A brief biography of McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne, including his career history and Formula One statistics
Belgium's Stoffel Vandoorne is another of those Formula One stars to have begun his karting career at a frighteningly early age, taking the wheel for the first time in 1998 aged just six. Ten years later he was victorious in the Belgian KF2 Championship, and the following year he was runner-up in the CIK-FIA World Cup in the KF2 category. After that it was inevitable that he would progress into single seater racing, and he duly signed up for the F4 Eurocup 1.6 series in 2010 where he went on to claim six wins and three further podium finishes on his way to picking up the championship title in his maiden season.
Vandoorne then turned his attention to Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, and in 2011 he was able to clinch one podium at the Hungaroring and another eight point-scoring finishes during the season; the following year he won the championship by ten points, after a tight battle between himself and the much-fancied Red Bull junior Daniil Kvyat. Between them they ran riot and won 11 of the 14 races; by the end of the season they were more than 100 points ahead of their nearest challengers.
The following season it was on to Formula Renault 3.5, where despite four victories (including a home win at Spa-Francorchamps) and 10 podiums, Vandoorne had to settle for the runners-up spot in the championship behind Kevin Magnussen.
McLaren signed Vandoorne as their Formula One reserve for 2014 and placed him in the GP2 Series with ART, where he duly won on his maiden outing in the Bahrain feature race. He took three more victories that season but wasn't able to overhaul Jolyon Palmer in the championship and had to settle for the runners-up spot. The following year he achieved an altogether different level and dominated the season with seven wins, 16 podiums, four pole positions and five fastest laps, ultimately claiming almost double the number of points to his nearest competitor Alexander Rossi.
That remarkable display should have merited an immediate Formula One seat, but McLaren already had Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button on contract for 2016 and so Vandoorne kept himself race-sharp by competing in the Japanese Super Formula Series. His Formula One race début came unexpectedly when he was called up to replace an injured Alonso in the Bahrain Grand Prix where he finished tenth to became the first reserve driver to score points on his maiden appearance since Sebastian Vettel in 2007. Vandoorne will take over Button's race seat full time next year, following the Briton's decision to take a sabbatical in 2017.