Stoffel Vandoorne feels he has made a breakthrough in terms of pace and performance over the course of an F1 weekend, which is allowing him to begin matching McLaren-Honda team-mate Fernando Alonso more easily.

The Belgian came into F1 with high expectations following a dominant turn in GP2 in 2015 but has struggled to make his mark during his rookie campaign on the back of McLaren-Honda’s ongoing troubles with performance and reliability.

As such, with Alonso by his own admission suggesting he is driving better than ever, questions had been raised over Vandoorne’s ability at F1 level.

However, after getting his first point on the board this season in Hungary, Vandoorne insists it is culmination of the hard work he has been putting in to improve his fortunes and he now believes he can match two-time champion Alonso for pace.

“With the experience I have now I’m much more able to direct the way I want to go,” he said. “The last few races as well have been very good from a performance point of view, matching Fernando on pace as well, which has been positive.

“Every weekend I’m making big steps forward and I’m pushing very hard with the team to get things in my way, trying to get the car to suit my style a little bit more.

“Every weekend we’re making positive steps. Also from my point of view in terms of managing practice sessions, managing a whole race weekend through qualifying and then the race as well is definitely going in a good direction.”

With McLaren enjoying its strongest weekend of the season in Hungary with a double points’ finish, Vandoorne feels the team should target being ‘fourth quickest team’ to the end of the year.

“It was good to have this double-point finish as well for the team, especially after having a very tough start to the season. It shows that all the effort that we have been putting in have definitely gone in the right direction.

“It’s still not where we want to be, definitely not, but when opportunities like this weekend come up then we have to take them. Hopefully we’ll have a couple more during the season and we can grab them as well.”

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