McLaren has confirmed that Stoffel Vandoorne will be its reserve driver as well as racing in GP2 this season.
Vandoorne joined the McLaren young driver programme last year and impressed in World Series by Renault in 2013 when he was beaten to the Formula Renault 3.5 title in his debut season by McLaren's new race driver Kevin Magnussen. As well as his reserve driver role in F1, Vandoorne will move to GP2 to race for ART
“I'm thrilled and honoured to have been selected by McLaren Mercedes to be the team's Formula 1 reserve driver for 2014,” Vandoorne said. “Equally, I'm really excited to have been selected to race for the ART GP2 team for 2014.
“I've been a member of the McLaren Young Driver Programme for almost a year now, and I've learned an enormous amount in that time. I visit the McLaren Technology Centre [MTC] at least once a week, sometimes more often than that, and I've done a lot of work in the MTC simulator to assist McLaren's Formula 1 engineers develop the new-for-2014 MP4-29 Formula 1 car.
“Equally, I've worked very hard on my physical and mental fitness over the past year, and the McLaren Young Driver Programme has been absolutely fantastic in that respect. The guys at Woking really know how to prepare a driver for Formula 1, and I've really enjoyed working with them. I still do.”
McLaren sporting director Sam Michael underlined how highly Vandoorne is rated within the team.
“Stoffel is a truly excellent young driver – fast, combative, consistent, intelligent and ambitious – and he's already made an excellent impression on all at McLaren during the year he's spent as a member of the McLaren Young Driver Programme,” Michael said.
“His technical input is first-class, he's excellent in our simulator, and he isn't afraid of hard work. He has a collaborative and engaging manner, and he's therefore as popular at McLaren as he is helpful.”