Vandoorne proves a point on his Formula One debut

Sun Apr 3, 2016 5:36pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

MANAMA (Reuters) - Belgian debutant Stoffel Vandoorne handed McLaren their first point of the Formula One season in Bahrain on Sunday while the team's two champion drivers looked on from the sidelines.

McLaren's official reserve Vandoorne flew in from Japan on Friday, after Spaniard Fernando Alonso failed a medical, and he seized the opportunity with the double world champion remaining at the track to give him advice.

His 10th place, after starting 12th on the grid, made him the 62nd driver since the championship started in 1950 to score in his first race.

Vandoorne had already out-qualified 2009 champion Jenson Button in the other McLaren, with the Briton retiring on lap seven with a power unit failure.

"This result was more or less what I expected," said last year's winner of the GP2 support series, who has been tipped as a big star of the future and has been racing in Japan this year to keep up to speed.

"The start was a little bit difficult. There was debris left and right, it was pretty hectic in fact, and there was a lot of fighting throughout that opening lap.

"I'm pleased that I didn't make any mistakes operationally -- I was really focusing on that side of things -- and I came away with a point, which was a nice bonus."

A single point would once have been considered failure by McLaren, the second most successful team in the sport's history in terms of wins, but they have won nothing since 2012 and last year suffered their worst season.   Continued...

McLaren F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium drives during the first practice. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed.