Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Second year in F1 feels “very different” for Vandoorne

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Stoffel Vandoorne said returning to the cockpit feels more “natural” heading into his second season of Formula One.

What they’re saying

Thoughts from Vandoorne at the end of pre-season testing:

It’s definitely very different the feeling this year compared to last year. Obviously last year I was a rookie, had to learn a lot of things, go through a lot of things. Testing was kind of getting myself ready.

Whilst now I turn up and the moment I step into the car everything feels so natural, normal. Straight away where you are you have a good feeling about everything. I spend a lot of time at the factory as well with the aerodynamicists to develop the car the way I want it. So far everything is very positive, very happy. I can’t complain.

Social media

Notable posts from Twitter, Instagram and more:

Comment of the day

Steven hasn’t been won over by the Honda hype:

I’d love to be proved wrong but I fear the best engine Honda could make in the current conditions is always going to be slower than a Mercedes and Ferrari power unit, purely because they will always be two years behind in development and still only have one team running and developing the engine.

Doing lots of laps two seconds off the pace in testing is still a car that will be lapped in most of the 2018 grands prix.
Steven Robertson (@emu55)

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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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39 comments on “Second year in F1 feels “very different” for Vandoorne”

  1. The F1 promo videos are the dumbest things I’ve seen in a long while.

    1. yeah, those are pretty terrible.not a fan of any of Liberty marketing decisions so far…

      seriously, what was that? less than 3 seconds of race footage in a 20 second teaser?? REALLY!!??

      1. Gabe & @arrows98

        +3 seconds of WTH were they thinking?!

        Liberty marketing mavens are out-of-touch with the fanbase. Which is why they’re a perfect fit with the rest of the F1 circus.

    2. Maybe we’re not the intended audience, and Liberty is targeting new viewers?

      I know I don’t need any ad to get me excited, I’m already chomping at the bit for next Friday!

    3. That’s probably the difference between an Super Fan and a Racefan (ex Fanatic).
      The Super Fan is happy with any emotion linked to F1 and even a 3 sec moving image.
      A Racefan (ex Fanatic) prefers to complain about everything :p

  2. This superfan thing makes me feel rather depressed.

    1. “Keep your eyes peeled & if you see it, send me pics.”

      So basically, send him pictures of himself when you see the advert he is in. #engineeredinsanity

  3. Watched the promo video. Am I supposed to be excited to see a Red Bull crash into turn 1?

  4. Re. McLaren’s comment about Ferrari breaking the gentleman’s agreement – is an “FIA deputy race director” considered a “key technical FIA employee”? I think the “technical” keyword is the bit of wiggle-room that Ferrari would use.

    On the other hand, if Ferrari resorts to such fine/legalistic interpretations of a gentleman’s agreement, then it is a bit of a shame.

    1. I’m not really surprised by Ferrari’s actions though. Looks like the veto in the rules wasn’t enough for them, now they just rather break agreements blatantly to gain an advantage. I don’t think it makes much of a difference, as personally, I don’t see them winning anyways.

      Boullier needs to suck it up though. I would much rather see McLaren adopt this ruthless approach instead of fretting about other teams breaking ‘gentleman’s agreements’.

      1. @todfod, well, Ferrari in turn would probably point to Renault and their decision to hire Marcin Budkowski and state that, if other teams were already breaking that agreement, why should they then stick to an agreement that others were “blatantly breaking to gain an advantage”.

        1. It was only agreed after Renault story though

      2. Raising hell about an opponent’s every move is part of being ruthless.

    2. Just like Mercedes broke the gentlemans agreement on not taking a new engine before Monza. As of Monza there were more strict oil burning rules. Oops.

      1. No they didn’t. It was well reported that there was no such agreement. As well as the engine they brought to Spa complied with 0.8L oil limit rules. So you’re just posting misinformation

        1. If the engine brought in Spa compiled with the 0.9L restriction then why was it introduced in a hurry and before Monza ?

