McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team Racing Director Eric Boullier accepted that the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix was just one of those days for the Woking based squad, who had both drivers retire from the race following collisions this weekend.
“Sometimes you visit the Monte-Carlo casino and hit the jackpot; other times you walk away empty-handed. For us, this was just one of those unfortunate days when the luck didn’t go our way.”
The McLaren strategists tried a number of different options with stand-in driver Jenson Button, who was covering for Fernando Alonso whilst the Spaniard competed in the Indy 500, but despite their efforts, they were unable to get the Brit by Sauber F1 Team driver Pascal Wehrlein at any point during the race.
The two eventually had a coming together at Portier as Button tried to make a pass up the inside, but he was unable to make it stick, and the German ended up on his side in the tyre wall, whilst the Brit sustained a broken front left corner, seeing both drivers out of the race on lap 57.
“We always knew that Jenson would start the race on the back-foot, but it was unfortunate that our attempts to run him in clean air came to nothing after Sauber attempted the very same strategy.
“It was cruel luck for Jenson that, despite the unsafe release of Wehrlein’s car, the penalty did nothing to tip the odds in Jenson’s favour. The collision was just one of those things, but I’m pleased that both drivers were able to walk away.”
Team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne had look set to score points however, having been as high up as seventh at one point in the race, and nicely placed in tenth with just eleven laps remaining. A length stint behind the safety car however, saw the Belgian lose temperature in his tyres, and slide into the barrier at Turn 1 on the re-start.
“With our focus now turned solely towards Stoffel, we looked set for a decent result. He’d been running on the fringes of the top 10 for the whole race, and his pace on the Option was very promising.
“Following a switch to the Prime, he still looked set for a points finish, but, on cold tyres and with cold brakes, he understeered into the tyre wall at Turn One when the race restarted after the Safety Car.”
Despite the result however, Boullier was pleased with Vandoorne’s performance and believes the Belgian made a marked improvement this weekend, whilst commending Button for his efforts, who had a difficult job on his hands from the very beginning, after receiving a fifteen-place grid penalty for a PU component change.
“Still, there are positives: I think it’s fair to say that Stoffel has really taken a step forward this weekend, both in terms of his driving and his confidence level with the car; and Jenson showed us all that he is still a great champion and a fantastic ambassador for the sport of Formula 1.”