Stoffel Vandoorne says he has been given 'no guarantees' about a McLaren F1 race seat in 2017 and looks set to combine his reserve driver role at McLaren with a maiden campaign in Super Formula this year.
The GP2 Series champion has seen his path into F1 blocked by current McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button and as a result is looking to secure a race seat in Japan-based Super Formula for 2016.
Vandoorne is believed to be in line for a McLaren race seat next year, with Button seeing out the final year of his existing contract while Alonso still has two years remaining, but the Belgian driver says he's been given no guarantees of graduating into F1 in 2017.
“It is difficult to say to be honest,” Vandoorne said. “I feel I am in the right place and McLaren trust in my ability. There are no guarantees for 2017 but it is a good place for me to be here and to race for the team.
“I've been with the team for a couple of years now and we have had a lot of success together and hopefully we can build on that success in the future and hopefully I can get a race drive here.”
Vandoorne says a race seat in Super Formula hasn't yet been finalised but he is anticipating a packed 2016 schedule splitting his time between the Japanese racing series while also supporting McLaren both at races and at its Woking base.
“We are still working on it at the moment. I am confident that the deal will happen soon,” he said. “If everything does go in that direction then it will be a very busy year for me being McLaren reserve driver, going to all the Grand Prix, spending a lot of time in the simulator, being at the factory with the engineers. It will be very good preparations for 2017.
“It is important to race something at least as it keeps you race sharp and fit. It gives you something to work for during the year, even if Super Formula does not have many races per year. The cars are quick, I tested one of them at the end of November at Suzuka and they have great cornering speed which is preparation for 2017.”
Vandoorne is set to begin 2016 as McLaren's nominated driver for the Pirelli wet tyre test at Paul Ricard on the 25-26 January alongside Red Bull and Ferrari.