Next year's drivers line up will be completely new for McLaren, as it has been announced that Stoffel Vandoorne will not partner Carlos Sainz in 2019.
"We’re immensely thankful for Stoffel’s dedication, hard work and commitment during his time at McLaren." Commented Zak Brown, McLaren Racing CEO, in a statement. "He’s a talented racing driver with an incredible list of accolades in his junior career. We’re proud to have played a part in his break into Formula 1, from his role as Test Driver to his fantastic points-scoring debut in Bahrain in 2016."
The Belgian driver had a great start in Formula 1, after winning the GP2 title in 2015 and scoring the first point for McLaren in 2016 while replacing injuried Fernando Alonso in Bahrain. It looked like the team invested a lot to make him become the perfect ambassador for McLaren, as it can be seen in the Woking Team's documentary "Grand Prix Driver". Unfortunately, a mix of combinations didn't give Stoffel the chance to prove how much he could deliver in Formula 1, as he was partnering one of the biggest drivers on the grid with a non - so performing car.
“It’s clear we haven’t provided Stoffel with the tools to show his true talent, but throughout our relationship he’s proved to be a fantastic team player." Continued Brown. "His work ethic is impressive, he has a great reputation within the team and we’ve really enjoyed working with him. Of course, we would have loved to achieve more success during our time together, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that he will always be a part of the McLaren family of grand prix drivers."
“I’m very grateful to McLaren for investing their faith in me over the past five years. I joined McLaren as a young driver and have since seen my career progress within the team from Test and Development Driver to Reserve Driver and then to full-time race driver." Said the Belgian driver, who faced, during these last days, a lot of rumors about his future.
“While we haven’t achieved the success we’d all hoped for, I’ve really enjoyed the past two seasons racing for McLaren and I have a great relationship with everyone in the team.
“My time at McLaren has been a great chapter in my career and I’m thankful for the opportunity the team, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa and Mansour Ojjeh have given me to gain valuable Formula 1 experience and develop as a driver. I intend to give it my all for the remaining seven races of this season, and will announce my plans for next season in due course.”
During the Monza Grand Prix Vandoorne himself said to the media that he wasn't thinking about this decision and that the team had "Bigger problems than this". A lot of speculations are going around his seat now, as several drivers are linked to the woking team, from Lando Norris (already a McLaren driver, he has drived two FP1 sessions in Belgium and Italy), Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez, who has already been part of the team in 2013, but surprises can not be excluded, as the Silly Season puzzle still misses some piece or announcement.
McLaren also made known that they will announce who is going to partner Carlos Sainz later this season.