Vandoorne gets McLaren Formula 1 reserve role and ART GP2 seat
|Thursday, January 23rd 2014, 08:12 GMT|
Stoffel Vandoorne will become McLaren's Formula 1 reserve driver in 2014 and race in GP2 with ART.
The deal is part of a wider tie-up between McLaren, its 2015 F1 engine supplier Honda and ART, which also involves Japanese driver Takuya Izawa joining ART's GP2 line-up.
Vandoorne was already part of McLaren's junior programme, though he has yet to test its F1 car.
The 21-year-old Belgian finished second to 2014 McLaren F1 driver Kevin Magnussen in last year's Formula Renault 3.5 series.
"I plan to take my responsibilities as McLaren-Mercedes' official Formula 1 reserve driver very seriously indeed, since I very much enjoy immersing myself in the technical aspects of Formula 1 grand prix weekends," said Vandoorne.
"I'll do whatever I can to help the team's two Formula 1 race drivers, Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen, both of whom are great guys and superb drivers, to achieve as much as they possibly can this season.
"Going back to my own racing this season, GP2 is a prime feeder series for Formula 1, and GP2 cars are both powerful and fast.
"ART has an excellent track record in GP2, and I'm extremely grateful to Nicolas Todt and Frederic Vasseur, the team's two owners, for giving me this brilliant opportunity."
'HOMECOMING' FOR ART
Izawa, 29, is a long-time competitor in Japan's Super Formula (formerly Formula Nippon) and Super GT series. Third in the 2012 Nippon standings is his stand-out performance so far.
"I am feeling emotions which I never felt before," said Izawa, who also had a one-off outing with Honda's World Touring Car Championship programme last year.
"This will be a big challenge for me. However, understanding the importance of what comes beyond this challenge, I view it as a project where I definitely have to succeed.
"Of course, I feel pressure. However, I should be confident with what I learned during the six years I competed in the top category in Japan."
ART ran Lewis Hamilton to the 2006 GP2 title with McLaren's blessing, and Vasseur said he was delighted to resume that relationship.
"It's a bit of a homecoming in some respects and I am truly delighted to be working hand in hand with McLaren and Honda," he said.
"ART Grand Prix is also very happy to have two talented drivers, both intelligent and determined."
2014 GP2 line-up so far: Russian Time Carlin Julian Leal Racing Engineering Raffaele Marciello tbc DAMS Jolyon Palmer Stephane Richelmi ART Stoffel Vandoorne Takuya Izawa Hilmer Daniel Abt Rapax Simon Trummer Arden Rene Binder Andre Negrao Caterham Alexander Rossi Rio Haryanto MP Trident Lazarus Campos Arthur Pic