Vandoorne praises Alonso for support on debut

Stoffel Vandoorne says Fernando Alonso is helping him hit the ground running at the start of his first F1 race weekend in Bahrain.

The Belgian driver was only called up to replace Alonso on Thursday afternoon after the Spaniard was ruled out by injury. While Vandoorne admits it has been a busy 24 hours for him since getting the call to race, he is pleased with how he has handled the situation so far and thanked Alonso for his input.

“It was a bit chaotic when I arrived in the circuit with all the media attention and I feel there are high expectations, but I didn’t have any problems today,” Vandoorne said. “And I’m sure I’ll be able to do better tomorrow.

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“Having Fernando by my car didn’t put any extra pressure on me, it was actually quite nice from him to be there and giving his opinion on the set-up changes we should do, so I felt he was helping me today.”

And Vandoorne is confident he will continue to improve as the weekend progresses having never driven the 2016 car before Friday.

“It feels good to finally have the chance to take part in a Grand Prix. I had been waiting for this opportunity for a while now, I’ve been getting good results in the championships where I’ve been running and today things went reasonably well in both sessions.

“I had never tested this car, this was my first time on it but I adapted pretty quickly and I feel I made a lot of progress in the afternoon session. Let’s see what the rest of the weekend will bring.

“Today I had to learn a lot of things about the car and the performance will come, as I have to get used to everything. There’s potential to do a lot better but I’m not setting myself any goals. I’ll just my best with the team and then we’ll see what result we get at the end of the weekend.”

Vandoorne finished FP2 in 11th place, 0.7s slower than team-mate Jenson Button who was a surprise third.

REPORT: Rosberg heads Hamilton and Button in FP2

AS IT HAPPENED: Bahrain Grand Prix FP2

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