Zak Brown says McLaren faces a “luxury situation” with the possible options it has at its disposal for its Formula 1 driver line-up for the 2019 season.
McLaren already boasts a strong driver pairing with double F1 world champion Fernando Alonso and the highly-rated Stoffel Vandoorne continuing on for a second campaign together in 2018, while it also has up-and-coming British sensation Lando Norris in its ranks.
Alonso is likely to remain with the Woking-based outfit for 2019 if its switch from Honda to Renault power results in a return to the podium, while McLaren has the option promote reserve driver Norris up to a full-time seat should either Alonso suddenly leave, or Vandoorne underperform in the next year.
“There are a variety of different scenarios and it is like flicking the jackpot – it could be this, or this or that,” McLaren boss Brown said when questioned about McLaren’s possible 2019 line-up. “We know what the scenarios are but we haven’t set any expectations yet because you would be predicting too early what you think might happen.
“We’re in a great position where we have three great drivers and two seats which is a luxury situation to be in so we will see how things go before figuring out what the future looks like.”
Vandoorne endured a tricky first season in F1 and was at times comprehensively beaten by Alonso, particularly in qualifying, with the latter coming out 16-3 on top in the head-to-head shootout. But the Belgian made impressive strides towards the latter stages of last year and Brown is backing him to deliver in 2018.
“Last year Stoffel was obviously in a totally different situation from Fernando where Stoffel was still learning some of the circuits,” he explained. “I think last year will be good for his development in a strange way because it put more pressure on him and he had to be quicker to analyse the situation and make the most of it.
“Now he has got to swap qualifying with Fernando as he got a big discrepancy in qualifying so I would like that split and the same thing for the races, he’s got to give Fernando a run for his money.
“I think any GP driver knows everyone is after their seat – not just Lando – so I think Stoffel is very focused and very physically fit so he can do a good job. We’ll see some good stuff from him.”
And Brown does not believe Vandoorne has been affected by Alonso’s ‘superstar’ reputation, adding both his drivers receive the same treatment at McLaren.