Stoffel Vandoorne says the exit of Kevin Magnussen from the McLaren team will be used as an example to ensure his likely reserve role with the team will include a race drive elsewhere too.
The newly crowned GP2 Series champion is widely expected to be promoted to official reserve and test driver at McLaren-Honda for next season in place of Magnussen, who exited the team last month after failing to land a race seat for 2016.
However, with no formal deal signed as yet, it is understood that Vandoorne is pushing for a contract that will allow him to race in another championship alongside his F1 duties, with the Japanese-based Super Formula series – where Honda is an engine supplier alongside Toyota – expected to be the preferred option.
“I definitely want to race something next year,” he said. “What it will be we don't know yet. There are definitely some options and we are talking about them. I am probably going to be the reserve driver at McLaren, which is a good position to be in. Obviously I want to race something as well, just to stay sharp and stay focused on racing as well.”
“I think the Super Formula car is good. It is as quick as GP2, if not quicker. If I am reserve driver next year I will have to keep racing. Super Formula is one of the options, but it is not decided if I am going to do that.
Indeed, though the Belgian accepts the exit of Magnussen – who spent much of 2015 on the sidelines before he was dropped altogether last month – plays on his mind, he hopes it will mark a shift in policy, particularly when it comes to securing assurances for 2017.
“I think it is a little bit of an example. I do feel I need to do something to stay sharp and fit, so if any opportunity arises I am ready to jump in. Being involved in McLaren keeps me in a good position. I should be in a good position.
“Ultimately it [a 2017 assurance] is what I have to achieve because it would be no use to do preparation for 2017 and then find out there is nothing.”