2017 F1 driver rankings #14: Vandoorne

2017 F1 season review

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Rare were the occasions when Stoffel Vandoorne had an opportunity to show what he could do in his first full season of Formula One. The poor performance and reliability of his McLaren’s Honda engine saw to that.

Making matters worse, he was up against one of the best in the business. It’s hard to shine when you’re taking on Fernando Alonso every weekend.

Stoffel Vandoorne

Beat team mate in qualifying3/19
Beat team mate in race2/7
Races finished14/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate221/696
Qualifying margin+0.23

By that measure, Vandoorne’s qualifying record is not is poor as the scoreline makes it look. An average deficit of just over two tenths of a second per lap to a two-times world champion who’s in his 15th season is very respectable. What’s more, Vandoorne’s one-lap pace visibly improved over the season – exactly what you’d expect from a driver at this stage in their career.

The McLaren-Honda MCL32 was far from a great machine in which to hone his skills. Too often Vandoorne’s efforts were wrecked by power unit problems. He failed even to start in Bahrain and posted a string of retirements elsewhere.

Occasionally Vandoorne added to the mountain of problems the team faced. He had a ragged weekend in Spain which ended after a bizarre crash with Felipe Massa. And in Monaco, a rare opportunity for the team to grab some points, he binned his car twice.

But the signs of progress were there as the year went. At Singapore, following the first-lap crash which wrecked his team mate’s race, he salvaged a vital seventh for McLaren. Even more impressively he repeated the result at the next round in Malaysia, a track much more punishing of the McLaren’s weaknesses. The highlight was his opportunistic overtaking move as he left the pits, pouncing on the Williams pair as they squabbled for position.

It was a quietly impressive season he should be satisfied with. But it’s a standard he will have to build on in 2018, particularly as much better results should be on offer for McLaren then.

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Over to you

Decent enough rookie season from a very good driver. Kept Alonso honest. Still reckon he has a good enough level to be a future world champion. But needs a better functioning car: expect him to get close to Alonso next season.

What’s your verdict on Stoffel Vandoorne’s 2017 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than him? Have your say in the comments.

Add your views on the other drivers here:

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Author information

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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24 comments on “2017 F1 driver rankings #14: Vandoorne”

  1. Given all the hype around him before the season started, you could forgive all of his critics after the first 6 races, no matter how smug their faces. Has really gotten his act together ever since, and while Singapore was a very unusual race, Malaysia was simply marvelous. He beat Alonso fair and square on a circuit where he’s had particularly good results. I’m a bit biased, but i think it’s not inplausible to expect great stuff from Vandoorne in the future.

  2. I did my own ranking after the season. Positions 15-20 exactly the same, Vandoorne was 13th in my ranking, mainos thinking that I had to put Haas drivers next to each other.

    1. I had the same in mind – Mag at #15, Gro at #14, Van at #13

  3. Really? 14th? Lower than Grosjean and Raikkonen? I don’t agree with that. Sure he was eh at the start of the year, but on quite a few occasions he matched or was even better than Alonso, and even when he wasn’t, once he was used to the car he wasn’t far off.

  4. I thought vandoorne would be a few places higher than this. he was obviously hamstrung by his terrible car and he matched up well against alonso – i would say he was no worse than button and a lot better than massa and raikkonen, especially when you consider this was his first season.

  5. As always it’s a bit difficult to rank based on what might have been’s.
    Stoffel generally has progressively got his act together and closed on Alonso which is no little feat.
    Lows were indeed Spain but moreover wasted points in Monaco. More or less fair ranking so far for me!

  6. With the likes of Massa, Grosjean and Raikkonen ahead of him, despite what I consider a strong rookie season in terms of raw pace, this is very, very harsh.

      1. @jerejj You, I like you.

    1. @hahostolze Yes exactly. He had a better year than Grosjean at least if not Kimi and Massa.

  7. I would certainly place Stoff above Kimi.

    I think Stoff has deservedly won plaudits over the course of the season. He didn’t let the early season form effect him, instead, got his head down and worked harder.

    The effort was evident as the season progressed. He must have had to deal with a great deal of frustration, but always appeared to be calm and measured.

    He will be much stronger next year, and I can see him beating Alonso more often.

    1. Yes, I think that is also a strong quality: do your and work even harder without whining even if the car (or motor) keeps letting you down.

      One thing that was a bit disapointing was that Alonso on several occasions gained a few places at the start where Stoffel couldn’t.
      But perhaps it’s better for a rookie to show you can bring home the car safely than risk crashing out to gain places outside the top 10.
      I’m very curious what he can achieve next year.

  8. Vandoorne surely had a better year than Raikkonen and Grosjean! @keithcollantine

  9. As a Stoffel fan, I was disappointed from his season (partially because the McHonda was so slow). I excepted too much from him, thinking he would do as well as Hamilton in 2007, but clearly my exceptations were too high.
    14th is fair but you should’ve mentioned Alonso had some parts earlier than him, he would be even closer to Alonso with equal treatement.

    1. Alonso did indeed have first choice on upgrades.
      Especially at the end when Stoffel was getting a few good races the big front wing upgrade hurt him for a few races.
      This front wing is said to be worth up to 0,5 sec.

      I also hoped he could have shined more, but it’s indeed hard to tell how good he was because of all the problems and Alonso in big form.
      Let’s hope he can shine next year alongside Alonso!

  10. If Renault produce a great engine Stof will make a massive jump up the driver rankings.

  11. Suggested edit.

    Replace: “Making matters worse, he was up against one of the best in the business.”

    With: “Making matters worse, he was up against the best in the business.”

    Merry Christmas!

  12. Agreed with all, should be ahead of Massa and Raikonnen for how he fared against Alonso.

  13. I would put him above Grosjean and Raikkonen but not Massa.

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