This year, Stoffel Vandoorne has doubled duty as the reserve driver for Aston Martin and competed in the Formula E circuit. However, his responsibilities are set to intensify as he plans to take on a full World Endurance Championship (WEC) schedule next season, in addition to his existing Formula E commitments. This will limit his availability for Aston Martin during Grand Prix weekends.
Despite this, Vandoorne firmly believes that he can continue to bring value to the British team. As he explained to F1 Initiative, “Obviously, it gets quite busy, and there’s only so many days in the year to get around. But I think it’s still possible to be involved with Aston. It requires a bit of management with all the parties, and everyone needs to be very aware of what the priorities are, what my availabilities are.”
The Belgian driver acknowledges that such a heavy work-load necessitates meticulous management. He affirms, “As long as everyone is on the same page with that, then that’s possible. I think, above all, it’s up to me as well to be very clear about that with all the parties, in terms of where to put my time, but also how to manage my whole travelling and my energy levels, because there’s a lot of time being spent on airplanes. I’m making sure that that does not affect my racing.”
Fortunately, Vandoorne’s travel schedule will sometimes facilitate his commitments. Namely, he pointed out that the Tokyo Formula E event and Japanese GP weekend events are sequentially scheduled, which could work to his advantage. However, he conceded that other instances may involve intercontinental travel. “What I want to avoid is to go from one continent to another continent and spending a lot of energy on that for nothing,” declared Vandoorne.
Currently, Vandoorne shares Aston Martin‘s backup driver responsibilities with Felipe Drugovich. With the F1 calendar set to comprise of 24 races in the forthcoming year, Vandoorne acknowledges the importance of having more than one reserve driver. Additionally, he advocates that alternating driving duties is beneficial in maintaining race fitness.
“With Aston Martin there’s myself and Felipe. So we’re two, and what you kind of need to do is to split that role. I wouldn’t want to come to 24 races and not drive anything. How can you ever be ready, if you need to jump in? As a racing driver, you still need to race, and you still need to drive. That’s kind of the best preparation to be ready,” explained Vandoorne. “Aston Martin understand that and they know that you have to race in order to be fit and to be ready to jump in. I’d say from that point it’s good.”
Vandoorne, who most recently drove for Peugeot at the Fuji event, is eagerly anticipatory of his upcoming full-time WEC tenure. “I’ve always been a fan of WEC ever since I first tried it in 2019 with SMP, and I did a full season in LMP2 in 2021. Then it was kind of always my desire to come back, but with a manufacturer in the in the top class. I’m just happy to now be with Peugeot, who have obviously got great history in sportscar racing.”
He particularly highlighted his excitement about the exponential growth and hype around sportscar racing, adding, “Especially in an era where sportscar racing is growing so much and has got such a big hype around it, it’s cool to be part of that. Le Mans is one of the races most looking forward to, it’s a special event. And I just hope one day to be in a position to fight for a victory at that race.”