McLaren ‘On Right Path’ Despite Tough Austrian GP

The Austrian Grand Prix saw the McLaren-Mercedes team have a relatively quiet race at the Red Bull Ring, with Danish driver Kevin Magnussen finishing seventh and Briton Jenson Button eleventh.

Magnussen can take heart from a steady if not spectacular race in Austria that saw him take home six points for seventh position. He was disappointed to lose the sixth place he had held for long spells of the race to the Sahara Force India of Sergio Perez a few laps from the end, but felt the team was making progress after a mediocre season up to now.

“I really thought we were going to finish sixth today, but Checo [Perez] just had too much pace at the end of the race,” said Magnussen. “That wasn’t great, but it’s positive that we’re making improvements. We’ve made progress this weekend, but we still need to keep pushing: we still need to find good, efficient downforce.

“Still, I think we got everything out of our package this weekend. It’s tough racing in the midfield pack, like we did today, but we’re going to get there. It’s maybe difficult to see it from the outside, but, believe me, we’re making improvements all the time.”

Team-mate Button was disappointed to finish just outside the points in eleventh, failing to make his alternative tyre strategy work to his advantage. He felt he lost too much time stuck in traffic around a track that was difficult to pass on. He was also frustrated about the opening lap when the Sahara Force India of Nico Hulkenberg forced him wide and off the track at the first corner.

“I’d hoped we could make up some places today, but it’s never easy to overtake around here,” said Button. “We went for a different strategy – starting on Primes – but it didn’t really work for us.

“At the start, Nico pushed me wide at the exit of Turn One – there was no real need for that as there was enough room for both of us – so I lost a couple of places. From then on, my race was all about sitting in the train, waiting for people ahead of me to pit, and trying to make my strategy work – which in the end I couldn’t. It was a long afternoon’s work for 11th place.”

McLaren’s Racing Director Eric Boullier praised Magnussen for a mature afternoon in Austria where he ran in the top six comfortably before losing a place to the faster tyre shod Force India of Perez a handful laps from the end. He also believed that Button could have matched his team-mate had he not struggled in qualifying. Boullier was happy however that the upgrades to the car brought to the Red Bull Ring seemed to have worked well despite finishing only seventh and eleventh.

“Kevin drove extremely maturely all afternoon, balancing the need to turn fast laps when required with the ever-present necessity to manage tyre wear,” said Boullier.  “For the first half of the race, he was able to maintain a steady sixth place, best of the rest behind the two Mercedes-Benz’, the two Williams’ and Fernando’s [Alonso] Ferrari. He did well to hold that position until lap 66, when, running on worn Primes, he was unable to prevent Checo, running on fresh Options, from passing him.

“Jenson was never quite able to compensate for his less-than-optimal grid position, but he nonetheless did his level best to capitalise on an adventurous race strategy which in the end didn’t quite work out. As a result, he was able to finish only 11th, through no fault of his own.

“In summary, then, seventh and 11th isn’t the result we were hoping for, but, as I said yesterday, we’re on the right development path, even if the gains we’re making are frustratingly incremental at the moment. We’ll continue to work as hard as we possibly can in an effort gradually to enlarge those gains, but it won’t be an instant fix.”