JANUARY 20, 2017
Vandoorne to fight and work with Alonso
F1 rookie Stoffel Vandoorne agrees with his McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso that their head-to-head fight will not be too intense in 2017.
Some have likened the new pairing to Alonso and then rookie Lewis Hamilton in 2007, which ended spectacularly badly.
But Alonso said of his new Belgian teammate: "He is not a driver to fight for the title against me now, because our goal is something else.
"We must fight but also work together and help the team to make this difficult period as short as possible," the Spaniard added.
Vandoorne agrees that as McLaren-Honda continues to build towards the front, the internal fight will not be too intense this year.
"The main goal is to work with Alonso to steer McLaren back to the top," the 24-year-old told the Belgian broadcaster Sporza.
"If we start to produce results, there will of course be some more competition between us. That is just typical formula one.
"But in the beginning I will obviously need to learn a lot," Vandoorne added. "It is perhaps the first time I have gone into a season not really knowing how it will go.
"But personally, I feel capable of competing for the world title.
"At any rate, with Alonso I have a good reference point. He is a two time world champion and almost the entire paddock still thinks he's the most compete driver on the grid.
"For me it's very positive to be able to race alongside him. McLaren treats its drivers equally so we will both have the same opportunities. And of course people will compare me and Fernando," he added.
New McLaren executive Zak Brown is also looking forward to the 2017 team pairing, amid reports he wants to open talks with Alonso about a new contract early this season.
"Stoffel and Fernando on the same team will be great," he is quoted by Sporza.
"Stoffel is an incredible driver and a future world champion. Of course he will make some rookie mistakes, but he will learn a lot from Alonso. It is not our intention to have a big gap between the drivers," Brown added.