I’m no grand apologist for Stoffel Vandoorne but McLaren’s desire to see him beat Fernando Alonso more often in order to keep his seat is a tall order for a host of reasons. The former GP2 champ is a good driver and once delivered McLaren their first points of the season standing in for Alonso but now it seems the team are keen on Carlos Sainz and this puts a lot of pressure on Vandoorne.
“I wouldn’t say we’re disappointed by Stoffel,” said CEO Zak Brown. “You’d like to see him beating his team-mate more often than he has.
“That’s the same in any situation. You’d love to see your team-mates split right down the middle in beating each other every weekend.
“He’s not been able to do that on a regular basis but I wouldn’t say we’re disappointed because last year we know we gave him a very difficult situation and this year we’ve not given him a very good car to work with.
“Given Fernando’s talent and experience he’s able to adapt to situations that aren’t great.
“We all believe Stoffel’s done an excellent job but we would like to see him beat Fernando more often.”
Vandoorne has had a host of mechanical problems and ultimately a chassis issue that set his season back and beating Alonso in that car or a car that isn’t experiencing mechanical issues is a tall order.
When McLaren reached the panic moment earlier this season and realized their chassis wasn’t delivering, it began making continuous changes including an all-new chassis for Vandoorne. As new team boss, Gil de Ferran points out, that happens to be a real challenge and a particular skill that Alonso has.
“We’ve been trying to figure out how to progress with the car and how to address some of the balance issues that we’ve been having,” said de Ferran.
“As a result of that, not only is the car not an easy car, but we keep changing things at a very fast pace.
“That’s very difficult for both drivers to deal with. Certainly for a driver like Fernando, not only do I think that’s one of his best traits, but his experience helps him a lot.”
Not every driver can instantly go from an F1 car to an Indycar to a Le Mans car and be quick right out of the box but that is one of the incredible talents Alonso has. He may not be showing the challenges of McLaren’s continuous changes quite like other drivers might due to his ability to be fast in anything he drives straight out of the box.
What would McLaren gain with Carlos Sainz that they do not have in Stoffel Vandoorne? Another driver to finish off the pace of Alonso? A teammate who could beat Alonso? Apart from the novel concept of having two Spanish drivers making up their Spanish armada, I think McLaren should be putting the pressure on their car development team more than Vandoorne at this point. When you have a car that can perform well, then let’s see what Stoffel can do against Alonso and others.
Hat Tip: Autosport