Start, IndyCar, Road America, 2018

Vandoorne open to IndyCar switch for 2019

2019 F1 season

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Stoffel Vandoorne says he may consider an IndyCar drive next year but admits Robert Wickens’ crash has made a potential move less appealing.

The McLaren driver is out of a seat for the 2019 F1 season and said he may look at other championships if he can’t find another race seat for next year.

“There’s been a lot of talks obviously and not only in Formula 1,” said Vandoorne. “We’ve been exploring some different series as well which hopefully in the next couple of weeks I will know something more about.

“Until the Formula 1 door closes you’ve got to keep all the options open. There’s some interesting projects that could become a possibility for next year but at the moment nothing is done and I’m still a free agent.”

Vandoorne said he is interested in taking on the Indianapolis 500, as his current team mate Fernando Alonso did last year. However he admitted the injuries Wickens suffered in his crash last month played on his mind.

Wickens suffered multiple fractures across his body and spine injuries when his car was launched into a debris fence during the Pocono 500. The last official medical updated issued on his condition stated the full extent of the damage to his back remains unclear.

Vandoorne said the Indianapolis 500 is “a special occasion” but “obviously after what happened with Robert it’s sometimes not always that appealing.”

“It’s definitely one of the biggest events in the world and I think if you have an opportunity to compete in that and to maybe fight for victories is probably something very special. But there is a lot of risks involved as well. But you have to be prepared to take risks.”

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Alonso is known to be considering an IndyCar switch next year potentially with an entry run by McLaren. Asked whether he could see himself driving for McLaren in IndyCar, Vandoorne said: “I think that really depends on what McLaren’s plans will be.

Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Singapore, 2018
Vandoorne’s first priority is to find a race seat
“In the end I don’t think they have a clear view probably themselves what exactly they will do and how much they will be involved in an eventual IndyCar programme. Will they do the whole championship, will they do one race? I think until until the team has decided exactly what they want to do it’s hard to make a decision or see an opportunity with that.”

Last week McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said it was “highly unlikely” both his current F1 drivers could end up racing for the team in IndyCar.

Vandoorne said he would prefer to have a race seat in another series than a non-race role in F1.

“In a way to be involved in a Formula 1 team would be good. But the focus at the moment is to find a race seat.

“Whether that will be in Formula 1 or out of Formula 1 I don’t know yet. But to have a main programme, let’s say, and then if there is no opportunity as a race driver then I think it would be good to be still involved in some way with a Formula 1 team.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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8 comments on “Vandoorne open to IndyCar switch for 2019”

  1. He could run with Ed Carpenter, in that Carpenter runs the ovals and Vandoorne would run road and street courses, with an extra car brought in for Indy if he wanted to try it.
    Either way, I’d like to see him in Indycar; I’m curious to see his abilities in nominally equal equipment.

    1. Agreed it would be quite interesting!

    2. It seems that Ed Carpenter will have two full time cars and a third added for him for the ovals. One full time car is confirmed for Spencer Pigot, but the other is as yet unconfirmed. Alonso is one of the names going round for that car (if an Andretti deal falls through because of the Honda engine)

  2. Just give him the STR-drive (and Ocon a Williams-drive) for next season rather than Kvyat, for example.

    1. Or put him in Toyota nbr 8 taking Buémi’s place (if Buémi goes to Honda – Torro Rosso).

  3. I’d rather see him in F1. The overly optimistic, dreamy part of my brain is hoping for Vandoorne-Ocon at Toro Rosso, but the realistic bit isn’t holding its breath…

    1. Well seems like Verstappen said to the press he knew who it was and Stoffel wasn’t one of them. What value does that comment hold, we can’t know but it would explain Stoffel’s comments.

  4. I like Vandoorne, but it seems every driver rejected by, or not ready for, the F1 circus just assumes they can come to America and immediately be handed a good ride.

    I remember Pietro Fittipaldi saying he expects to be in the top 10 in Indycar just after coming back from his monster WEC shunt (he wasn’t). Ferrucci was loudly accused of having ‘no respect’ for other drivers in his first start (ok, this one’s no surprise). Even Rossi has ruffled feathers (and carbon fibre) with his aggressive overtakes.

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