McLaren's Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne (front L) speeds through a corner during the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 26, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST / --IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE-- (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Stoffel Vandoorne earned McLaren-Honda its first race finish of the season in the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago when he brought the car home in 13th position and last position.

Unfortunately for the team, it was only a one car finish as team-mate Fernando Alonso was running strongly in 10th position before bodywork damage dropped him out of the top 10 and caused him to retire the car in the pits.

However, the Woking based squad took positives away from the opening race weekend of the year, and the whole team has been pushing to make further improvements ahead of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, which gets underway on the Shanghai International Circuit tomorrow morning.

For Stoffel, this will be yet another brand new experience and he is eagerly looking forward to it, even if he knows it will be another difficult weekend for both himself and the team….

“Although the race in Australia was disappointing for us in terms of where we finished the race, for me it was a big milestone in my career and I’m glad I’ve got my first official race start as a McLaren-Honda driver under my belt. I learned a lot and had to react quickly to various challenges we faced over the weekend, and I’m proud of the way we handled them to get the car home,” he said.

“Finishing last is never what we would want, and China will be equally difficult for us, but I know we have some new parts for this weekend and as usual we’ll be pushing hard to get the maximum out of our package. The circuit is a new one for me, so I’m looking forward to driving it for the first time for real and not just on the simulator, and getting to grips with the changeable conditions.”

“The Shanghai track has very different characteristics from Melbourne and from the next race in Bahrain, so I’m keen to get on top of that early in the weekend and work hard on set-up. It’s a mix of low- and medium-speed corners and then the long, fast straights, so it has a bit of everything. Getting as much time on track during the practice sessions will be important, so I’ll be aiming to learn as much as I can on Friday and will see what we can do over the rest of the weekend.”