Fernando Alonso has labelled Stoffel Vandoorne's performance on his point-scoring F1 debut as 'outstanding', saying he has a 'great future' in the sport.
The reigning GP2 Series champion stepped in for Alonso at the Bahrain Grand Prix after the two-time champion was ruled out by injury in the wake of his mammoth accident in Australia, proceeding to score a point with a tenth place finish.
The only driver to secure a top ten finish for McLaren in the opening three races, Alonso – who remained in Bahrain to mentor the Belgian – was impressed by what he saw from the youngster, particularly his ability to stay out of trouble and maximise the car given his experience.
“It was great, an outstanding performance from a rookie,” he said. “It's not easy to jump in a Formula 1 car and deliver a result immediately. It was a difficult race with a tricky first lap, with a lot of contacts, and he avoided all of them.
“Qualifying was also difficult, it was tricky with the format as it was, but again he did well. In terms of performance, logically he needs to get up to speed because he was driving the car for the first time. Jenson showed the potential of the car a little more over the weekend, but this is normal.
With Vandoorne tipped to secure a race seat with McLaren in place of Button, Alonso believes he has a 'great future' ahead.
“In the race we were unlucky with Jenson because we didn't score the points he deserved, and lucky with Stoffel because to score points on your debut is a fantastic thing and he has a great future.”
Beyond his McLaren reserve duties, Vandoorne is racing in the Japanese-based Super Formula championship this year, qualifying fourth this weekend on his debut at Suzuka.