Stoffel Vandoorne concedes the 2018 Formula 1 finale will be met with mixed emotions as he says goodbye to the sport and McLaren.

The Belgian driver will leave F1 after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of his switch to Formula E, with the 2018-19 season beginning in three weeks, and will end a five-year partnership at McLaren.

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Having impressed in an impromptu F1 debut as Fernando Alonso’s stand-in at the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix, Vandoorne’s struggles to impress have dovetailed McLaren’s own frustrations in its final year of collaboration with Honda before an underwhelming debut season with Renault engines.

Vandoorne, who has one point fewer than his 2017 tally going into the final round in Abu Dhabi, is hoping to bow out on a high but feels it is the right time for a fresh start.

“I’m heading to Abu Dhabi with mixed emotions,” Vandoorne said. “Although I’ve spent two years as a Formula 1 driver with McLaren, I’ve been with the team for five years and call many of them my friends.

“I’ve built a great relationship with McLaren and it’s been a significant part of my life. My final grand prix as a McLaren driver on Sunday will be sentimental, but also the right time to say goodbye to this chapter in my career.

“I want to leave Abu Dhabi on a high, so we’ll be putting everything we can into maximising our weekend and getting the most out of it. I have great memories from Abu Dhabi in my junior career, and it’s a really cool atmosphere as you race from day into night.

“I’m excited for the next challenge – which begins in only a few weeks – but I also want to enjoy every moment in the car and with the team this weekend for the final time.”

Vandoorne joins the Mercedes-support HWA Racelab Formula E team for the 2018-19 season.

 

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