          1. It was not introduced in a hurry. Toto said they had always planned on introducing it at Spa.

          2. @KGN11
            Keep telling that to yourself, since when F1 teams do plan to introduce (voluntary) a fresh new engine one race before Monza.

        2. It was well reported that Toto Wolff claimed there was no such agreement. As well as the engine they brought to Spa (again only according to Toto Wolff himself) complied with 0.8L oil limit, but Toto Wolff also claimed that the rules are the rules.
          FTFY KGN11

          1. Isn’t it funny, you all don’t believe the word of the team boss, but you’d believe that of speculative journalist.

            If the oil burn rules were meant to have affected Mercedes the most, why has there been no drop in the PU performance like Ferrari?

  5. The article about the Halo made for a nice read.

    Germany’s CP Autosport, one of the three manufacturers chosen by the FIA as official suppliers of the new Halo safety device. [CP is] supplying nine of the 10 F1 teams

    I wonder who the one F1 team is who haven’t used a CP halo. Ferrari?

    1. @phylyp I was about to ask the same question. First thing it pops to mind is Ferrari, the article even says something about an Italian partner.
      Let’s just think of another hypothesis, what team would be scrupulous to the point of making the halo themselves?
      RB, to shave a little bit of weight.
      There was a rumour on team had troubles passing their halo. After reading this, I though all teams were fabricating their halo’s but apparently only 1 team.

      This didn’t cross my mind but it’s a pivotal peculiarity of titanium and one that has caused the loss of many lives in aviation, titanium is very hard to work with as it’s extremely sensitive to contamination.
      Foundering titanium is a high tech procedure and so it is vital to attain the highest grade possible because as it can’t contain any oxygen. The presence of oxygen in titanium leads to the weakening of the molecular bound and eventual catastrophic stress fractures that are almost impossible to inspect unless you cut the titanium tubing in half. To make matters worse the titanium sections are then welded together to form the halo, this procedure is also super high tech and very specific, no wonder most f1 team don’t fabricate their own halos.

      The cynic me wonders how much money is this contract worth, to the company who makes these but also to the fia.

      1. Except every team builds and welds their own titanium exhaust which must withstand ridiculously high temperatures and vibrations.

        They know how to do it. The only reason they might outsource it is if they can’t improve its performance or if it’s standard part.(both in this case)

  6. Just went through Karun’s analysis of pre season testing where he has put all the 3 Renault teams at ranks 3,4,5.
    I find it very difficult to believe that will actually happen. For every other engine, there is a wide chasm between the best performing team and the worst. Why won’t that hold true for Renault as well? Simply because their customers are ones with huge budgets? Force India and McLaren have shown over the past few years that budgets don’t correlate to good on-track performance.

    Secondly, are we sure McLaren is really well heeled when it comes to money this year. The tiny amount of real estate given to the many sponsors indicates that these sponsors aren’t paying much. Honda’s 100 mn is lost. Alonso’s Kimoa (the one with the highest real estate on the car) is also not putting any money into the team as that is just compensation for Alonso’s reduced salary.
    So, it won’t be a surprise to see McLaren a little further back than 5th simply because their budget is lower.

    1. Also watching Ted’s notes and footage from the Paddock I looked like their hospitality and truck were somehow way smaller than before. Looked even smaller than Williams. While this could just have been me reading too much or just not being able to properly see what was the dimension of the McLaren operation, it did indeed seemed like McLaren looked smaller then they were before.

    2. @sumedhvidwans @sergio-perez
      I disagree to an extent.
      Lower budgets and lower financial funding do not necessarily mean average performances—as proven by Force India repeatedly (you have mentioned this). It is too early to make a judgement about the performances of a car that has given us very low mileage (last in the mileage charts). The fact that it wasn’t able to run for most of the time, in itself could be a condemning fact, but the same weight should also be given to the performances of the car on the last two days—former fact nullified by the latter.

