Stoffel Vandoorne

Country: 
Full Name: 
Stoffel Vandoorne
Birth Date: 
26 March, 1992
Driver Status: 
Current

Stoffel Vandoorne Biography
 

The latest Formula 1 graduate from McLaren’s junior programme, Stoffel Vandoorne made his long-awaited step up full-time in 2017 after a rapid rise up the ranks that saw him succeed at every level.

Vandoorne, born in 1992, was a relative late-comer to competitive karting at a high level, only entering his first major events at the age of 16. The Belgian won his native series in 2008 before finishing second in the KF2 CIK-FIA World Cup the following year, doing enough to secure a €45,000 prize from the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium, giving him the means with which to move into single-seaters the following year.

Vandoorne immediately made a splash in the French F4 Eurocup 1.6 series, winning the title in his rookie season with six wins before balancing a year in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and NEC championships. Despite enduring a winless campaign against highly-competitive grids, Vandoorne did enough to secure a second season in both championships. Even with five wins in seven races, Vandoorne bailed halfway through the NEC season to focus on Eurocup, where he took the title by 10 points from Daniil Kvyat.

McLaren announced in the January of 2013 that Vandoorne would be joining its young driver programme, following in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton and Kevin Magnussen. Vandoorne was moved into Formula Renault 3.5, where Magnussen was also racing, for 2013. Even as the rookie, Vandoorne was able to prove his immense talent by winning on debut and taking four further victories across the course of the season en route to second place in the standings.

While Magnussen was crowned champion and rewarded with a McLaren race seat, Vandoorne found himself gaining velocity - and fast. A sideways move into GP2 followed for 2014, linking up with ART Grand Prix.

Vandoorne repeated his trick of winning on debut, taking a stunning victory in Bahrain. However, a slump followed that saw him fail to score any points in seven of the next nine races, prompting McLaren to tell its young charger to pull his socks up and bounce back. Bounce back he did, taking three wins in the second half of the season, enough to secure second place in the standings behind Jolyon Palmer.

McLaren kept Vandoorne in GP2 for 2015, giving him a very simple task: win the championship. Vandoorne smashed his way to the title, ending his time in GP2 with a record number of poles, wins and podiums. With Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso locked into the team’s race seats, though, there was no room for Vandoorne, prompting McLaren to pack him off to Japan for a season in Super Formula with the Honda-backed Docomo Team Dandelion Racing squad in 2016. His F1 debut would have to wait.

Or so it seemed. But when Alonso suffered one of the most terrifying accidents in recent F1 history in Australia and sustained a rib injury, Vandoorne was quickly drafted in by McLaren to make his surprise F1 debut in Bahrain. Vandoorne excelled despite the late-nature of the deal, qualifying 12th and finishing P10 to take home a point on debut, proving once again to the watching F1 world that he was more than ready to make the step up.

Just to really prove his worth, Vandoorne was also making waves in the Far East. Despite being in one of the most challenging championships around, Vandoorne was able to take his maiden Super Formula pole in just his third race, and ended the season with two victories to his name, good enough for P4 in the championship.

2017 finally heralded the long-awaited full-time move up to F1. Following Jenson Button’s move back into a reserve F1 role and ambassadorial capacity for McLaren, a space was freed up for Vandoorne to join McLaren, making him the latest product of its junior programme to secure a race seat. While Lewis Hamilton went on to enjoy great success at Woking, Magnussen lasted just a season - which side of the fence will Vandoorne fall on?