If Felipe Massa does return to Williams in 2017 (very likely), Lance Stroll will have an experienced teammate to guide him in his Formula One apprenticeship. The only other confirmed rookie for the 2017 season is Stoffel Vandoorne, who also happens to be paired with a Formula One master.
Alonso has already given some fighting talk ahead of McLaren’s 2017 campaign regarding the young Belgian, but in reality, Vandoorne will surely gain a massive amount of insight from the Spanish veteran.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen believes that Vandoorne will benefit hugely from racing alongside Alonso.
“He will have someone that he will have to pay attention to. He will have to look at what he is doing and learn from what he is doing,
[Vandoorne] is up against one of the best in the sport. He will be able to show properly what he can do because of that, so I think he has everything that you can ask for to make a future for yourself in Formula One.
[Alonso] has so much experience, and this experience is what you need to really pay attention to and learn from it as much as you can.”
– Kevin Magnussen
Vandoorne won’t just be there to learn and make up the numbers next season, and the 2016 constructor standings suggest that there might be a McLaren/Haas scrap in 2017. Belgian Formula One legend Jacky Ickx believes that his fellow countryman should set his sights a bit higher and target Fernando Alonso to put a clear marker down. Easier said than done.
“He will impress in 2017. Now, he must start the year with one goal in mind: beating and outpacing Alonso. F1 is a jungle and the only law is to have the edge over your team-mate.”
– Jacky Ickx
Alonso’s last inter-team defeat came at McLaren with Lewis Hamilton as a teammate. If Vandoorne can beat or even match Alonso, he will definitely secure a second season with the out-of-favour British team.