Seeing Stoffel Vandoorne finish the Russian Grand Prix was a small positive to take away from the Sochi Autodrom for the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team, but Fernando Alonso’s retirement before the race even began showed the team still have a long way to go in order to be reliable.
Racing Director Eric Boullier knows that the first European Grand Prix of the season this weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will see the team continue to struggle for competitiveness, but Vandoorne finishing, albeit down in fourteenth, shows there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Woking-based outfit and their Japanese engine partners.
“While the start of the year and the first round of fly-away races have not been easy for McLaren-Honda, we’re looking forward to returning to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix, marking the start of the European leg of the season,” said Boullier.
“We don’t anticipate a huge change of fortunes at this race, but getting Stoffel to the end of the grand prix in Sochi was a small reward for all the hard work being put in behind the scenes to address our reliability issues, and hopefully a sign of more positive things to come for the team.”
Boullier is hopeful that planned updates for the Spanish Grand Prix will help the team be both more competitive and more reliable, with six retirements between the two drivers in just four races not good enough for a team with the stature of McLaren.
“Like the majority of teams, we’ll be taking this opportunity to introduce some new elements to the car, and, with the enthusiasm of the Spanish fans behind us, I hope we’ll be able to complete some solid running and see an improvement in our reliability,” said Boullier.
“It would be good to kick off the European races with some positive momentum, and what better place than in Spain with the full support of the passionate Spanish crowd.”