McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne doesn’t feel he is off Fernando Alonso’s pace despite the 2018 Formula 1 results going in the opposite direction, with the Belgian 24 points behind Alonso in the drivers’ standings.

The two-time F1 champion (32) sits seventh having scored in five of the six races, while Vandoorne (8) is 15th scoring in only three races. From outside, the 26-year-old has looked slightly out-of-place in the season so far.

However, Vandoorne thinks otherwise. He believes they are closely matched to each other, barring some occasions which is normal. “I don’t think it [results] tells the whole story,” he said in Canadian Grand Prix’s press conference.

“Obviously, the statistics tell maybe that, but I think in reality we are very, very closely matched. In terms of where I was last year, I feel I’m in a much better position this year. I think things have not always gone my way.

“We lacked a little bit of luck on some occasions. And some occasions Fernando was just the quicker one as well, which is normal. I think we are going in the right direction. The team is moving forward. We’ve obviously had a tough start to the season.

“There were a lot of expectations on our team and we’ve not managed to perform as expected. So we keep improving race after race and hopefully this weekend we can show we made another step forward,” he added.

His results have come under scrutiny especially as McLaren’s reserve driver Lando Norris continues to impress in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in his rookie season. Meanwhile, on overall terms, McLaren’s results are being critically looked on as well.

The team largely pinned the outfit’s shortcomings on Honda last year, but despite scoring regular points to be fifth in the standings this year, it has been beaten fair and square by Red Bull Racing while it battles with Renault – all three using the same engine.

“It’s been a little bit of a difficult period,” admitted Vandoorne. “I had a retirement in Spain and then Fernando had a retirement in Monaco. Obviously that was not ideal, but I think we are still very close in this midfield and one weekend we are a bit stronger than another one.

“The last couple of races have been difficult tracks for us as well in terms of overtaking. I think this weekend is a different story again. It’s a new weekend, this track is completely different to the other ones and hopefully should provide us some opportunities.”

The team lost fourth place to Renault in the last two grand prixs but they are only separated by six points in the constructors’ standings – with sixth placed Force India 14 points behind McLaren ahead of Canadian GP.