Interview with Stoffel Vandoorne, HWA RACELAB
Tony Hall: Stoffel, quick change of race seats from McLaren to HWA for this Formula E pre-season testing. So what can you tell us about your experience so far?
Stoffel Vandoorne: I am very excited to be here in the Formula E series with HWA. Obviously for both of us we are new to this series but between us we have a lot of experience so I am looking forward to this new adventure in my career and especially with the new generation Formula E car.
TH: What do you think of the current situation in Formula One today, especially for the young talented drivers who either cannot pay for their drives or others that can?
SV: Well, I think that has always been the case not only in this era but also in the past. That is just the way it is sometimes. There are a lot of extremely talented drivers who have proved themselves in other racing series and are ready for Formula One. Robin Frijns or António Félix da Costa who I have raced against in the past are just a couple of names who are ready for Formula One. It is what it is, after all there are only twenty race seats.
TH: You have had two days of testing in the new car, how have you found it?
SV: It’s been two tough days for us. We have not had the amount of running we wanted as we have had a few issues that have held us back. As a completely new team to this series we are learning all the new technologies and the new generation car. The main thing for us during this period of testing is to get our operations right and to be ready for the first race, so it’s not been about trying to be quick.
TH: Lando Norris, how do you think he will cope and fit in at McLaren?
SV: I think he will probably do well. He has done well in the junior series and he has got a good track record but we will have to wait and see, won’t we?
TH: Fernando Alonso – there are some in Formula One who say he can be difficult to work with, how have you personally got along with him as a team-mate?
SV: I have a good relationship with Fernando. I have worked with him for a few years, firstly as a reserve driver at McLaren and then two years as a race driver. He is obviously one of the biggest talents in Formula One and everyone knows his qualities. Yes, I got on well with him and we had some good times.
TH: Stoffel you have four races left this season in Formula One after this Valencia test, United States of America, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. What would you like to achieve in these final races?
SV: Yes, four races left with McLaren. It has been difficult these last two years for McLaren – probably the worst two years in their history. It’s been very unfortunate but I have made many friends at McLaren and really want to finish the season enjoying as much as I can. I know where my future lies now things are settled so that is good and I now want to finish the rest of the season as positive as I can.
TH: I read somewhere that you won 45,000 Euros winning a competition when you were racing in carts and that you used that to help get into single-seater racing. Is that correct?
SV: Yes, that was through the RACB national federation in Belgium. They organized a competition to help recruit new talent and I won so they supported me to get in to single-seaters.
TH: Stoffel, did you know Ron Dennis when he was CEO at McLaren and was he involved in helping you with your racing career?
SV: I worked with Ron during his time and my time at McLaren. Ron was the creator of the team’s modern version and had a strong impact. I made my first contract in Formula One with him and yes I had a lot of dealings with him.
TH: We wish you all the best in your remaining races with McLaren in Formula One and also all the best in your new venture with Formula E.
Note: Since the interview with Stoffel he finished 11th in United States of America and 8th in Mexico.