Following their double points score at the Hungarian Grand Prix, McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Stoffel Vandoorne feels the squad should be pushing to finish as one of the top four teams at every round from now on.
The result in the last round saw the Woking based squad finish with both cars inside the top ten for the first time this season, with driver Fernando Alonso coming home in sixth place, and Vandoorne in tenth. Those nine crucial points, more than quadrupled McLaren’s total, and saw them move ahead of the Sauber F1 Team, to ninth in the constructor’s standing’s.
It was also the Belgian’s first point’s paying result of the season, and the 25-year-old believes that should become more of a regular occurrence going forward.
“I think the aim for us should be to be the fourth best team on a more regular basis, but the midfield is so tight and so close.”
“We’re definitely improving race-by-race and finding new stuff to make us feel more comfortable and more competitive.”
The Woking based squad have not only improved on race day, but their qualifying performance has also been boosted, with both drivers making it into the top eight in Hungary, whilst Vandoorne also started from ninth at the British Grand Prix the race before.
“Maybe Silverstone was a bit of a surprise to be that high up. [But] we see it at every weekend where we’re going to – small details make a difference in how well you qualify and how well you race.
“It shows that all the effort that we have been putting in have definitely gone in the right direction.”
“It’s still not where we want to be, definitely not, but when opportunities like Hungary come up we have to take them.
“Hopefully we’ll have a couple more during the season and we can grab them as well.”
Vandoorne admitted that the start to his first full-time season in F1 had not gone how he had imagined it would, having taken ten races to get his first point on the board.
Of course, the below par performance and unreliability of the McLaren Honda has not helped the Belgian, but many had expected a driver of Vandoorne’s quality to have come through much stronger.
However, race by race, the 25-year-old has gained experience and confidence, and now feels much more comfortable in the MCL32, and that shows in his more recent results.
“With the experience I have now I’m much more able to direct the way I want to go. The last few races as well have been very good from a performance point of view. [I’ve been] matching Fernando on pace as well, which has been positive.
“Every weekend I’m making big steps forward and I’m pushing very hard with the team to get things in my way, trying to get the car to suit my style a little bit more.
“We just need to keep pushing in the right direction. Hopefully we can show some further improvements for the rest of the season.”