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McLaren want upturn in qualifying form from Stoffel Vandoorne

Sky Sports | Updated: 2018-08-23 02:00:19

McLaren admit they want to see an improvement in Stoffel Vandoorne's qualifying performances in the second half of the season as speculation persists about the Belgian's future with the team.

Vandoorne hasn't out-paced team-mate Fernando Alonso on a Saturday all season and is the only driver on the grid with a 0-12 record.

"You'd like to see him beating his team-mate more often than he has," McLaren chief Zak Brown told reporters in Hungary.

"You'd love to see them split down the middle and beating each other every weekend."

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In their one and a half years together as team-mates, which has included 32 grand prix weekends, Vandoorne has only out-qualified Alonso three times and hasn't done so since the Malaysia GP in October.

"I wouldn't say we were disappointed because we know last year we gave him a very difficult situation, and this year we've not given him a very good car to work with," Brown said.

"Given Fernando's talent and experience he's able to adapt to situations that aren't great. We believe Stoffel has done an excellent job but we would like to see him beat Fernando more often."

He continued: "We're giving Stoffel a ton of technical support. He's been off Fernando, but every driver he's ever raced against have been off Fernando so there's nothing to be ashamed about by getting beat by him.

"Everyone has."

The pressure is set to mount on Vandoorne at his home grand prix this weekend, with Lando Norris getting his first chance to impress in an official F1 session as he replaces Alonso for Practice One at Spa.

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Vandoorne and Norris are both contenders for McLaren's sole available race seat for 2019, with Carlos Sainz already confirmed as Alonso's successor next season.

"That's the nature of Formula 1," Brown explained after being asked about the pressure on Vandoorne.

"it's a high-pressure environment and every racing driver knows that they need to perform at the highest level because teams are always looking for the best solution.

"But we're very much behind Stoffel, it's one of the primary reasons Gil [de Ferran] initially joined us, to help with the driver situation so I feel very comfortable we're giving him all the support we can while, during F1's silly season, having a look around to what the various opportunities are."

F1 will be back from its summer break this weekend with the Belgian GP, live on Sky Sports F1. The race begins at 2.10pm on Sunday, August 26. Get Sky Sports F1 - the home of every race weekend LIVE in 2018.

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