Vandoorne wins final Super Formula race at Suzuka
Stoffel Vandoorne signed off from his one-year stint in the Japanese Super Formula championship by winning the final race of the season at Suzuka.
McLaren Formula 1 junior driver Vandoorne moved into Super Formula with Docomo Team Dandelion for 2016 after winning the GP2 title last year.
The move was designed to keep the Belgian sharp ahead of an anticipated move up into F1 for 2017, which was confirmed in September.
Vandoorne will race for McLaren alongside Fernando Alonso in 2017, replacing Jenson Button, who steps into a reserve and ambassadorial role.
Vandoorne closed out his time in Super Formula in style by winning the final race of the year at Suzuka from second place on the grid.
A rapid start saw Vandoorne leapfrog pole-sitter Hiroaki Ishiura, while title fighter and Audi LMP1 driver Andre Lotterer slotted into third place.
Lotterer needed to win to stand a chance of winning the championship ahead of rival Yuji Kunimoto, and was able to move ahead of Ishiura on the restart after a safety car period was sparked with six laps to go.
Lotterer piled the pressure on Vandoorne at the front, knowing one overtake stood between him and the championship, but the McLaren youngster remained resolute in his defence.
Vandoorne ultimately crossed the line just seven-tenths of a second clear of Lotterer, enough to claim his second win of the season and claim fifth place in the final drivers’ standings.
Vandoorne’s next racing duty is likely to be the Australian Grand Prix in March where he will make his second F1 start and begin his first full season in a race seat with McLaren.