McLaren announced that Stoffel Vandoorne will leave the team at the end of the 2018 Formula 1 season.
The Woking-based outfit on Monday confirmed the news of Vandoorne leaving the team after the 2018 F1 season, thereby ending a five-year association with the outfit starting as a test and development driver in 2013.
He was handed a F1 debut under unusual circumstances in 2016 Bahrain GP as a replacement to Fernando Alonso and scored points in his first-ever outing when he was competing in the Super Formula series after winning the GP2 title in 2015.
He was awarded a full-time seat in 2017 where he finished 16th with 13 points. However, his results this year tumbled down especially due to car performance as he sits 16th with eight points only to Alonso’s 44.
He has been heavily speculated to leave the team in 2018 itself but for now it seems he will see-through the season at least. “I’m very grateful to McLaren for investing their faith in me over the past five years,” he said.
“I joined McLaren as a young driver and have since seen my career progress within the team from Test and Development Driver to Reserve Driver and then to full-time race driver. While we haven’t achieved the success we’d all hoped for, I’ve really enjoyed the past two seasons racing for McLaren and I have a great relationship with everyone in the team.
“My time at McLaren has been a great chapter in my career and I;m thankful for the opportunity the team, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa and Mansour Ojjeh have given me to gain valuable Formula 1 experience and develop as a driver. I intend to give it my all for the remaining seven races of this season, and will announce my plans for next season in due course.”
Zak Brown added: “We’re immensely thankful for Stoffel’s dedication, hard work and commitment during his time at McLaren. He’s a talented racing driver with an incredible list of accolades in his junior career.
“We’re proud to have played a part in his break into Formula 1, from his role as Test Driver to his fantastic points-scoring debut in Bahrain in 2016. It’s clear we haven’t provided Stoffel with the tools to show his true talent, but throughout our relationship he’s proved to be a fantastic team player.
“His work ethic is impressive, he has a great reputation within the team and we’ve really enjoyed working with him. Of course, we would have loved to achieve more success during our time together, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that he will always be a part of the McLaren family of grand prix drivers.
“For now, we look to the future and to the remaining grands prix in 2018, where I know both Stoffel and Fernando will be pushing hard to fight for as many points as possible before we close the curtain on this season.
“We wish Stoffel all the best in whatever direction he chooses to take next in his career, and we’ll be supporting him all the way. We will announce our full driver line-up for the 2019 season in due course.”
With the announcement of Vandoorne leaving, it means the team will have an all-new line-up in 2019 after Alonso’s decision to quit as well. Carlos Sainz has been signed up already with the replacement to be named in due course of time.
Brown had named four drivers over the Italian GP weekend which included Vandoorne. But with the Belgian’s decision to move away, it means the team is left with Lando Norris, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon to choose from.