This will be the Belgian’s first track appearance in a current F1 car since he has driven Mercedes in a test in Abu Dhabi in December 2020.
While the Spa test focuses on Pirelli’s wheelless tyres, it will give Vandoorne a valuable opportunity to try out the 2023 car, thus helping him correlate his simulator work for Aston Martin.
It will also make his life easier if he is summoned, be it a Stroll or Fernando Alonso he is indisposed at any time for the remainder of the season.
The 31-year-old shares the role of Aston’s reserve with reigning Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich, and the pair take turns competing in standby races.
Drugovich got his own chance to try the AMR23 when he drove it for two days during testing in Bahrain in February when the Stroll was not available. Since then, the Brazilian has covered more kilometers in private tests in the 2021 car.
Under current regulations, tire test drivers must have completed at least one race start during the season, hence Vandoorne’s participation.
Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team
Photo: Mark Sutton / Motorsport images
In addition to his duties at Aston, Vandoorne is also one of the drivers available for McLaren as a reserve and his performance at Spa would also ease his entry into the MCL60 should he be required.
Aside from a general feel for 2023 downforce levels, both cars share a common Mercedes power unit and therefore have similar settings on their steering wheels.
Vandoorne made his F1 race debut with McLaren in Bahrain in 2016, replacing current Aston teammate Alonso.
He then completed two full seasons in 2017 and 2018, the first with Honda power and the second with Renault. In both seasons, he finished 16th in the world championship, with a best result of seventh.
He was ousted by McLaren at the end of 2018 but later rebuilt his Formula E career by winning the 2021-22 championship for Mercedes, for whom he also served as an F1 reserve.
He currently drives for the DS Penske Formula E team and is also a reserve for the Peugeot WEC team.