Eric Boullier admitted the failure to score points for the first time in 2017 during the Spanish Grand Prix was disappointing, especially after Fernando Alonso started his home race from the fourth row of the grid.
The Racing Director of the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team saw the Spaniard be pushed into the gravel trap on the opening lap by Felipe Massa, which lost Alonso a number of positions, and from thereon in he was never truly in contention for a top ten finish.
“After our encouraging qualifying pace yesterday, it goes without saying that we’re very disappointed today,” said Boullier. “Through no fault of his own, Fernando got involved in Felipe’s [Massa] lap-one ‘off’, and immediately dropped half a dozen places as a result.
“He pushed as hard as he could thereafter, but the gap proved unbridgeable and he ended up driving a lonely race to 12th place.”
Boullier was happy with the progress Stoffel Vandoorne was making in the second MCL32, including the overtake on Jolyon Palmer, but he was also left frustrated that this could not translate into a positive result after also suffering contact with Massa that broke the Belgian’s suspension.
“After being awarded a 10-place grid penalty as a result of the team’s decision to replace some elements of his car’s power unit this morning, Stoffel was forced to start the race from 20th and last place,” said Boullier.
“From there he drove the first third of the race very hard and very well, working his way up to P16 by lap 20, the highlight being a strong passing manoeuvre on Jolyon’s [Palmer] Renault.
“Unfortunately, his good progress came to a halt on lap 33, when contact with Felipe’s Williams damaged his suspension and rendered his car undriveable.”
Boullier is looking beyond the results in Spain to take positives away from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with the chassis of the MCL32 appearing to be one that both drivers can really push with, which gives him hope that Vandoorne and the returning Jenson Button can have a strong Monaco Grand Prix.
“Results-wise, today is a day for us to forget, but there are positives to be taken from the weekend nonetheless, not least our solid qualifying pace,” said Boullier.
“It’s clear that the MCL32 is a chassis that our drivers can really lean on – and that quality augurs well for Monaco, on whose sinuous streets we’ll do battle with our rivals once again in two weeks’ time.”