Stoffel tops the time sheets in GP2 test
Ask any racing driver and they’ll tell you it’s not easy to jump from one single-seater category to the next – cars are mechanically and aerodynamically different, engines get more powerful, tyres (and tyre manufacturers) supply rubber that behaves in fundamentally different ways.
By no means does success in one category guarantee you success in the next.
For McLaren Young Driver Stoffel Vandoorne, simply pitching up at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit for his first-ever taste of GP2 ought to have been a low-key, exploratory affair – particularly as it’s become a category where more experienced drivers tend to prevail over rookies.
To go out and utterly dominate the test, top the timesheets in both the final morning and afternoon sessions, and smash the pole position time set during last weekend’s grand prix support race would have been scintillating, brilliant stuff.
Yet that’s exactly what Stoffel did.
More than four tenths clear of his closest rival in Thursday morning’s session, Stoffel proceeded to destroy Alexander Rossi’s 1m48.931s pole time to set a new GP2 standard of 1m48.657s.
Speaking of Stoffel’s achievement, McLaren sporting director Sam Michael added:
"Considering that he has never driven a GP2 car prior to this test in Abu Dhabi, Stoffel has done an outstanding job this week, with the help of the top level engineers at ART and DAMS.
"His focus has been firmly on understanding the operating characteristics of the Pirelli tyres, particularly how they compare to the Michelins he’s raced on all season in the Renault World Series.
"His natural speed and engineering discipline continues to impress me, and everyone here at McLaren."