Outgoing McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne’s next step could be a full-time IndyCar drive in 2019, with Dale Coyne Racing confirming an approach for the Belgian’s services.
McLaren will have an all-new F1 line-up next season, with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris replacing Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso. While Alonso has already confirmed he is leaving F1, Vandoorne’s options in the series look slim — Toro Rosso had looked like his best option, but the Italian team looks set to confirm Daniil Kvyat and Pascal Wehrlein for 2019.
An alternative might be a switch to America’s premier open-wheel category. Vandoorne on its shortlist for next season and has Coyne has already entered discussions with the Belgian.
“We’ve talked to him, although I don’t know where it will lead, if anywhere,” Coyne told Autosport. “But I’d say he’s cautiously interested.”
McLaren is currently weighing whether to enter IndyCar itself, something it has been considering all season. CEO Zak Brown hopes to make a decision on the programme in the next few weeks.
“Yes, I think he’s an extremely fast driver, very consistent,” Brown told Racer. “I think he’d make a great sports car driver and a great IndyCar driver. I think he’d make a good Formula 1 driver, we just had a difficult two years.
“We have a good relationship. Obviously, it’s difficult when you don’t renew someone, but he’s a professional. We’re fans of his. McLaren would definitely race with Stoffel in other racing series and I think it would be great to see his story continue with McLaren.”
For Vandoorne’s current teammate Alonso, the future is equally uncertain. The Spaniard is continuing his World Endurance Championship (WEC) commitments until at least the next running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, which ends the series’ 2018/19 season. Earlier this month Alonso completed an IndyCar test at Barber Motorsports Park as part of his evaluation process about joining the series full-time. It seems more likely Alonso will make another attempt to win the Indy 500, which he could do without committing to a full season as he did in 2017 when he skipped the Monaco Grand Prix to contest the famous race with Andretti Autosport and McLaren.
Formula E has also emerged as a potential future destination for the two-time world champion, with the all-electric series’ CEO Alejandro Agag recently confirming he is hoping to get his fellow Spaniard onboard for the 2019/20 season.