Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Albert Park, 2018

Norris: Vandoorne is better than most drivers on the grid

2018 F1 season

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New McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris says he hopes to learn from Stoffel Vandoorne, who he will replace at the team next year.

Vandoorne is without a contract for next year after being dropped by McLaren. But Norris believes there is plenty he can learn from the driver whose seat he is taking.

“I think if I can learn anything from Stoffel and from the team on why they don’t think he was good enough – why they think I could be better, whatever I can to help myself improve – whatever they can do to help myself improve, [I will].

“I think especially with Gil [de Ferran, sporting director] coming in there’s much more of an understanding now of what needs to be done for myself and Carlos [Sainz Jnr] helping us improve and show what we can do.”

Norris said Vandoorne had a difficult start in F1, going up against Fernando Alonso in a succession of uncompetitive McLarens.

“Stoff I rate as a pretty damn good driver, probably higher than most other drivers on the grid,” said Norris.

“But I think getting put against Fernando, going into Formula 1 when McLaren are probably at their worst ever, it’s not easy going from championships where you’re in such a good team, always challenging for the win.

“Going into a category where there’s so many good drivers out of how many drivers and people there are in the world, getting down to 20 drivers, they’re all pretty damn good. I think it’s just an unlucky circumstance basically that he was thrown in probably at the deepest end possible.

“Anything I can learn from what he’s not done well enough, what he’s done very good, even from the [free practice sessions] I’ve already learned from him, there’s things which altogether can help me.”

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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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35 comments on “Norris: Vandoorne is better than most drivers on the grid”

  1. Where does he think he is being thrown into?

    1. Actually, he is furiously gesturing at those black depths for the benefit of the press, Mr. Brown, and the investors, when they want to know why he is not getting out of Q3. Well-judged comments.

    2. I think he’s being thrown into a relatively easy life alongside an average driver who’s new to the team.

  2. Making him seem better that he’s the one replacing Vandoorne? Always love it when drivers praise the guy they’re replacing because the team thinks they’re a better driver.

  3. So Lando seems to start wondering why he was chosen over Stoffel. He’s not the only one!

    1. He is not wondering.. he already learned all there was to learn from Stof.

  4. But I think getting put against Fernando, going into Formula 1 when McLaren are probably at their worst ever

    I think he’ll be getting much more media coaching very soon.

    1. @kylestephens Statistically they are, so I don’t see any problem.

      1. I don’t disagree. Point is, there’s probably better ways to spin these things. The media love to latch on to things, as Lewis has found out from time to time!

    1. BTW; What’s taking so long with the ‘stats and facts review’ article concerning the last race (or race weekend as a whole to be more precise)?

  5. Maybe he joining Alonso in indycar? That would be fun!

  6. It’s not exactly unusual for F1 drivers to be full of themselves, but his comment really grates with me.

    I think if I can learn anything from Stoffel and from the team on why they don’t think he was good enough


    Stoff I rate as a pretty damn good driver, probably higher than most other drivers on the grid

    = I’m (significantly) better than most other drivers on the grid.
    Really? Before one race? Add to that his warning not to expect a Hamilton-level rookie impact, as though anyone was, and it adds up a huge claim. What happened to racing a bit first to see for yourself if you’re actually good enough and have some basis for downgrading Vandoorne as not good enough and ‘most other drivers’?!

    1. Indeed a new level of arrogance at that age. Ubbelievable.
      Lando is already doing a nando.

      1. I think we should cut the kid some slack. Perhaps a poor choice of words from Lando in an interview situation where he is still to pick up a bit of media savvy, but the most reasonable way of reading that interview was of a young man trying to find some nice words of respect for an outgoing colleague whilst also being equally aware that Mclaren have put him in that seat for a reason and he has no reason to sell himself short.

        1. I think we should cut the kid some slack.

          Every rookie deserves that.. but i have never seen a rookie with this attitude. It seems he believes his own Hype already.
          And every racer with his experience know how the media works. He is young but not that young. There are several others who started younger or at the same age with less of an attitude.

    2. Huh? He’s saying Vandoorne is a “pretty damn good driver, probably higher than most other drivers on the grid.” He’s not talking about himself.

  7. Vandoorne got royally stuffed by the bosses at McLaren.
    September in the year, no drive for next year. Never had the chance to show what he’s capable of. Going up against Fernando won’t have helped but still, a very difficult situation for him.

    1. It’s especially ironic because at the time it felt like they could not wait to get rid of Jenson because he was, well, a bit past it really and Stoffel was young, eager and a really great driver. One always felt in his last couple of years at McLaren, that Jenson was only being tolerated there because of the perceived impact that Stoffel would have.

      It’s not Stoffel’s fault this happened and the car has been so uncompetitive, but how quickly the wheel of fortune spins.

    2. Come on @pmccarthy_is_a_legend, lets be realistic here. He will soon have two full seasons under his belt, and he hasn’t lived up to the expectations. After Silverstone he was qualified 20th three times and 19th once in 5 races. He has 8 points to Alonso’s 44.

