FEBRUARY 27, 2019
Red Bull-Honda can fight for wins says Vandoorne
Fernando Alonso was not the only former McLaren driver in the Barcelona paddock on Tuesday.
Also there was Stoffel Vandoorne, the ousted Belgian driver who has switched to Formula E.
But the 26-year-old is also now working as a F1 simulator driver with Mercedes.
"It's not the best fun, but it's very important for me and my relationship with Mercedes," he told Ziggo Sport.
Vandoorne said he was particularly busy for Mercedes last week, when the reigning champions got their 2019 car up and running.
"I give information to the team and they give feedback to me about what needs to be improved on the car, and we then try those things in the simulator," he said.
Vandoorne told the Belgian broadcaster RTBF that he is in Barcelona "for a few meetings".
"It's a different role for me, but it's nice to have an influence on the car," he said.
"The way they work is quite different from what I experienced at McLaren. How they prepare the car, how they prepare for the season, and the efforts they put in to succeed."
When asked about the 2019 pecking order, Vandoorne acknowledges the reports that Ferrari is leading the pack.
"It's true that Ferrari is doing really well, but I think that was also the case in other years. They seem to start very hard," the Belgian smiled.
"We know that other teams are hiding their game, so we don't know exactly.
"I think Red Bull, with the Honda engine, will have a chance to get involved in the fight for victory. It's definitely no longer the Honda engine I knew from my time at McLaren.
"Whether they are able to join the fight for the title, it's too early to say."
As for his former team McLaren, Vandoorne said: "They were able to do more laps in one week that we did in the last three winters, but it's hard to say where they are in terms of performance."