Clip The Apex
Its been announced this week that Belgian Mclaren development driver Stoffel Vandoorne will return to the GP2 series in 2015 again driving for the ART team. Vandoorne is hoping a successful championship year with ART will be the pathway for him to get into F1 for 2016, preferably with Mclaren, but is that actually really likely to happen?
Vandoorne’s potential is not in any doubt. He won the F4 Eurocup title in 2010 and then had a close tussle with Dani Kvyat in Eurocup 2.0 in 2012, a tussle he eventually won and took the title. In 2013 he jumped up to the WSR 3.5 series and scored a win on his debut. He scored 4 wins in total with 10 podiums in 17 races, all this in the much unfancied Fortec car as well. He was piped to the title by fellow Mclaren development driver Kevin Magnussen who had already done a year in the series and was driving the all mighty DAMS car. K-Mag landed himself an F1 seat with Mclaren and Vandoorne switched feeder series to join ART in GP2. Once again Vandoorne scored a win on his debut before suffering the same fate the majority of rookies do when joining GP2 and falling backwards whilst getting used to the difficult Pirelli tyres. To be fair to Vandoorne this only lasted for a few rounds and by the time he got to round 7 in Austria he was back up there with the front runners. Unfortunately for him Jolyon Palmer, again in a mighty DAMS car, was already out of sight but he did manage to haul back to 2nd in the championship with a further 3 wins and 5 podiums. He was cost better results by some questionable tactical decision by ART on occasions too, especially when the failed to pit him under the safety car when the entire rest of the field did leaving him in an almost impossible position. Anyone who saw his comeback drive that day can’t have failed to be impressed.
It's going to be a long, slow day at work so here's a profile of René Arnoux, one of the most difficult drivers to pigeon hole. On occasions blinding quick, on other occasions a mobile road block who made Jarno Trulli look like a rank amateur. He was also very well balanced with a chip on both shoulders.
I first saw René racing in 1980 when at the all French Renault team partnered with Jean Pierre Jabouille. There's an interesting comment in his Grandprix.com entry:
He was however hired by Renault Sport for 1979 as partner to Jabouille. As soon as he had learned the ropes and Jabouille had set up the cars for him, Arnoux became a strong force winning his first GPs in Brazil and South Africa and finishing sixth in the World Championship.
I think this explains the enigma that is René Arnoux, not very technically gifted but a real balls out racing driver as this video of the closing laps of the 1979 French GP demonstrates perfectly.