Eric Boullier was delighted to see Fernando Alonso climb from the back of the grid to finish seventh at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, although he bemoaned Jenson Button’s early retirement.
Alonso’s weekend up until race day had been a difficult affair, with engine changes forcing him to start the race from the back of the grid, but he stayed out of trouble to run as high as fourth, but Button’s race was over on the opening lap after taking damage from Pascal Wehrlein running into the back of his car.
“Having suffered problem after problem yesterday and the day before, Fernando enjoyed a trouble-free run today, forcing his way from the back of the grid to a fine seventh place by the end of a truly dramatic Belgian Grand Prix,” said McLaren racing director Boullier.
“By contrast, very soon after the start, Jenson’s car was hit by another car, through no fault of Jenson’s, and we judged the damage it had sustained too serious to feel able to authorise him to continue.
“It was massively frustrating for him and for us, because he’d shown very impressive pace here so far this weekend.”
Boullier admits it was encouraging to see McLaren being competitive at Spa, and although he believes the Italian Grand Prix this weekend will be tougher, the team will still be aiming for another points finish in order to strengthen its grip on sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso.
“We’re encouraged by our car performance here, overall, and we’re optimistic of building on this weekend’s decent form when we arrive in Italy in a few days’ time,” said Boullier.
“Granted, Monza is the fastest racetrack on the Formula 1 calendar – and as such our car should in theory be unsuited to its very long straights – but we’ll do our very best to score points there all the same.
“Talking of points, the half-dozen that Fernando scored today have lifted us ahead of Toro Rosso in the constructors’ world championship table; as a result we’re now in sixth place. That’s not great, but it shows that things are going in the right direction for us.”