. Finished that too early, but as I’ve mentioned before Ferrari were the 3rd best team when Alonso went there Alonso also beat Lewis in an inferior car at Singapore in 2010

          2. Regarding 2010 we should look at how well Massa did against Lewis in 2007 and 2008. He was 2-0 up on Lewis after the first 5 races of 2007. But had no impact against either McLaren or Red Bull in 2010. It was Alonso on his own in the 5th best car. Ferrari were even reluctant to let Massa assist Alonso, leaving him ahead at the Oz GP.

  8. Great fan of both Alonso and Vandoorne. Would have preferred seeing them together in a car that did a proper pre-season, didn’t keep breaking down and was a little bit more raceable…

    1. This has the potential to be classed as the best driver line-up in a top car. Unlike Ferrari and Mercedes you could always trust McLaren to pair drivers who would entertain.

  9. I still feel that including classified ‘finishes’ in the results skews the data. Look at Canada for a good example: Alonso was running ahead all race long, and was in the points while Vandoorne was nowhere near. It was a one-sided victory for Alonso, except that he happened to retire with 1 lap to go instead of 10, meaning that not only does it not count for him, it actually counts against him.

    I personally feel that F1 should do away with classifying all those who reached 90%. It’s rooted in the past, and it actually made sense in the distant past when simply finishing 90% of a GP was an achievement, and not infrequently fewer than six drivers made it to the checkered flag – in those days, getting classified could easily lead to points, and make the difference in a season. It’s been a long time since a driver who was merely classified scored points, and all it does now is mess up stats like these.

    Okay, rant over! I enjoy these articles as always, I just feel that the classified ‘finishes’ distort the picture.

  10. Howmany times did alonso get the new part first and howmany times did Stoffel get it first?
    What were the differences and what about engine settings?

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