Stoffel Vandoorne doesn’t want any comparisons with three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton ahead of the start of his first full season in the sport.
10 years after Hamilton made his F1 debut alongside Fernando Alonso at McLaren, Vandoorne finds himself in the same position as the Englishman.
But the Belgian, who has established himself as one of the finest juniour drivers of recent times with a dominant GP2 campaign in 2015, insists he wants to establish his own identity.
"I do not want to be Hamilton," Vandoorne told La Gazzetta dello Sport. I want to be Vandoorne and I'll give my maximum."
"I do not expect anything from the relationship between Fernando and I. I didn't exactly get advice from Fernando and (Jenson) Button until now, but I was always close to them at the circuit, watching and trying to learn. But I have my own style."
Max Verstappen’s meteoric rise to Formula 1 with Red Bull has earned him plaudits, with many expecting Vandoorne to replicate the same success.
But Vandoorne was again quick to dismiss any comparisons with the Dutchman.
"Max and I came to F1 on very different paths. I started racing a little late, did not have much money and didn't know what categories to do,’’ he said.
"Max did everything much faster. I lack experience in Grands Prix, but I'm more than ready."
Vandoorne made a one-off outing with McLaren in Bahrain, nicking a point with a 10th place finish.
Apart from his reserve drive duties with McLaren Vandoorne completed in Japan’s Super Formula series, finishing fourth in the championship with two wins.
by Rachit Thukral