Debut win for GP2 rookie Stoffel Vandoorne
McLaren test and reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne was the undisputed star of the Bahrain International Circuit earlier today, winning on his GP2 debut in commanding style.
Competing for ART Grand Prix, Stoffel got off to an excellent start on Friday, qualifying in P2, just 0.003sec behind pole-sitter Jolyon Palmer, a GP2 veteran starting his fourth year in the series.
In today’s race, from the front row of the grid, Stoffel took the lead going into Turn One. An early pitstop then threw him in among the pack as various teams tried different pit-stop strategies, but Stoffel kept his head to maintain his position as the effective race leader throughout, eventually taking the chequered flag to win the race a cool 1.5sec ahead of Julian Leal.
Eric Boullier on Stoffel Vandoorne
"It was an incredible day," said Stoffel afterwards. "I had a really good start and after that I managed my tyres okay.
"I want to thank the ART team for giving me a really amazing car. On every lap, my engineer told me to get with the pace of Jolyon, and I was able to do that.
“I also want to thank McLaren for the faith they’ve put in me. Being a member of the McLaren Young Driver Programme is an honour, and it also exposes me to McLaren’s expert staff, who have advised and guided me so well.”
Stoffel’s victory on his GP2 debut adds to his growing list of firsts, for he also won on his World Series by Renault 3.5 debut at Monza (Italy) a year ago: a remarkable double achievement across the two ‘feeder’ series to Formula 1.
Next week Stoffel will be driving at the Bahrain International Circuit again, but this time he’ll be at the wheel of a McLaren MP4-29: his first ever Formula 1 test.
Busy times for Stoffel Vandoorne!