SOCHI, Russia — Stoffel Vandoorne will not accept a season sat on the sidelines in 2019, with the Belgian’s dream scenario being a full racing programme away from Formula One alongside a smaller role with one of its teams.
Vandoorne will not race for McLaren beyond 2018, with the team opting for an all-new line-up of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris for next season. With the number of remaining seats dwindling Vandoorne has accepted he is almost certain to be off the F1 grid next season.
Although he wants to remain on the radar of F1 teams for 2020, Vandoorne also wants to use the opportunities available in other series to showcase his talent.
“F1 is, unless anything out of control kind of happens and happens again, then maybe yes,” he said when asked if it was off the table as an option next season. “I think the chances of anything like that happening is almost zero percent let’s say.
“The priority for me is to have a proper racing programme, and obviously in some way, stay involved in Formula One, to still be connected to this world. I still feel I deserve a second chance in a good and right environment.”
Asked if he would consider accepting a role as a reserve or development driver for an F1 team alongside whatever he decides to do, he said: “In a certain way, yes. The priority is first to find a race drive which will be the main focus and target, let’s say, and then we can see whatever options will open up next to that.”
Vandoorne has been approached by IndyCar Dale Coyne Racing, while he also confirmed discussions with several Formula E teams — although he denied recent reports he has already tested a car. The former GP2 champion suggested he is closing in on a final decision.
“I’ve obviously been looking to the future which is normal. I think in my head, it’s pretty clear what I want to do. I’ve been in touch with a lot of teams and series for the future, and IndyCar has been one of that as well. At the moment, nothing is decided.
“It’s a bit of an evaluation to make really. Obviously you’re not only thinking one year ahead, you’re also thinking to the future. At the moment, I can’t really tell. It’s kind of hard to know exactly. To have a new challenge and having to go a few years, that’s not a bad thing sometimes.”