Yusuke Hasegawa admitted seeing Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne fail to break into the top ten for the final Japanese Grand Prix for the McLaren Honda partnership was disappointing, with the Spaniard finishing eleventh and the Belgian fourteenth on Sunday.
Honda’s Head of F1 Project and Executive Chief Engineer felt Alonso in particular had the pace to score points but he had been left with too much to do following a grid penalty for an engine change, and he was left less than a second behind tenth placed Felipe Massa at the chequered flag.
“It was disappointing that we were unable to finish in the points in our final home Grand Prix as McLaren Honda,” said Hasegawa.
“Fernando started his race from the back of the grid but he maintained a competitive pace with the cars running ahead. He just narrowly missed out on tenth place after chasing down Massa in the closing laps. I think he had the pace to score points today, so it’s a shame.”
Vandoorne fought hard throughout the race as well but was left towards the back of the field after early contact with Kimi Raikkonen, and could only finish fourteenth, with Hasegawa feeling he was lucky to escape unscathed from the incident.
“Stoffel started his race from ninth but he lost his position due to an unfortunate incident at Turn Two immediately after the start of the race,” said Hasegawa.
“Luckily, he didn’t have any significant damage and was able to continue on, but it was a difficult race and very much damage-limitation for the remaining laps.”
With much of the home support behind Honda in Japan, Hasegawa thanked them all for their backing, and the team for all their efforts, and he admitted it was a shame that they couldn’t break into the top ten on Sunday as a reward.
“This is our home Grand Prix, so we obviously have very strong feelings for this race,” admitted Hasegawa.
“I want to say a huge thank-you to all of the fans that turned out to support us and also to the team who worked tirelessly throughout the weekend – it is a shame they weren’t rewarded with any points, but we still have four races left this season and we’ll continue to battle to the end.”