Stoffel Vandoorne: “I wasn’t really expecting Felipe to be there”

Stoffel Vandoorne will drop three places on the grid for the Monaco Grand Prix - Credit: Andrew Hone/McLaren

Stoffel Vandoorne will take a three-place grid penalty for the Monaco Grand Prix after being held responsible by the stewards for the clash with Felipe Massa during the Spanish Grand Prix.

The McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team racer was forced to retire as a result of the incident with the Williams Martini Racing driver, bringing out the virtual safety car in the process, but the Belgian does not believe he was completely at fault for the clash, and that the penalty applied was harsh.

“I wasn’t really expecting Felipe to be there – I think I left enough space for him to be able to pass – but unfortunately we made contact and my front wheel broke, so that was the end of the race for me,” said Vandoorne.

“I don’t want to blame anyone, and in my personal opinion it was just a racing incident.”

One of the highlights of the race for Vandoorne however was his first overtake of the season when he passed Jolyon Palmer, but he knows that the MCL32 and it’s Honda power unit are still not strong enough to be genuine contenders towards the front of the field, even if he acknowledges improvements have been made.

“The manoeuvre on Jolyon was my first overtake this season, so at least I got something out of the race,” said Vandoorne. “The fact that that move felt so good shows that our package still isn’t strong enough, and we’re still not in a position to fight with the others.

“But we’ve taken a step forward for this race with the upgrades we brought here, and some areas are definitely improving, but in the race we’re still struggling a bit. Hopefully we can carry some more improvements into the next race.

“I don’t want to make any predictions for Monaco, but the chassis has been improving, and hopefully we’ll bring a couple more updates that will pay off. We’ll have to wait and see, and try our best; that’s all we can do at the moment.”