Stoffel Vandoorne: “It was important for me to get some more mileage under my belt”

Stoffel Vandoorne took heart from finishing in Russia, even if the result was great - Credit: Steven Tee/McLaren

Whilst a fourteenth place finish is nothing to write home about, Stoffel Vandoorne was still able to take some positives away from the Russian Grand Prix weekend, especially as he finished a Grand Prix for only the second time in four attempts in 2017.

The McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team racer was never a points contender in Russia, finishing ahead of only the two Sauber F1 Team drivers, but he was pleased with the mileage he was able to do in the MCL32, especially after two early retirements in China and Bahrain.

“Although we weren’t proud of our performance at the Russian Grand Prix, we could still take some positives from the weekend and I’m pleased I was able to finish the race, after a few tough weekends,” said Vandoorne.

“It was important for me to get some more mileage under my belt, and we managed to gather a lot of valuable information, which is helping to shape the development of both the chassis and the power unit as we continue through the season.”

Vandoorne is ready for the first European race of the season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, and hopes that the team can have a smooth weekend, something that has been out of their reach so far in 2017 due to one thing or another.  He acknowledges it is likely to be another challenging weekend due to the higher than average speeds, with the Honda power unit lacking compared to their rivals Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault.

“I’m looking forward to starting the European season at the Spanish Grand Prix,” said Vandoorne.  “I know the circuit well from previous races I’ve done there and of course from pre-season testing, and we have a lot of useful data about the track and the way the car behaves there. Hopefully this will mean we can start the weekend on a positive note and have a smooth weekend.

“The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a fun track to drive, and pretty fast, so it’s quite demanding for both the car and the driver. It’s very tricky to overtake there, and, as it’s a quick track, average speed is quite high, so it’ll be a challenging one for us. It’s traditionally a circuit that’s tough on tyres, but I’m interested to see how the new compounds will change how the race unfolds. As always, though, I’m ready for the challenge and excited to go racing again.”