Stoffel Vandoorne will complete the SMP Racing line-up for the two upcoming races of the World Endurance Championship.The Belgian will drive the Russian BR1 ¹11 prototype alongside Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin in Spa-Francorchamps and in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. Brendon Hartley who was earlier announced to race with SMP Racing at Spa has other commitments during the Le Mans race week and has agreed to give way to Stoffel in order to let him and the team be better prepared for the 24 hours race in June.
Jenson Button commented: “I decided to withdraw from the FIA WEC for the 2019 Le Mans race. I really enjoyed driving for SMP Racing and was happy to be on the podium with this team, but I decided that now I need to spend more time at home with my fiancé during her pregnancy rather than two weeks at Le Mans. The decision has been made easier for me as I feel that the Toyota is currently unbeatable.”
Stoffel Vandoorne said: “I am very pleased to join SMP Racing and drive the BR1 ¹11 prototype in my home race in Spa-Francorchamps and in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. The LMP1 cars are really demanding and their performances are very close to Formula 1. I will have the opportunity to re-join ART Grand Prix and a lot of people that I’ve been working with during my succesful campaign in GP2. Also, it´s great to work alongside such experienced drivers as Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin. My objective is to contribute to the Team’s performance and work in collaboration with all drivers to develop the BR1 prototype and to make a good impression.”
SMP Racing driver Mikhail Aleshin also commented: “I welcome Stoffel to our team. He is a professional of the highest class and has a good experience, including in Formula 1, where he drove for the McLaren Team. It is great that Stoffel will spend with us several races. We thank Brendon who helped our team to finish on the podium at Sebring. Brendon drove perfectly and his input into the work on the BR1 was very valuable”
SMP Racing driver Vitaly Petrov said: “I understand the decision of Jenson and I wish him and his family all the best. Our SMP Racing Team now needs a driver who will be able to successfully drive in the final two rounds of the FIA WEC and I'm happy that Stoffel has joined us. The race in Spa-Francorchamps will help him to get used to the championship and to prepare for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I hope he will adapt quickly and we will support him along the way”
The 27-year-old Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne is a multiple winner of various formula championships. He won the Formula Renault 2.0 European Cup in 2012, was the Vice-Champion in the World Series by Renault 3.5 in 2013 and won GP2 Series in 2015. In 2016-2018 Vandoorne took part in Formula 1 as part of the McLaren Team. In 2019, Stoffel took up a simulator driver role with the Mercedes AMG PetronasF1 Team alongside his HWA Racelab Formula E racing programme, where he scored the first podium finish in the recent Rome ePrix.
Calendar of the upcoming races of the FIA WEC Super Season 2018-2019:May 4, 2019 – 6 hours of Spa (Belgium)
June 15-16, 2019 – 24 Hours of Le Mans (France).