Stoffel Vandoorne: "At some point you have to go racing"

Things certainly haven't gone smoothly for McLaren during the pre-season. It's far from the dream scenario for Stoffel Vandoorne's debut season, but like the team he admits he is only starting his journey in Formula One.

“I still feel like a rookie with a lot of stuff to learn," said Vandoorne. "It’s all kind of stuff that you gain more experience by doing it. This is only my second race, Bahrain feels like a very long time ago. So, I’m looking forward to getting going.”

McLaren's reliability woes clearly signal problems for the team ahead of this weekend's season opener. Perhaps even worse, they arrive in Melbourne without any true indication of the work that still needs to be done.

“We’re kind of in a difficult situation at the moment," admitted Vandoorne. "We knew that before coming here. Now it’s about working together with the team to push as hard as we can to bring new parts to the car and improve weekend after weekend.”

As well as running some new parts ahead of Practice in Melbourne, the team is still playing catch-up, and used Free Practice one to run some aero tests in the hopes of finding additional performance. 

“We aren’t the only ones who are going to try out stuff tomorrow. I think all the other teams have a lot of stuff to go through and they will be testing things as well.”

But has the interrupted pre-season compounded Vandoorne's preparation ahead of the biggest year in his career?

“Of-course experience always helps to move you forward, and that will just naturally come over the next couple of races. At some point you have to go racing, at this point I feel like we’ve more or less done everything we could. I’m just looking forward to going racing.”

It's been a long gestation period for Vandoorne, after a fruitful season driving Super Formula which held him in good stead ahead for the increased g-forces of the new regulation Formula One cars in 2017.

“Super Formula was a good preparation for me because the cornering speeds they are doing are very impressive as well.

"Formula One cars now are very quick in the high-speed corners and for us drivers it’s just a nice feeling when you’re behind the wheel.”

With Australia's tendency for first lap incidents and retirements, it could well present Mclaren's best chance of points and give Vandoorne some encouragement ahead of what will no-doubt be a difficult year.

“From my side, and the team’s side, we’ll just have to make the most of the situation. The first race of the year is usually a little bit hectic, a lot of incidents happening. 

"We’ll try to stay out of trouble and hopefully that’ll benefit us.”