      I get how highly regarded he was before joining, but 2 years is a lot of time in F1 and I don’t know why you reckon that he didn’t have a chance to show what he’s capable of. Beating Alonso a few times could do wonders to his reputation.

      I am not saying that he is bad, but he clearly isn’t the “next big thing” nor an F1 champion in the waiting. I guess if he really is that good, a lot of the teams would knock his door right now, but from the news and rumors I don’t see it.

      I really like the guy, so I hope he gets a chance for at least another year, maybe at Sauber if LeClerc moves to Ferrari or even at Haas, but if he is left without a drive I won’t say it’s undeserved.

      1. By now I am really starting to wonder what exactly the expectations were.
        That he would out-politic the driver most know for team politics in F1, so much so that no top team considers said driver?
        That he would somehow make the Honda engine run faster or the Mclaren aero flow better?
        That he would be faster than his #1 driver teammate with lesser material?
        I guess he failed all that. But so would Alonso in his first year.

      2. The midfield is so damn tight that a few tenths makes a world of difference. Bottas was over half a second slower than Hamilton in Monza but slotted in right behind him on the grid. Vandoorne was only a quarter of a second slower than Alonso and he was 20th while Alonso went through to Q2. Then there were the two times where he was less than 1/100s slower, and the two races where he had a crippled car, and the race where Alonso got new parts AND the second pair of new parts while Vandoorne kept using the old parts. He’s underperformed, but circumstances made it seem a lot worse than it was.

      3. @afonic Being last row in a McLaren in the last half of this year is about where you should be.
        While the Williams is bad, it has some strengths on low down-force tracks, but the McLaren is weak in every area.
        Alo did a bit better, but always gets the preferential parts, the optimal strategy (a few times with a tow from Stoff) and stays far ahead in the experience area. The mid field is so close that a gap of 2 tenths is the difference between dead last and Q2.
        In 2017, Winter testing was not a test, but a joke. Stoffel was instructed to finish races, often on fumes instead of actual fuel. Alo raced 60% of the race, and called it a day whenever he ran dry (check the actual engine replacements and compare that to the DNF’s due to GP2-engine failure)
        In 2018, Winter testing was an utter failure. First races, Stoff is instructed to drive defensive, because there were no spare parts. Once the EU-season began, the updates went to 14, and Stoff had spare parts, oh joy!
        A bit later, the kid should have totaled his undrivable chassis, because I’m sure that is what Alo would have done.
        If Mclaren doesn’t screw Stoffel over with hardware, they make the strategy and pitstops a mockery, often to help the strategy of their N°1 driver, other times pure stupidity (Canada for instance)
        He didn’t live up to expectations? What? You expect him to change water in fuel, walk over water while juggling worn Pirelli’s? Do you even know what he did or didn’t do during the races? Did he make stupid mistakes? 2 DNF’s this year, both gearbox related, about 4 penalty points on his license.
        Hey, but at least McLaren lives up to the expectations, during the last 8 years.

  8. Woah – did he just pretty much belittle over half the drivers on the grid?

    1. @nullapax Yes. But to be fair, he’s not giving them preferential treatment. He put down his own new team too as at ‘their worst ever’. I suppose we should be in awe he deigned to join Formula 1 and boost its quality.

  9. Stoffel was treated as the help dishwasher of the ‘McLaren restaurant’. Never had the chance to proof himself, capable what he was worth.
    The management looks at theirs own benefit, managing the career of Norris, thats twice benefit, Mr. Brown. I call it mismanagement to contract Norris a drivers seat for 2019 and also, and not least conflict of interest.

  10. Hmm sounds a bit arrogant: I’m replacing a driver who is better than most other drivers. So Im one of the best in F1….

  11. With comments like these I cannot wait for 2019. Norris should be a jawdropper.

    But really, all of what he said was unwarranted. Does him and McLaren no good.

  12. I don’t think the decision was right, and don’t think Norris deserves to be in F1… but I can’t disagree with anything he’s said. In just about any environment, I’m sure Vandoorne would outperform at least half the current grid.

  13. José Lopes da Silva
    7th September 2018, 23:21

    “I think the 4 very best drivers in the world are Stoffel, Fernando and myself. Oh, and Nicholas, of course, as he’s paying 20% of my salary. These are the four very best.”

  14. I don’t think Norris should be talking the talk before he actually gets to Australia next year.

    The last two rookies that Mclaren fielded were equally, if not more highly rated than Norris and they haven’t even established themselves as mediocre drivers in F1.

    It’s best to keep expectations low before you actually finish your first race.

    1. He is starting to believe the created hype.
      So a level of arrogance unseen, except nando’s.

  15. Wow, where is all this hate against Lando coming from??.. maybe he really IS the new Lewis Hamilton?

    No, you’re right, Kmag is definitely established as a better than mediocre F1 driver…

    1. maybe he really IS the new Lewis Hamilton?

      at least Lando thinks so ;)

      Btw, “hate” ? No i only see realistic views about a young driver who has to prove himself but seems to think he is already there ( and better)

    2. I want him to be the new “Respect” driver and not just another “His Dad is rich” driver.
      Let’s see how he performs before we all choose our positions Huh? :)

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