Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Albert Park, 2018

McLaren urged rival teams to sign Vandoorne

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In the round-up: McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says he has already encouraged the team’s Formula 1 rivals to sign Stoffel Vandoorne, who has lost his place at the team.

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What they say

Following the news Vandoorne was being replaced by Lando Norris at McLaren, Brown was asked whether he would recommend Vandoorne to rival teams:

I already have and anything we can to do to help Stoffel we would help him in a heartbeat. We consider him family. He’s been outstanding to work with.

Hopefully he lands in Formula 1, that’s where he deserves to be. We have some other racing activities that you guys know we are reviewing but I wouldn’t hesitate to keep Stoffel in the McLaren family if there’s a seat available and he has a desire to race in it.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Are McLaren managing their drivers better, or are the stakes just lower now?

It’s not that they are better at managing anything, it’s just that there’s no tension between drivers when they don’t have anything to fight each other for. Neither driver is going to get too stressed about whether they’re going to finish 11th or 12th.

In short, adrenaline and tensions are high, only when the stakes are high.

I bet however there’s a lot of tension in the engineering department, as they they are all stressing about losing their jobs because of horrible results. There’s something at stake.

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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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  • 42 comments on “McLaren urged rival teams to sign Vandoorne”

    1. I want to like Zak and do sympathize with McLaren’s horrible multi-year blight. However, saying “anything we can to do to help Stoffel we would help him in a heartbeat” is disingenuous at best. He is rushing Vandoorne out of F1 so he can rush Norris in to probably suffer the same fate.

      Unlikely that McLaren will improve much, for at least a couple seasons – why not keep their older ‘rookie’ who is already accustomed to finishing last?

      Or…maybe it’s better for Vandoorne this way – if the penalty of getting free from the McEmbarrassment team is leaving F1, could be argued the cost is worth it.

      1. Maybe, hopefully, Sauber will give Vandoorne a chance. No one can doubt his commitment, and his old friends at Sauber could get him for a song. Win/win.
        I am more concerned about Ocon’s fate, for unless Lewis pulls a Nico at the end of the season, Ocon is going to be without a decent seat next year. I would say he is of just as high a caliber as Vandoorne.
        I think Norris knows better than anyone the risks and rewards of signing with McLaren at this time, and I suspect that he will be the winner in the long run, even if McLaren cannot up their game.

        1. @ferrox-glideh I would like to see that, the problem is that the only available seat is bought by Ericsson….

    2. Ditching Vandoorne for Sainz is one of the stupidest decisions I’ve ever seen. The former is clearly top notch, so why change him for someone who spun out at the Senna esses last year under no pressure, and who’s been no match for Hulkenberg? On the other hand, if Vandoorne really isn’t any better than Sainz, why on earth would a rival team take him?

      1. Sainz is a proven driver and I think that’s what they’re looking for to race alongside Norris. Norris and Vandoorne would be almost 2 rookies in the team. And if they didn’t sign Norris they would lose him to another team, otherwise they would have kept Vandoorne at least one more year and bring Norris later.

        1. Vandoorne was 2 tenths off Alonso in Italy qualifying, which happened to place him last. Who on the current grid do you think would have done a better job when the car is that bad? I highly doubt Sainz is any better than that, proven or not.
          As it stands no other team is as farcical with their junior drivers than McLaren. Red Bull is brutal but remember Kyvat ‘torpedoed’.

      2. @Schudha Sainz didn’t spin at the Senna Esses during last season’s Brazilian GP weekend, though.

        1. Granted, every driver makes mistakes. Nonetheless, he’s performed poorly this year, and by that measure, McLaren owe him a firing in arrears.

          The point is McLaren is so bad, money they get from Alonso’s (meagre, for his calibre) accrued points is totally offset by his salary. Maybe McLaren should focus on building a better car rather than seemingly blaming and firing their juniors for not being the next Hamilton, who had testing under his belt, and was driving a capable championship-winning car from the off.

      3. Sainz has experience of driving Renault powered cars in Torro Rosso and now the Works team. He may have valuable knowledge of how to extract the best from the engine and power unit having experienced both from a customer team’s view as well as works team view. That is valuable knowledge towards building a Renault powered car of which McLaren has no past experience.

        1. Is it an important thing to know when to race with your engine in e certain setting, if you don’t have a clue about the differences between the settings? Are you expecting Sainz to be a mastermind at chess, just by knowing the start position on the board, and some basic knowledge about the direction the chess pieces can go?

