McLaren junior and GP2 Series leader Stoffel Vandoorne says he feels he is ready to make the step up to Formula 1 next season, but says it is too early to consider the potentially limited options available to him.
The highly-rated Belgian has been tipped for stardom since winning the Formula Renault 2.0 Championship in his rookie year in 2012, before going on to finish runner-up to Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer respectively in his first attempt at Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2.
Currently in the midst of his second season of GP2 with ART Grand Prix, McLaren Development Driver Vandoorne is dominating after four rounds following four feature race wins, while he recently notched up a new record of seven consecutive pole positions.
Going forward, however, Vandoorne's career looks less certain, the contracts of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso ensuring no space at McLaren and even if there was, the team is likely to feel obligated to reinstate Magnussen after he was dropped for 2015.
However, though Vandoorne feels he would be ready for F1 in 2016, he says he is in no rush to determine his future, adding that he is sure McLaren will continue aiding his career.
“I do feel ready for Formula One, in my second season of GP2 I am leading the championship. Still my main focus is winning GP2 in the best way possible. We'll see what happens. I still have regular talks with Ron and with Eric about what happens with the opportunity. But it's still too early to conclude something and know what is going to happen.
“I've been with McLaren for three years now, they've always fully supported my career. I had the chance after winning Formula Renault to join their young driver programme and up to now I've had no regrets, thanks to them I have been racing in World Series and I have been racing in GP2 as well.
“Without them I wouldn't have even got the chance to drive and prove myself. I trust McLaren. We'll see what happens in the future. I think they will take care of me.
Behind the scenes, it is believed Honda is ultimately keen to supply a second team, potentially opening an opportunity for Magnussen and Vandoorne to be placed there. However, the poor performance and reliability of this year's power unit has deterred teams from coming forward for a supply.
Furthermore, even if Honda was to go ahead and supply a second team, it could favour a Japanese driver, namely Vandoorne's ART team-mate Nobu Matsushita, also a podium winner in 2015. Teams linked to a possible engine supply include Manor, particularly as it could lose its Ferrari supply in the wake of Haas' arrival.