McLaren Honda have confirmed Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne will remain with the team for 2018, securing the future of the young rookie for at least another 12 months. Despite suffering from a less than auspicious start to his career as a McLaren Honda Formula One driver, Stoffel Vandoorne has today secured a second full season with the woking team for 2018, extending a relationship with the team that stretches all the way back to 2013. Working against a sometimes difficult car and shockingly unreliable Honda engine, Vandoorne appears to have made several strides forward in recent months, a fact acknowledged by his McLaren superiors and rewarded with an extension to his current contract with the once great British outfit. Understandably Vandoorne was delighted with the announcement on the eve of his home Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps, citing the confidence of having his immediate future sorted as a springboard to improving both his own and the team performances in the second half of the season; I’m delighted that the team has now formally announced that I will continue to race for them next year, because I’ll be able to approach the second half of my rookie season with total focus on the job in hand: namely getting the very most I can out of my car, my engineers, and everything and everyone around me," he explained. “I’ve already learned such a huge amount in the first half of my first season in Formula 1 - from my engineers, from my mechanics, from Eric [Boullier], from Zak [Brown] and from Jonathan [Neale], and also from Fernando [Alonso], who is a brilliant driver and also an excellent team-mate. “Last but not least, I want to say thank you to McLaren’s partners and fans for their loyalty and enthusiasm – they are the best in the business – and also to McLaren’s Executive Committee Principals, [Sheikh] Mohammed and Mansour [Ojjeh], who continue to put their faith in me.” The retention of Vandoorne for 2018 is perhaps no real surprise to anyone within the world of Formula One, as McLaren have been highly vocal about the potential of the 25-year-old Belgian driver. It is seen as essential by the McLaren team to keep consistency within the driving strength in Formula One as the team look to push themselves back towards the front of the Grand Prix grid, especially considering the uncertainty that remains around the future of star driver Fernando Alonso, who is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal to keep the Spaniard at the team beyond the end of the current campaign. "When we announced at the end of 2016 that Stoffel would be a McLaren Honda race driver for 2017, we indicated that our plan was that he’d race for us for a number of years. That plan hasn’t changed, and I’m very happy therefore to be able to confirm that he’ll continue to race for us next season," racing director Eric Boullier said. "Like all rookies, he’s had to learn a lot in the first half of his first Formula 1 season, but we have great confidence in him, and he’s getting better and better all the time. His team-mate is a tough opponent – that’s an understatement in fact, because he’s arguably the best driver in the sport today – but Stoffel’s robust talent and fierce ambition make us sure that he’ll achieve great successes with us in the future." As McLaren look to return to winning ways, the continual love / hate relationship between McLaren and engine partner Honda looks likely to come to a head in the coming weeks, with design and development now at a critical stage for the 2018 Grand Prix challenger. McLaren have reportedly been courting Renault about a deal for next year, however with the French manufacturer supposedly keen to avoid spreading themselves too thin supplying four teams, and with both the FIA and Liberty Media keen to avoid losing Honda from Formula One, it looks increasingly likely that McLaren will continue their partnership with the Japanese firm for at least another year in 2018. With several driver contracts up for renewal at the end of next season, the Formula One silly season is only just starting to warm up... Check out the Formula One sub forum to get more news from the world of Grand Prix racing. Want to involve yourself more in Formula One at RD? Well head over and start a thread and let the conversation flow! Do you think McLaren have made the right move retaining Vandoorne for another season? Can Vandoorne and McLaren win races in the coming years? Let us know in the comments section below!