    3. Can’t help but think McLaren’s future short-term happiness would have been better served by urging other teams to sign Norris, and keeping Vandoorne as a useful reference point who would probably thrive as an equal to an average driver like Sainz.

      When your whole operation is a mess and you need to turn the whole ship around, training young rookies should be way down your to-do list, unless they look like truly world-class talents (and Norris doesn’t).

      1. keeping Vandoorne as a useful reference point

        @neilosjames – maybe McLaren doesn’t want a reference point. Maybe Zak isn’t confident that the car designers can turn the car around in 2019, especially with the changed flow dynamics in the regulations. Maybe Zak would prefer to use his two new drivers as a way of excusing their poor 2019 performance by then trotting out the excuse “they’re still coming to terms with the car”.

        I’d be the first to admit that it sounds a bit conspiracy theorist, and I subscribe to the notion “never ascribe to malice that which can be attributed to stupidity”, but replacing both drivers when trying to salvage the car as well makes me wonder if there are other such motives.

        1. I think it is plain ‘stupidity’. @phylyp

          Sainz is probably the result of Alonso’s request to have him as a team mate. They forgot to withdraw the offer when Alonso resigned.

          Norris is their desperate attempt to bring in the next future star, only forgetting to learn from what happens when such a star comes into a rudderless team (like Vandoorne to McLaren).

          1. It seems like McLaren were a long way down the road with Ocon, and then when Ocon to Renault was looking like a done deal they moved for Sainz. Ricciardo moving to Renault shook the whole thing up and left Ocon in the lurch for 2019.

      2. It was mentioned by someone else before and Zak is also providing a hint that Vandoorne might not have the same will and desire to race for McLaren. They surely need motivated driver but it should be difficult to keep the motivation up in such context.

        We will probably hear from Vandoorne himself at the end of the seat attribution if he didn’t mind to leave the current McLaren team…

        1. @jeanrien I think this is a point we all seem to keep forgetting (myself included). I guess It’s difficult for us to forget historical greatness, but it’s difficult to imagine even rookie drivers wanting to hang around long at McLaren.

          @phylyp I don’t find your conspiracy that far fetched. People will go to quite extreme lengths to cover their own failings.

        2. I agree. The statement seemed like one of a mutual break-up, and not a text message dumping. Vandoorne must already be in final contract negotiations with someone. If not in Formula 1, elsewhere, where he can salvage his reputation.

    4. With a new driver lineup Zak bought himself atleast a year of excuses for an underperforming car with the board. This article confirms this to me, why replace the experienced driver, who knows why the car is a dog, to drive? You replace because you have no idea how to fix it, and hope he lands on his feet.

      Look, McLaren is not a backmarker team. The brand has high expectations. Alonso confirmed how much of a dog the car is. Yes Stoffel was slower but What Alonso got out of the car doesn’t put a smile on anyone’s face at McLaren. Keep Stoffel, he isn’t the problem, replacing him is a distraction. Zak knows this and as I said already, he is just buying time to keep his job. He knows he’s as expendable as Stoffel and is using a scapegoat. Fix the car.

      1. Unfortunately, McLaren is now a backmarker team.

      2. Mclaren is very much a mid fielder to back marker. Ambition and history doesn’t change reality. Mclaren dominated as Honda (1980s) and did well as Mercedes works team. There is no way that they will suddenly win as a renault customer.

        It’s sad that these mighty teams fall, in Claire William’s head her team should be at the front too but they havent been a force since the mid 90s.

    5. I don’t agree with that, Sainz isn’t a top class drivers but he can deliver 100% of what the car can do.

      1. If we are totally honest, no driver can get more out of the car than possible :D So you are basically implying Sainz gets everything out of it and nobody can do better if he gets 100% out of the car. I do agree that Sainz isn’t a top driver. But I don’t think he always does get the most out of a car. He does make several mistakes and doesn’t always look to be consistently fast.

    6. What a relief,
      Booking tickets to Singapore.

      We don’t need no grid teenagers
      We don’ need sexist control
      No dark sarcasm on the race tracks
      Hey, FIA leave us fans alone!


      1. @Sergey Martyn There’s a double negative there, though, LOL.

        1. @jerejj There has to be, in fact it also should be in the second verse to be true to the original :-). Anyways, thanks to Sergey for reminding us of a Pink Floyd classic.

        2. In this case double negatives resolve to intensify the negative clause within a sentence.
          I doubt Roger Waters is uneducated.

