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Vandoorne in Schumacher, Senna category – Brown

Vandoorne in Schumacher, Senna category - Brown

Vandoorne in Schumacher, Senna category – Brown

Stoffel Vandoorne is in the same league as some of the best drivers to ever race in formula one.

That is the sensational claim of new McLaren chief Zak Brown, exactly a month before official pre-season testing begins in Barcelona late next month.

Belgian Vandoorne, 24, is making his full F1 debut for McLaren-Honda in 2017, with a strong reputation and record from his formative career.

But Brown told Het Laatste Nieuws, a Belgian newspaper, that the Belgian is even better than his record suggests.

“With Fernando Alonso and Stoffel, we are fortunate to have two top drivers,” he said.

“I include Stoffel in the category of drivers such as Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Ayrton Senna,” Brown added. “Together in the same team, Stoffel and Fernando will surprise.”

Brown made the statement to a group of Belgian reporters, who expressed incredulity at the comparisons made between Vandoorne, a rookie, and some of the sport’s greatest ever achievers.

“You heard me right,” he insisted. “I put Stoffel in that category.

“He has the potential to evolve into a top F1 driver. Stoffel is an incredible driver and a future world champion.

“It is likely that he will commit some rookie mistakes, but he will learn quickly,” Brown added.

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