Oh, bless Stoffel Vandoorne’s heart. Objectively terrible Formula One team McLaren confirmed today that the long-suffering driver will come back for another year with the team as planned, reports Motorsport.com. Please keep him in your thoughts, as there’s simply little hope in sight for that team.
Vandoorne, of course, is the 2015 GP2 champion and young Belgian F1 rookie teammate to modern-day legend Fernando Alonso. It’s always been assumed that Vandoorne would stay as part of his long-term deal with the team, however, McLaren wanted to publicly confirm just that given that Honda can’t get its crap together on McLaren’s engine this year. (Again.)
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier told Motorsport.com:
When we announced at the end of 2016 that Stoffel would be a McLaren Honda race driver for 2017, we indicated that our plan was that he’d race for us for a number of years.
That plan hasn’t changed, and I’m very happy therefore to be able to confirm that he’ll continue to race for us next season.
However, everyone is still wondering what will happen with Alonso, who has had to put up with three seasons of racing irredeemably terrible Honda-powered McLaren F1 cars. Alonso couldn’t even catch a break when he skipped Monaco to run the Indy 500, because that Honda engine blew up, too. His contract is up at the end of the year, and he’s been very vocal about needing a competitive drive next year—the likes of which McLaren hasn’t been able to provide.
So, McLaren’s trying to tout whatever stability they have in hopes that no one will ask, where, specifically, are the #PlacesAlonsoWouldRatherBe. Renault is the only other potential F1 engine supplier that hasn’t shot McLaren down yet, and even a deal there seems unlikely as there are concerns that Renault would be spread too thin with four teams to supply. So, McLaren—and poor Stoffel—may be stuck with more Honda duds.
There’s a tiny smidgen of hope out there, though. Sources told Motorsport.com that Honda is finally making good, constructive progress on their F1 engine after reportedly getting some help from the engine builders at Ilmor.
Still, Honda’s forced to play catch-up in a sport where development moves at a breakneck pace on an engine that hasn’t been good for the almost three years that Honda’s been back in F1. All of that is super-bad.
So, please send good vibes Stoffel Vandoorne’s way as he continues to cope with the badness of this team, whose engine likes to fail early and often.