McLaren Formula 1 team’s reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne will replace Fernando Alonso in the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.

Alonso, who miraculously avoided serious injury in this year’s opening Grand Prix at Melbourne, has been declared unfit to race after chest scans have not shown sufficient improvement to the injuries sustained. Alonso will have another scan before the Chinese Grand Prix in two weeks, however his bench-warming will allow 24-year-old Stoffel Vandoorne, who celebrated his birthday this week, to make his F1 debut in lieu.

 

Vandoorne has previous experience at Bahrain having won there on his GP2 debut in 2014. The young Belgian is a member of the McLaren Young Driver Program and started his career kart racing at the age of six. Victories nationally and then internationally allowed him the opportunity to compete in F4 where numerous successes moved him to GP2.

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Alonso will sit out of a Grand Prix for the second year in a row due to injury, having missed out on last years race in Melbourne following a pre-season crash.

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Sometimes known to whisper to gravel, Alex crafted his early childhood driving skills in an old 260z on the back roads of country Australia. Having spent over a decade as an automotive photographer and freelance journalist he combines his wisdom to produce the unique content that is Trailing Throttle. t: @alexsrae