Stoffel Vandoorne returns to the cockpit of an F1 car on Wednesday, stepping into Aston Martin’s AMR23 at Spa-Francorchamps.
For the latest Pirelli tyre test of 2023, Aston Martin and McLaren have stayed around at the Belgian circuit for two days of evaluation and data gathering on behalf of the tyre manufacturer.
On Tuesday, McLaren’s test programme was carried out by Oscar Piastri after his disappointing first-lap retirement in the Belgian Grand Prix. Aston Martin’s first day was carried out by Lance Stroll, but a familiar face will return from a long F1 sabbatical on Wednesday.
Stoffel Vandoorne makes his F1 return
Vandoorne, who drove for McLaren in 2017 and ’18 after a successful debut in 2016, hasn’t driven an F1 car since taking part in the Young Drivers’ Test in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2020, where he drove for Mercedes.
Vandoorne had been signed by Mercedes as one of their two factory drivers in Formula E, racing alongside Nyck de Vries – the Dutch driver who was recently dropped by Red Bull from his AlphaTauri race seat.
After almost three full years away from an F1 cockpit, Vandoorne will step into the AMR23 in Stroll’s place.
The Canadian laid down a benchmark time in the wet conditions at Spa-Francorchamps on Tuesday, with the hours of track time given to wet tyre running.
Testing the intermediate and full wet tyres, Stroll did 70 laps and a best time of 1:57.697, while Piastri did 47 with a best time of 2:00.682.
On Tuesday, Vandoorne tweeted his excitement about climbing back behind the wheel of an F1 car: “Spa bound! My first time driving in green for Pirelli F1 testing can’t wait!”
Vandoorne is one of Aston Martin’s reserve and simulator drivers, sharing duties with 2022 Formula 2 Champion Felipe Drugovich, as well as being a reserve driver for McLaren. Despite his chance at driving the AMR23, a return to the sport on a full-time basis is unlikely – the Belgian driving for DS Penske in the Formula E Championship.
This never gets old. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/ssPQ9DwyLX
— Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) August 1, 2023