McLaren F1 team feels junior single-seater style hurt Vandoorne

McLaren says sticking to the driving style he learned during his successful junior single-seater career hampered Stoffel Vandoorne in the early races of the 2017 Formula 1 season

McLaren F1 team feels junior single-seater style hurt Vandoorne

Vandoorne was promoted to a full-time race seat in place of Jenson Button for this year, but has struggled compared to team-mate Fernando Alonso so far, failing to escape Q1 at any of the first five races.

Why McLaren's new star has looked second rate

Before graduating to F1, Vandoorne won titles in Formula 4, Formula Renault 2.0 and GP2, and was a multiple race winner in Formula Renault 3.5 and Japanese Super Formula.

Unlike Formula 1, these categories all use a single make of chassis, and McLaren believes sticking too rigidly to the driving style that served him so well in them has hurt Vandoorne's form in F1.

"When you come from these kinds of [junior] categories, it's the same car for everybody - so you have a driving style you have developed around this car to drive them," explained McLaren racing director Eric Boullier.

"Formula 1 is different - every weekend we bring new front wing, new bodywork, new rear wing, new floor, so the car balance is very different.

"When you have been told during your young career to drive the car one way, in Formula 1 you have to be a bit more flexible and this is only experience.

"He is learning. The team has to move chassis-wise, set-up wise to go to his natural driving style - because every driver has a natural style - and at the same time he is moving out of that, trying to drive differently."

McLaren summoned Vandoorne to its Woking HQ before the recent Monaco Grand Prix and Vandoorne's form improved after holding a special round of talks with his engineering group in a bid to better communicate his needs.

The Belgian driver made Q3 for the first time in Monte Carlo, despite crashing at the Swimming Pool in Q2.

He was looking good to score McLaren-Honda's first point of the season in the race until crashing out under challenge from Sergio Perez after the safety car restart.

"I've been working hard with the team over the past couple of weeks to improve the relationship with the engineers and to get from the car exactly what I want and it's a step in the good direction," Vandoorne said.

"The result in qualifying was very encouraging, apart from the crash, but every time we were out on track we were fifth, sixth, seventh - we definitely had the potential to repeat that in Q3.

"It's a continuous development. I'm still new in Formula 1 and it's building that relationship with the engineers, trying to understand what you need from the car to be quick. It's going in the right direction."

shares
comments
Why F1 should follow IndyCar's engine path

Previous article

Why F1 should follow IndyCar's engine path

Next article

Toto Wolff slams 'baseless' claims Mercedes may quit F1 after 2018

Toto Wolff slams 'baseless' claims Mercedes may quit F1 after 2018
Load comments
The key details that boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory Plus

The key details that boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory

As the 2021 Formula 1 title battle winds towards its climax, the United States GP added another thrilling act in the Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen battle. Although Hamilton aced the start, Verstappen and Red Bull took the initiative with strategy and were richly rewarded, despite Mercedes' best efforts as the race went down to the wire

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a baking hot afternoon at the returning Circuit of the Americas, Formula 1 drivers were tested to their limits. As the pressure on the title contending squads reaches an ever-greater level of intensity, the foremost challengers again showed their class, but were outshone by a standout drive from the upper midfield

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement Plus

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement

Three years on from Kimi Raikkonen's last Grand Prix victory at Austin, he is now six races away from ending the longest Formula 1 career in history. His friend and former Ice1 Racing rally team PR man ANTHONY PEACOCK explains why there’s nobody quite like the 2007 world champion and why F1 will miss him (but he won’t miss it)

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material Plus

Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull Plus

How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be another close contest

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Plus

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Plus

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021