Stoffel Vandoorne has reiterated it remains his aim to make his full-time F1 debut with McLaren-Honda next season but has teased he could pursue other options if a seat with the former title-winning team isn't forthcoming
Having run away with the 2015 GP2 Series title last year, the highly-rated Belgian has spent his 2016 season in a reserve role with McLaren alongside racing commitments in the Japan-based Super Formula series, but has repeatedly expressed a confidence that he will be a full-time F1 driver in 2017.
Keen to step up into a race drive with McLaren, with Fernando Alonso tied into a contract for 2017, Vandoorne is set to go head-to-head with Jenson Button
for the second seat, though McLaren says it is in no rush to make a final decision.
Nonetheless, Vandoorne believes he has other options beyond McLaren in 2017
and has warned he will pursue them if the British team isn't forthcoming with a deal.
“The main goal is to be in F1 next year, that hasn't changed,” he said. “I am contracted to McLaren and I want to be with this team next year. I've spent a lot of time with the team and engineers and feel we've been through a perfect preparation.
“I think everybody is interested in what I am doing. This year I see as a preparation year for next year and my main focus is still to get an F1 drive next year. I will focus on my role as the reserve driver but having a racing programme alongside that is a good benefit to stay race fit and sharp in any case I need to jump in the car.
“There is not much more I can really do to get the drive now. I would love to race for this team but I've always said if for some reason it doesn't become possible I am positive that there are other options available.”
Vandoorne made his F1 race debut this year
with a last minute call up to replace the injured Fernando Alonso at the Bahrain Grand Prix, the 24 year-old scoring a point with a tenth place finish.