Vandoorne 'more comfortable than ever'
20 November 2017 – Stoffel Vandoorne says that he feels "more comfortable than ever" at McLaren after making significant progress over the course of his first season in Formula 1.
Vandoorne entered F1 with high expectations, after storming to the GP2 crown, and impressing as a stand-in for the injured Fernando Alonso at last year's Bahrain Grand Prix.
But he was unable to make it out of Q1 at the first five events of 2017, while experienced team-mate Alonso made Q2 four times and Q3 on home soil in Spain.
However, following "a lot of dedicated hard work", Vandoorne made strides, out-qualifying Alonso for the first time at Silverstone, and scoring his first point at the Hungaroring.
Since returning from the summer break, Vandoorne has logged two more points finishes, racing to seventh in Singapore and Malaysia, and sits just behind Alonso in the standings.
Reflecting on his season, Vandoorne said: "This year has been full of ups and downs for us.
"For me, I had a difficult start to the year, but as the season has progressed I've worked really hard with the team and feel that I've come into my own.
"I'm more comfortable in the cockpit now than ever before, and my rate of progression over the second half of the season has been very satisfying.
"It's been a challenging year, but ultimately a rewarding one because I've learned a lot, and I can't wait to see what next year will bring.
"We'll be pushing hard this weekend to finish the year on a high."
On this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, he added: "It's good to finish the season at a circuit I know well after a couple of new ones in the past few races.
"I've driven at Yas Marina Circuit a number of times – in testing and also in GP2, and I've won here twice, which are really special memories.
"I'm looking forward to tackling it again in a Formula 1 car – it's a tricky, technical circuit, but rewarding, and because of its configuration it's pretty difficult to overtake."