Stoffel Vandoorne feels he is “making big steps” with every Formula 1 race weekend he completes after a difficult start to his first full-time campaign with McLaren-Honda in 2017.

2015 GP2 champion Vandoorne stepped up to a full-season seat with McLaren at the beginning of the year, but failed to score any points through the first 10 races of the season.

Much of Vandoorne’s struggles were down to McLaren’s lack of performance, in turn thanks to the Honda power unit, with team-mate Fernando Alonso only taking one top-10 finish during that period.

The Belgian finally broke through last weekend in Hungary, taking a point for P10, acting as a sign of how he has been able to progress in recent races.

“The last few races have been very good from a performance point of view, matching Fernando on pace as well, which has been positive,” Vandoorne said.

“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, it is definitely going in a good direction.”

Vandoorne arrived in F1 facing high expectations after his success in junior categories, making his underwhelming start something of a surprise to the paddock.

However, Vandoorne feels that his learning curve in F1 was only made steeper by McLaren’s engine struggles, but remains upbeat about results that could be forthcoming.

“The start of the season has been difficult, not only from my side but for the team as a whole. We have had a lot of problems which hampered the running,” Vandoorne said.

“From my side, it took a bit more time to really understand what I needed from the car because of those problems. Lately, we have had good runs, we have been putting in a lot of work with the engineers, with the team back at the factory, and everything we have done from now has been a very good step.

“It’s been good progress during that first part. The margin to improve is still big. There are still a lot of things to come. That is looking promising for the next races.”

 

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