McLaren-Renault driver Stoffel Vandoorne is generally seen as a driver who has not lived up to expectations. So far, his Formula 1 career with McLaren has been rather underwhelming, with Alonso beating him several times.
Last season, the Belgian was hobbled by the unreliable Honda package. But this year, a more trust-worthy Renault-powered MCL33 offers no such excuse for the youngster.
Vandoorne’s consistent under-performance in comparison with team mate Fernando Alonso has put his future with the Woking-based outfit in doubt.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who normally has an eye for young talent, believes that patience will be the 26-year-old’s biggest asset.
“For me it’s pretty simple with Stoffel,” Wolff said.
“He is one of the most talented drivers on the grid. He beat everyone in GP2 and when he came to F1 many people said he was a future Senna.
“Expectations and comparisons like that are difficult for any young driver. It takes time,” added the Austrian.
“You have to give a driver time to get kilometres and to learn. The whole environment is difficult and we had a good example last year with Valtteri Bottas who had a very good start but then it didn’t go so well.
“Now he has come back very strong. I have no doubt that Stoffel has the intelligence and the talent to progress and become a very great driver. I hope he will get that time.”
Vandoorne’s fellow countryman and three-time Grand Prix winner Thierry Boutsen has also pitched his support. But he has warned that the McLaren needs to deliver on his promises.
“I’m his biggest fan, but his future is at stake now.”
Stoffel Vandoorne was left to fly the McLaren flag after Alonso’s retirement in Monaco. Sadly, he could not manage to muster a point at all, putting them at a disadvantage in the fight with Renault.