McLaren-Honda racing director Eric Boullier has confirmed Stoffel Vandoorne is primed and ready to jump back into the MP4-31 if Fernando Alonso fails his FIA medical checks but hopes the Spaniard will be given the green light to race.
Last time out in Bahrain Vandoorne was forced to make a long haul trip back from Japan, where he was set to resume Super Formula testing, to step in for Alonso after he failed his FIA medical test due to his chest injuries suffered in the wake of his huge accident in the Australian Grand Prix.
On his official debut in the MP4-31 Vandoorne claimed McLaren-Honda's first point of 2016 with an impressive 10th place on debut and will be waiting in the wings in Shanghai ahead of Alonso's FIA medical on Thursday.
“Despite the decision from the FIA medical team that Fernando was not able to race, the team prepared admirably for the weekend, and Stoffel did a fantastic job to score his and the team's first championship point of the year, in his debut grand prix,” Boullier said. “Once again, Stoffel will be on standby until Fernando has his routine meeting with FIA doctors on Thursday, and until then we will be readying ourselves as normal.
“Fernando has been recuperating at home and training as usual, and we, like him, hope to see him back in the car. We'll accept the outcome – whatever that may be – and plan accordingly.”
Looking to the other side of the McLaren garage, Boullier believes the team could have claimed a double points finish in Bahrain had it not been for a mechanical issue which forced Jenson Button to retire from the race.
Boullier says the team has learnt from the issue and heads to China with fresh confidence for positive results.
“While we definitely saw a reassuring improvement in our performance in Bahrain, we cannot take anything for granted,” he said. “It's imperative that we don't waste opportunities to score valuable points due to lack of reliability, as we saw at the last race.
“At the very least, we must learn from every situation, and in the case of Jenson's power unit issue, we've done so, so we go to China with continued optimism that we can try to maximise the potential of our package.”
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