Jenson Button has warned Stoffel Vandoorne that it will be “tough” stepping up to a McLaren race-seat, especially as he will be partnering Fernando Alonso.
Next season Vandoorne, the 2015 GP2 champion, will replace Button as Alonso’s team-mate at McLaren.
It will be the Belgian racer’s debut campaign, although he has already contested one grand prix for McLaren, this year’s Bahrain race, which he finished in tenth place.
Button, though, has warned him that moving up to a full-time drive with McLaren is not easy given the enormity of the team.
“To be fair to Stoffel he’s achieved a lot in his career,” Button told Sky Sports News. “But most drivers who get to drive for McLaren have done a very good job in their career before they get there.
“He’s had the best schooling because he’s been with the team since 2013 and this year he’s basically shadowed Fernando and myself. He’s been at every race and he’s been done everything apart from driving the car.
“He’s learned so much but it’s still a difficult role to be a driver for McLaren – they’re one of the biggest teams in the world with so much history – and he’s alongside Fernando Alonso so it’s tough.”
And there is added pressure as well as Button has a contract in place for the 2018 championship and could replace either Vandoorne or Alonso.
The Brit added: “Hopefully for his sake he does a good job. If he does, he’ll have a long and exciting career with McLaren in the future.
“But obviously if you don’t perform in your first year that has consequences as well so there’s always pressure.
“Also, I’m in the background as well. That’s one thing Fernando said. I’m the only driver who has a contract for 2018!”