ART Grand Prix team principal Frederic Vasseur says the junior single-seater ladder will be rendered irrelevant if GP2 champion-elect Stoffel Vandoorne fails to make it to Formula 1.
The 23-year-old McLaren junior has so far enjoyed a record-breaking sophomore season in GP2, and is likely to clinch the drivers' title next time out at Sochi.
McLaren have also previously stated that they want to find 2016 F1 seats for Vandoorne and fellow junior Kevin Magnussen, but the latter admitted he's considering opportunities beyond the Woking team - and, as Vasseur indicated, Vandoorne could be forced to do the same.
"It is no secret that Stoffel is courted by F1 teams," said Vasseur. "He’s in a somewhat tricky situation as he’s got a contract with McLaren, so he’s not allowed to talk with every other team.
"But I think this is the right moment to start talking, he needs to do it within the next two weeks.
"McLaren most chose its two drivers this week. If they don’t choose Stoffel, I think they will free him from his contract."
Speaking about Vandoorne's future prospects, Vasseur stressed that it is imperative the Belgian finds a drive in F1.
"From a mathematical point of view, he is the best driver in the history of GP2," he said.
"The rules have changed, but if you compare his performance this year to previous years, he has clinched eight pole positions, which is - I think - is more than [2006 champion] Hamilton and [2005 champion] Rosberg, and he has scored more race wins and points than any other competitor.
"We cannot accept that a guy who has won everything does not make it to F1, otherwise it is an absolute denial of the ladder system.
"If we say that this kid has won in Formula Renault, has finished second in his maiden year in the World Series, has been runner-up in his first season in GP2 and who, I hope, will be this year’s GP2 champion cannot make it to F1, how can you motivate young kids to race karts?"
Sentiments echoed by fellow competitors
Force India development driver Nick Yelloly, who has raced alongside Vandoorne in GP2 this year, has also stated that the Belgian must be F1 next year.
"It takes big bucks to make it, even if you're very good," Yelloly said.
"I pray Vandoorne gets given a shot next year because he's been super good. If not, than it's complete bullshit."
Vasseur interview by Emmanuel Rolland, translated by Rene Fagnan