Despite not having a race seat in Formula 1, Stoffel Vandoorne will continue his connection with the series, thanks to his new role as the simulator driver for the Mercedes F1 team in 2019.
As a part of the agreement between the Belgian and his new home in Formula E, HWA, Vandoorne will have an interesting F1 role in the upcoming season.
In about six months, HWA’s entry in Formula E will be taken by its primary sponsor, Mercedes.
Along with, Vandoorne, Esteban Ocon will also take up the simulator work, along with his role as the reserve driver.
“I’ll be doing the simulator work in the F1 team for them, with Mercedes,” Vandoorne said. “That’s an exciting part for me as well, to still be involved in the F1 world, to be with the world champions as well.
“For me, it will be a very interesting move. I’m sure I can bring them a lot of fresh ideas, let’s say, but also for me to see the differences there are, because I’ve only been at work with McLaren in F1.
“It’s exciting for me as well to kind of have a bit of a fresh environment.”
The Belgian hopes the new role will keep him in touch with the current cars so that in the future, he can have another shot at the premier series.
“It’s definitely good to keep involved in the [F1] world because we never know what happens in the future. I think to be involved with Mercedes and to perform the work for them is good, they will know exactly what I’m capable of doing.
“We don’t know what the driver market is going to do in the future. It was a bit crazy this season, and who knows what it will be in the future. It’s hard to tell. It’s good to be involved and be prepared for anything that comes up.”
Vandoorne insists moving to FE is a good option for him, especially since there were no viable seats left in F1.
“I had a lot of discussions with Toto [Wolff], and their whole project let’s say, as it is Mercedes, was very attractive. For me what was important to be involved with a manufacturer, and to be linked with Mercedes and involved on that kind of level was attractive.
“I had the opportunity to go there, I didn’t really doubt about that, and I’m sure we can be competitive in the future. When Mercedes sign up to something, they always do it properly, and I’m 100% sure they are going to put a lot of effort into that programme as well.”
Speaking about his final race with McLaren in Abu Dhabi, he said: “It will obviously be a special weekend, with a bit of mixed feeling.
“From my side, I’m trying to enjoy it as much as possible. I think I’ve had a pretty good run lately, in the last couple of races, and I want to continue that to finish off the season. I’m not really looking behind any more. I know a lot of things have happened, but I’m being thrown into the next thing straight away.
“I don’t really have an offseason, I’m going straight into Formula E. That’s going to be an exciting challenge and a bit of an unknown for me as well, to go there, see how the race will go, and see how the season will develop as well.”