      Wrt money, sponsors are being cautious because McHonda failed to deliver in the past and they are very unsure about McRenault just like everyone else. If they sort out the issue of reliability, if both cars can just run the entire distance of a few races, sponsors will start lining up. Consistent top ten finishes will only add to this growing list. They have the best driver on the grid and a high performing disciple in Stoffel. Don’t see why sponsors wouldn’t prefer to see their names on Alonso’s car, who will be given considerable on-screen time this year.

      I am pretty sure things will certainly improve after the summer break if not before.

  7. From the self-congratulatory Halo PR release:

    Without question, it is now the strongest element on a Formula One car.

    And Ugliest.

    Congrats again, Mr. Todt, in casting your personal power symbol, the Todt Thong, over the political halo of F1. Bernie would be proud.

  8. Regarding the last paragraph of the COTD: ”Doing lots of laps two seconds off the pace in testing is still a car that will be lapped in most of the 2018 grands prix.”
    – Yeah, but it’s pretty much useless to compare lap times in testing as we don’t know the fuel loads or whether full power was being used or not, for example. Even if the tyre compound is the same, there are still a lot of other unknown variables that make single-lap pace between teams incomparable.

  9. I still have high hopes for Stoffel, he better perform, last season his form was similar to one Lance Stroll. He was way off at the start came good at the middle and then plummeted down the end. In Stoffel’s defence he’s alongside Nando and he’s lows in performance can’t be compared to Stroll’s and nor his highs, Stroll had good results but being almost as quick as Massa once or twice it’s not meaningful.
    Dennis hired Stoffel and Stoffel got re-signed before Dennis was shoved aside, can’t imagine the new direction has the same thoughts for the 2nd seat. Not even Alonso who is putting his own branding on the car, can provide big sponsors, let alone the market-less Stoffel. McLaren may opt to either resort to pay drivers or sign a British driver, one that can spark some furore, Lando is the main candidate. Will Alonso allow a British driver alongside him, again?

    1. You must have a very high opinion of Massa if you think being +0.234s slower than Alonso on average is “similar” to being +0.629s slower than Massa.

    2. @peartree

      “Will Alonso allow a British driver alongside him, again?”

      Alonso pushed to have Buton alongside him, but ultimately it was’t his decision to make. This was actually shown in a TV interview
      Where do you get your facts and what was the problem with Button? (who later went on to say he didnt really get on well with Lewis)

  10. COTD ignores that Honda’s original concept was the same as Mercedes and that most of Honda’s issues come from compromising with McLaren’s demands. I’m not saying it’s necessarily wrong, just that we don’t know how good the Honda engine is when it’s not being limited by car design.

  11. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    16th March 2018, 7:25

    Vandoorne was a much improved driver for the second half of the season and reasonably close to Alonso at times (very occasionally ahead). If he keeps improving at this rate he could mount a serious challenge to Alonso, especially with Alonso’s crazy workload this season. I like his smooth style, reminds me of Button.

  12. There are no gentlemen in F1 and no gentle-females either.

  13. If Ferrari threat about quitting F1 is serious then why hiring a key personal figure of the FIA. The D’artagnan of the paddock isn’t a technical key figure like Marcin Budkowski that would have a direct impact on the team performance on the track. He’s a safety experts in the first place and knows very well the FIA politics , so my guess is that the main reason why Laurent was hired is political. Maybe an expert like him will help Ferrari organize an alternative championship in 2021 or maybe this is a new episode of their bluffing series…

  14. My hopes for the cars as they turn up in Oz: red bull change colour of one of their car numbers to yellow. Mercedes put their nose numbers just a little bit further down the nose so we can see all of it. Teams paint one car’s halo black and the other the main colour of the car. McLaren have the word McLaren on the sidepods. Ferrari paint their wings black.

  15. …the Mercedes, which was frankly like a limousine on a bed of air…

    Karun Chandhok’s pre-season analysis and predictions

    Awesome read!

  16. Josh McGregor – what a cool kid! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for him to rise through the ranks…

  17. Liberty would love to keep as much of F1’s current fan base as possible, but their priority is to market to new generations.They’re going to be around longer.

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