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McLaren confirms Vandoorne will stay in 2018

McLaren has confirmed Stoffel Vandoorne will remain at the team as planned in 2018.

Vandoorne replaced Jenson Button as Fernando Alonso's teammate this season after four years in the team's young driver programme and a one-off debut drive at the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix. McLaren has not revealed the details of Vandoorne's contract, but executive director Zak Brown said he expects the 25-year-old Belgian to remain at the team for several years.

Stofel Vandoorne. Dan Istitene/Getty Images
"I regard Stoffel as a super talent -- a future Formula One world champion in fact -- and that's why I've always been adamant that he should race for us on a multi-year basis," Brown said. "Before anyone asks me any questions about duration, we don't want to go into that kind of confidential contractual detail, but let me put it this way: when we signed Stoffel, we intended that he would race for us for a significant number of years, and that remains our firm intention.

We all know Stoffel's potential, and when we have a package fast enough to win grands prix again -- and we will -- Stoffel will be in the right place to score his first Formula 1 victory."

After a disappointing first half of the year with just one point in the first 11 races, Vandoorne said the announcement means he will now put his full focus into adding to his points tally at the remaining nine grands prix.

"I'm delighted that the team has now formally announced that I will continue to race for them next year, because I'll be able to approach the second half of my rookie season with total focus on the job in hand: namely getting the very most I can out of my car, my engineers, and everything and everyone around me.

"I've already learned such a huge amount in the first half of my first season in Formula 1 - from my engineers, from my mechanics, from Eric [Boullier], from Zak [Brown] and from Jonathan [Neale], and also from Fernando [Alonso], who is a brilliant driver and also an excellent team-mate.

"Last but not least, I want to say thank you to McLaren's partners and fans for their loyalty and enthusiasm - they are the best in the business - and also to McLaren's Executive Committee Principals, [Shaikh] Mohammed and Mansour [Ojjeh], who continue to put their faith in me."

It is still not clear if Alonso will remain at McLaren in 2018 after spending Formula One's summer break analysing his options for next year. The Spaniard has made it clear he will only stay at the team if it can win races next year, but with just 11 points from 11 races this season McLaren has rarely looked further away from the front of the field.

The team is due to make a decision on its power unit supplier for 2018 in the coming month, which could be a crucial factor in Alonso's decision. Renault is the only other option available McLaren, but improvements from Honda and some promising developments in the pipeline may be enough to convince McLaren and Alonso to continue for a fourth season with the Japanese engine manufacturer.

Author: Laurence Edmondson, ESPN UK
Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/20426909/mclaren-confirms-vandoorne-stay-2018

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