McLaren Honda development driver Stoffel Vandoorne believes that the car he races in Japan is tougher than the current generation of F1 cars, which are reputed to be notoriously too easy to drive.
The current formula of 1.5 litre V6 turbo hybrid engines has been criticised for not being physical by the more senior drivers after many drivers such as Max Verstappen were able to get easily acquainted with the machinery at a very young age. While the engine formula is set to stay, the aerodynamic regulations will change next year to make the cars ‘5 seconds a lap quicker’ and overall, tougher to drive.
Stoffel Vandoorne, who has been splitting his time between the McLaren simulator and racing in the Super Formula series in Japan, believes the cars in Japan are more physically demanding than Formula 1, the Belgian having deputised for the injured Fernando Alonso at this year’s Bahrain GP early in the season.
“Yeah, it looks like it will be more physical, that’s for sure. I think it’s positive” Vandoorne said of the technical changes due for 2017. “I’m used to driving quite tough cars in Japan which for me are tougher than Formula One cars at the moment. So I think it will be a positive that they will be a bit more of a challenge next year.”
“Already in the simulator as well I’m doing a lot of mileage with next year’s car. It’s changing all the time. At the moment it’s still very early but so far everything looks pretty positive in terms of how fast the cars will actually be next year.”
Vandoorne is set to race for McLaren next year as Jenson Button will be stepping down to a development role within the team. The young GP2 champion will be thrown in at the deep end of the pool as he will partner double world champion Fernando Alonso, but the Belgian seems more excited than scared at the prospect.
“I think it’s something positive for me to race alongside Fernando. Everyone obviously knows his qualities, he’s a double world champion and a lot of people see him as one of the toughest drivers to beat. So I think it’s positive for me to come in and be his team-mate. Obviously we’ll try to beat each other, that’s normal because we’re racing drivers. But as well we have to make sure we push the team forward for next year. We’re making big progress now and hopefully next year we can make another big step.”
Image via McLaren Honda