Vandoorne: The start of a new challenge

Date published: March 20 2018

Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso head to Melbourne buoyed by the team’s new relationship with Renault, hopeful for a competitive season for McLaren.

Fernando Alonso: “Finally, time to go racing! This isn’t my first time racing this year of course – I’ve already done a 24-hour race in Daytona and have a very busy season ahead of me – but I’m really excited about getting behind the wheel of the MCL33 for the first grand prix of the year.

“Our car showed a lot of potential in winter testing and, although we know we still have a lot to work on, we’ve already learned a lot about the package and how all the new elements to this year’s car work together. Australia is its first real test, and we need to work hard all weekend to bring all the ingredients together.

“Nobody can ever predict how other teams will perform at the first race of the season and that all contributes to the excitement. Melbourne is a great track and, after what feels like a long winter, I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do.”

Stoffel Vandoorne: “Melbourne is a really cool season opener. The first race coincides with my birthday, and I’ve got great memories from last year as it was my first grand prix for the team as race driver. Now that I’ve got my first full season under my belt, I’m heading to Australia feeling confident, relaxed and refreshed, and I can’t wait to go racing again.

“I’ve been working hard all winter on my training and spending a lot of time with the engineers back at the factory to prepare for this year. Although the regulations have stayed relatively stable, there’s still a lot to learn and our package in particular is very different from last year. It’ll also be interesting to see both the drivers’ and fans’ reactions to the very first grand prix with the Halo.

“I’m really excited – it’s the start of a new challenge for all of us. I’m keen to maximise all the track time we have on Friday to work on set-up to suit the circuit conditions and prep for the weekend ahead. We won’t be getting carried away as we don’t yet know for sure where we stand compared to the other teams, but now the winter is over we all can’t wait to get started with F1 2018.”