Aston Martin has signed Formula E champion Stoffel Vandoorne as a test and reserve driver for the 2023 season, opening up vacancies at Mercedes.
Vandoorne raced for McLaren in 2017 and 2018 before joining Mercedes as a reserve while racing for its Formula E team. Vandoorne won this year’s title but will move to DS Penske for 2022/23, and at the same time has a new Formula 1 team who can call on him as a reserve if required as he joins Felipe Drugovich as Aston Martin back-ups.
“It is incredibly exciting to be stepping into a reserve-driver role in Formula 1 – and I’m delighted to be doing it with Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team,” Vandoorne said. “I’ve watched with great interest how the team has developed and expanded operationally, and I know how incredibly determined it is to make progress in every area.
“Joining Fernando (Alonso), who I already know from my Formula 1 racing career, and Lance (Stroll), to help them develop and improve next year’s car will be a terrific job, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge – and reward – of working together with the whole organization at Silverstone.”
As well as the reserve role, when his Formula E commitments allow, Vandoorne will be leant on heavily for his simulator driving capabilities according to team principal Mike Krack.
“Stoffel has all the capabilities we need for this new and expanded role within the team: he is fast, analytical, hard-working and a fantastic team player, and will fit perfectly into our growing organization, working alongside our other test driver, Felipe Drugovich,” Krack said.
“The whole team is hugely motivated for next year, and the appointment of Stoffel, alongside Fernando, Lance and Felipe, gives extra depth to our fantastic driver line-up. This will be a significant role for Stoffel, and we will be reliant on him to work hard with both our track and simulation and engineering teams to improve our performance for 2023 and beyond.”
Vandoorne’s move means both of Mercedes’ reserve drivers this year will move on in 2023, as Nyck de Vries has a race seat at AlphaTauri. That opens up a vacancy that Daniel Ricciardo has been linked with, although the Australian insists he has not signed anything for next season at this stage.
Nico Hulkenberg is also not referenced by Aston Martin having been one of its reserve drivers over the past two seasons, with the German understood to have held discussions with Haas over a race seat next year.