Vandoorne reads the manual to get up to speed

Fri Apr 1, 2016 4:03pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

MANAMA (Reuters) - McLaren reserve Stoffel Vandoorne did his homework on the long flight from Japan to arrive in Bahrain fully up to speed for his Formula One grand prix debut on Friday.

The 24-year-old Belgian stand-in, who won the GP2 support series last year and has been tipped for great things in F1, ended the day 11th fastest in second practice and said it had been a good start.

"I have spent my time well on the plane," he said.

"I did a lot of reading through all the documents on the plane and I felt very prepared today. I've done a lot of simulator work over the last months in the factory as well," added the rookie.

Vandoorne, who was testing for the Super Formula series in Japan, got the call from McLaren racing director Eric Boullier to fly to Manama after Fernando Alonso failed a medical following his big crash at the Australian season-opener.

He had already been put on stand-by, but was not expecting to be summoned.

"Usually drivers pass those tests quite easily and when I got the call I was obviously very excited," the Belgian told reporters.

"I think I have to enjoy this opportunity... I know a lot of the guys so it makes my life a bit easier to go and work with them. It's definitely never an ideal situation to just jump in the car without any testing but so far this Friday it's been very good."   Continued...

Formula One - Bahrain Grand Prix - Sakhir, Bahrain - 01/04/16 - McLaren F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium drives during the first practice. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed.