Stoffel Vandoorne insists he is staying upbeat, even though he is making his full-time F1 debut in arguably the slowest car overall in 2017.
“We are last, that is the reality of our true state of performance,” the Belgian rookie’s famous teammate, Fernando Alonso, declared in Melbourne.
“This is what we will see in China and Bahrain,” the Spaniard predicted.
Indeed, it’s not as though Vandoorne, 24, is debuting for a F1 backmarker. McLaren is a former grandee whose dire performance could now lead to a split with its struggling works engine partner Honda.
But Vandoorne insists he is upbeat.
“No, the excitement is still there,” he told France’s Auto Hebdo.
“There are only 20 drivers on the grid and I’m lucky to be one of them and in one of the best teams. So nothing has changed, nothing is affected.
“Yes, we are in a difficult situation, but we are still pushing,” said the Belgian.
So Vandoorne said he is in it for the long-haul, and committed to helping McLaren return to its former glory.
“The problems we have cannot be solved quickly, so we need to improve step by step and I’m determined to fight for it.
“We cannot give up, because I’m only at the start of my career. I should learn a lot and get used to the tracks.
“I know that I will be with McLaren for a long time, as we have to work towards having a competitive package in the future,” he added.