Zak Brown has hinted that Stoffel Vandoorne could remain a McLaren driver in 2019, if he is willing to accept a drive outside of Formula 1. Vandoorne will be replaced by Lando Norris next year after failing to deliver on his junior promise at the highest level.
Although Vandoorne has been hampered by McLaren's inability to produce a competitive car, he has failed in comparison to Fernando Alonso - outqualified by the two-time world champion at all 14 races so far this year.
With Alonso also leaving F1 at the end of the year - likely to IndyCar, where McLaren are looking at entering a team, Brown's comments suggest the team's 2018 F1 line-up could even be team-mates again next year.
"Anything we can do to help Stoffel, we would help him in a heartbeat," Brown stated.
"We consider him family, he's been outstanding to work with, hopefully he lands in Formula 1, that's where I think he deserves to be, but we have some other racing activities that you guys know we are reviewing and I wouldn't hesitate to keep Stoffel in the McLaren family if there was a seat available and he had a desire to race in it."
Both Sauber and Toro Rosso have been linked with offering Vandoorne a chance to remain in F1 - a level that brown remains convinced the Belgian is good enough for.
"I definitely think he's a Formula 1 calibre driver and if I was Toro Rosso, who appear to have two open seats, I'd put Stoffel in in a heartbeat," Brown said.
"I think we've had a very poor race car for two years.
"Someone like Fernando can adapt quicker, he's got so much experience. Stoffel was very close to Fernando, a lot closer than some other teammates as Fernando commented.
"Stoffel is an outstanding race car driver. Ultimately we look to the future and feel Lando's a future star. I think in a different environment Stoffel may excel more, and with a better race car."
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