Vandoorne: GP2 title would give me McLaren momentum
Stoffel Vandoorne thinks victory in the GP2 championship this season could elevate him above the dropped Kevin Magnussen in McLaren's junior driver pecking order.
Magnussen, who beat fellow McLaren junior Vandoorne to the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 championship, was relegated to reserve driver at the end of his rookie F1 season in favour of new signing Fernando Alonso. Vandoorne drove in GP2 last season and was the series' stand out rookie, finishing second behind champion Jolyon Palmer, and enters the new campaign as one of the favourites to claim the championship.
Vandoorne thinks he will have momentum on his side if he wins the GP2 championship while Magnussen sits on the sidelines and "disappears from the shelf" in 2015.
"It does not change much for me," Vandoorne told Belgian newspaper L'Avenir. "It's Magnussen [who] makes a step back to third driver. Who knows, this may be a chance for me because everyone knows that if you do not drive for a season, you will disappear from the shelf and it is very difficult to return. If I win GP2 I'll have the momentum."
McLaren appears to have locked both Alonso and Jenson Button into multiple-year deals, meaning a seat at the Woking outfit would be closed off to Vandoorne if he were to win GP2 this season. However the Belgian is hoping McLaren's new engine partner Honda helps his path into F1 by supplying another team in 2016.
"I think I'll spend as much time in the simulator to help the Formula One team, in which I remain very involved and a full member. I believe in myself but it's so difficult to know about 2016, Formula One is a very complicated world. The GP2 title is not a guarantee [of a Formula One seat], just a key. But it is clear in my head: Formula One, I want more than a third driver role. Honda will maybe equip other teams and it could be a solution if Alonso and Button are [staying]."