      2. Excellent. Good on Singapore Airlines.
        No to Liberty thought control ;)

    7. Well.. If Zak wanted to do whatever it takes to help Vandoorne, he could have at least given him a reserve driver role at Mclaren. If either Norris or Sainz don’t seem up to the mark next year… Stoffels always in the picture to jump back in.

      I’m hoping Stoffel goes to Toro Rosso. He started developing in to a promising driver at the end of 2017.. And things just fell flat for him a few races in to to this season. I think he can develop in to a better driver in a less pressured environment such as Toro Rosso.

      1. Hey guys, I have this amazing driver that you should sign.

        How amazing?

        Top notch quality mates.

        Why don’t you sign him yourself?

        Well, you know…

    8. RaceFans will be unavailable later on Sunday due to scheduled maintenance of the site to improve performan

      Getting a party mode for Sunday

    9. I hope he’d still get a drive for next season whether it’d be at Sauber, or Toro Rosso, or somewhere else.
      – Regarding the Except that he hasn’t received a drive for next season yet.

    10. McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says he has already encouraged the team’s Formula 1 rivals to sign Stoffel Vandoorne

      Why would anyone sign Vandoorne if Zak Brown recommends him? Imagine you’re one of the top people at Williams or Toro Rosso, and you get a phone call from Zak telling you he’s knows a great driver that he’d love to have drive for him, but he’s already signed the contract with another driver. If that were totally true, then maybe that F1 driver hopeful might get a job interview, but once you discover this “great driver” happens to be an incumbent at McLaren, his chances of getting a job interview diminish considerably. If he’s not good enough to drive at McLaren then surely that would tell the people at Williams he isn’t good enough to drive for them too.
      My advice to Stoffel is to overtake everything that gets within DRS range.

    11. Johan Tolemans
      9th September 2018, 8:12

      How about he helps Stoffel and the rest of the McLaren family by stopping his disastrous leadership?

    12. I wonder if Zak’s mails to other teams leaders started by : “five reasons why I fired this driver in favour of a teenager and one reason why you should still hire him”… Ended by pleaaase

    13. If he were that good, then why were McLaren so eager to let him go in the first place?

      I think Vandoorne is good, but certainly in his 2-years in Woking, he failed to fully apply himself. I don’t think anyone in their right mind was expecting podiums/wins from Stoffel; but definitely that he matched the pace and results Alonso produced, and more often than not bettered them — something he was not able to do.

      The sensible thing for McLaren to have done was to put Esteban Ocon alongside Sainz Jr., where in my opinion, the Spaniard is on a similar level as Vandoorne in terms of speed. Lando Norris may just be the next great discovery of his generation (after Max Verstappen), but given his latest performances in F2 I just can’t see him being ready for F1 yet….

      But then again, Fernando Alonso wasn’t even a contender in F2 (F3000) during his stint there in 2000, only for him to work wonders when he got his shot in F1 in an outdated/underdeveloped Minardi in 2001. The rest, as they say, is history.

    14. McLaren wasted Vandoorne. He is a very talented driver but this years they haven’t given him proper treatment. Hopefully he can change teams and have a better season.

    15. Really Zak?

      If he’s that good, why replace him, especiallly for a teenager? Let’s not use the “some other team would have signed him if we didn’t” argument – I don’t necessarily believe that, and if your junior programme was set up properly, they couldn’t sign Norris anyway.

      Probably the best thing that could happen for the benefit of the hard working troops at Mclaren, would be for someone to stick some large pieces of duct take over Zak’s mouth. He’s probably the biggest embarrassment the team has at the moment.

      But he has a plan…..

      1. The fact TR was/seemed interested put Zak in panic mode.
        After that only shrapnel left

    16. Regarding McLaren being better at managing their drivers –

      The fact they’re trying to pawn the ones they have ruined and rejected back off on other teams is exactly what they usually do so no, they’ve not gotten better. They’re exactly the same.

    17. Lol, how many odd news…

      Kvyat, welcome back, once it is official.

      McLaren? Who are they? Mika in a real McLaren driving way to fast for what is a 15 milion museum piece.

      McLaren managing something well just does not seam right. If they are doing it so well, why are both drivers leaving?

    18. Donald F. Draper
      9th September 2018, 13:01

      BWHOAAAAA, now that’s a real race engine in that McLaren F1

    19. The sad part is how good William’s driver line up could be if they signed Vandoorne and Ocon rather than drivers paying for a seat. Those two would make a solid partnership imo.

    Comments are closed.