Eric Boullier: Stoffel Vandoorne's start 'not as good' as McLaren expected

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has confessed the start of Stoffel Vandoorne's first full season of F1 has fallen short of expectations, though he believes some of that is down to the team's poor performance.

As a McLaren junior Vandoorne won the GP2 championship in record-breaking style in 2015 but failed to secure a seat the following year, remaining on as the team's reserve driver -- making his debut in Bahrain while deputising for the injured Fernando Alonso. Jenson Button's decision to step away from Formula One at the end of 2016 allowed Vandoorne to step up to the team as Alonso's teammate for the current campaign.

But his elevation to a full-time drive has coincided with another dismal year for engine supplier for Honda, with McLaren mired in yet another season woefully off the pace. Vandoorne has struggled, being out-qualified 7-0 so far by Alonso and by Button when the 2009 world champion deputised for the Spaniard at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Boullier admits Vandoorne's stellar junior career raised expectations about how he would fare in F1 but says McLaren and Honda must take some of the blame for his slow start.

When asked by Sky Sports how he rated Vandoorne's rookie season so far, Boullier said: "Not as good as I was expecting. He's got a pretty high track record in the junior categories. He won everything that he went through like Lewis [Hamilton]. He's very talented.

"We didn't give him 100 percent to do well because he had a lot of issues on his car which was quite regular. But we are now addressing this to help him drive the cars the way we want to be fast. I am confident he will achieve this. All the young drivers starting from Verstappen struggle in the first six months."

After eight races, McLaren is rooted to the foot of the constructors' championships. Alonso's ninth-place finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix earned the team its first points of the season but McLaren still finds itself three points behind Sauber, which is running a 2016 Ferrari power unit this season.