McLaren Formula 1 reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne claimed a podium finish on his debut in the Japanese Super Formula series at Suzuka.
The reigning GP2 champion, who finished in the points on his F1 debut with McLaren standing in for Fernando Alonso in the Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this month, claimed third place for the Honda-powered Dandelion Racing team after starting fourth.
Vandoorne moved up a place at the start at the expense of Yuhi Sekiguchi, who later picked up a penalty for his mechanics restarting his car on the grid after he stalled at the start of the formation lap.
While race winner Naoki Yamamoto pulled away to win by more than 10 seconds, Vandoorne spent the majority of the race fighting with Yuji Kunimoto, who he was unable to find a way past.
“To get third place in my first race in Super Formula is a good weekend,” said Vandoorne.
“We are very satisfied to be able to get such a good result against very experienced drivers.
“We were aiming to fight at a high level and I think we did a great job.
“This is a good result at a difficult circuit – we were fast in qualifying and ran without any mistakes in the race.
“Although I was pushing to overtake Kunimoto, he did not make a mistake, but I’m happy with the start to the season.”