Former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne believes his career suffered because the team were more interested in two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso.
After two full seasons with the team from 2017-18, the Belgian was dropped and took up a Mercedes simulator driver role for 2019, whilst also competing in Formula E with HWA Team.
Speaking to Ziggo Sport, he said: “It was not always easy. Actually, it was very difficult.
“My motor sport career went almost perfectly up until Formula One.
“I won almost every championship I took part in.
“The timing at McLaren was probably not the best because the car has not been good for several years.
“Unfortunately, it was not the best years in my career.”
Alonso has become a key face of the McLaren set-up despite his departure from Formula 1, with his ties also stretching to the team’s Indianapolis 500 project.
The 37-year-old was also made a McLaren racing ambassador on 27 February, allowing him to help and advise the team’s drivers and engineers.
He will drive at selected tests to support the development of MCL34 and MCL35 for 2020.
Asked if the backing of Alonso hampered his Formula 1 career, Vandoorne said: “Yes. Unfortunately, I have never been able to tell 99 per cent of what happened.”