McLaren Realistic After Disappointing Monaco

McLaren Mercedes are cutting a mixed tone following the 2014 Grand Prix de Monaco where drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen finished in sixth and tenth respectively. The Woking based outfit were buoyed by Button’s rise up the field from a lowly 12th on the grid while a late race technical problem for Magnussen took the edge off any celebrations.

Racing Director Eric Boulier said, “Sixth and tenth isn’t where we want to be, but we have to be realistic and acknowledge that this was a good performance – both from the perspective of the team, who worked brilliantly together, and also from both drivers, who drove tenaciously all weekend.

“Finishing 10th will be tough for Kevin to accept – he looked set for at least sixth place until the closing laps, when a problem with his power-unit dropped him down the order in quick succession. Fortunately, we were able to rectify the problem so he could proceed, but the incident with Kimi obviously didn’t help.”

Magnussen was running in seventh place at times during the Grand Prix, making his advance after a move round the outside of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat at Ste Devote. Traffic in the pits enabled Kvyat’s team mate Jean-Eric Vergne to take the place, which Magnussen regained then ceded at the advice of the team in an ill-timed move at the restart. Having given the place back to the Frenchman, he didn’t attract the ire of the stewards but wasn’t able to keep the Sahara Force India of Nico Hulkenberg behind.

After hunting the Force India in the dying laps of the race a problem with his power unit left him susceptible to attack from behind. A move from Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen at the hairpin put both the McLaren and the F4T into the wall and caused Magnussen to tumble to tenth place.

Kevin Magnussen was sanguine after the race, putting the clash down to a racing incident. He said, “Despite a lot of things going against us today – the long hold due to traffic at my pitstop, the unsafe release in front of me in the pitlane, and the engine issue – I can draw a lot from the fact that our car felt really good. That’s a real positive: it might be hard to see from the outside, but things are moving forward within the team.

“There were lots of little issues – Jean-Eric’s team probably didn’t calculate his release properly – it’s never the driver’s fault – it’s just one of those things that happens. And it was a pity I didn’t get to finish the battle with Nico [Hulkenberg]; I’d been saving my tyres in the expectation that Nico would struggle, but then I had a problem with my power-unit, which dropped me back.

“I’m still not really sure what happened with my car at the end of the race. And I didn’t see what happened with Kimi – I went to the inside to block his entry into the hairpin, but he chose to make a move anyway. It’s hard to overtake here, but he tried and it didn’t work. That’s racing.”

Jenson Button had an eventful race to sixth place after tangling with Sergio Perez’s Sauber at Mirabeau. He then took advantage of problems for drivers ahead on the track to make a steady advance. His move into the top ten came thanks to retirement for defending champion Sebastian Vettel while ninth came thanks to problems for Kvyat.

A well timed stop to change from the ‘prime’ soft tires to the ‘option’ super softs put him out of the pit lane just as the safety car was deployed. He still managed to jump Hulkenberg for ninth before again taking advantage of other driver’s strategy and issues. Eighth came from a drive through for Vergne, seventh from a late pit stop for the Mercedes powered Williams of Felipe Massa and finally taking sixth as Magnussen began to struggle.

Button described the race as “messy” saying, “there were cars all over the place; you had to stay focused; keep up with the pack, and look after the tyres, using them when necessary.

“For the entirety of my final stint, I looked after my tyres and dropped back into the clear air behind Kevin. Then it was just about pacing myself to the end. I couldn’t quite get past Nico [Hulkenberg] at the end – he was struggling with his tyres, but whenever I pushed, I struggled as well, so I couldn’t make it stick.

“In the closing laps, we had a good little battle, but it’s so tough when you’re shoved up behind another car. It’s difficult enough as it is, but when you can’t really see anything because there’s a car in front, it’s even more difficult.

“This wasn’t a bad result for us – I just wish I could have picked off Nico at the end. It’s just a pity that Kevin’s late-race problem meant we couldn’t get more points for both cars at the finish.”

Jenson Button holds eighth in the World Drivers’ Championship with 31 points while Magnussen sits in ninth, ten points distant. McLaren Mercedes sit in fifth place in the Constructor’s Championship, equal with Williams on 52 points but taking the place on count-back.