August 23, 2017 / 10:43 AM / a year ago

Motor racing: Vandoorne staying at McLaren in 2018

LONDON (Reuters) - Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne will continue to race for struggling former world champions McLaren next season, the Formula One team announced on Wednesday ahead of his home race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Formula One - F1 - Azerbaijan Grand Prix - Baku, Azerbaijan - June 22, 2017. McLaren Formula One driver Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium during the news conference. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

The newcomer has scored just one point so far this season, with McLaren struggling to get strong performances from their Honda engine.

“I’m delighted that the team has now formally announced that I will continue to race for them next year, because I’ll be able to approach the second half of my rookie season with total focus on the job in hand,” he said in a statement.

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier said the plan had always been for Vandoorne to continue as part of a multi-year deal.

“That plan hasn’t changed, and I’m very happy therefore to be able to confirm that he’ll continue to race for us next season,” said the Frenchman.

“Like all rookies, he’s had to learn a lot in the first half of his first Formula One season, but we have great confidence in him, and he’s getting better and better all the time.”

McLaren’s other driver, Spain’s double world champion Fernando Alonso, has yet to decide his future and wants to be assured of a competitive car before committing to McLaren.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Keith Weir

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