Eric Boullier was left to rue another race of disappointment for the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team, with Fernando Alonso retiring whilst in a promising points-scoring position at the Circuit of The Americas, while Stoffel Vandoorne was left with a mountain to climb following a pre-race engine change and subsequent grid penalty.
MGU-H issues affected both drivers at different points of the weekend, with Alonso retiring thanks to the failure of his MGU-H, which was particularly galling as he was running in a net seventh position when it happened.
Boullier, Racing Director of McLaren, said that Alonso has been out of luck this season when racing in the United States, having retired with an engine failure during his Indianapolis 500 attempt in May and again this weekend at CoTA.
“Today was another race where we witnessed the talent of both our drivers but came home bitterly disappointed and with little to show for it,” said Boullier.
“Fernando started brilliantly and was maintaining pace with the pack around him through the first stint and initial round of pit stops. He had the capability to secure seventh or even sixth place and score valuable points for the team, but was denied due to an MGU-H issue which has compounded the problems we’ve faced all weekend, albeit on the other car.
“It would seem that despite huge potential, luck hasn’t been on Fernando’s side in the USA this year, which has been heart-breaking for all of us.”
Boullier felt Vandoorne was left with an almost insurmountable task when the team were forced to change his engine before the race, resulting in a grid penalty that meant he started at the rear of the field, but the Belgian drove an impressive race, even though he could only climb to twelfth by the chequered flag.
“Stoffel was the unfortunate recipient of 25 further grid drops to add to his existing five-place penalty, owing to an MGU-H problem found this morning which required a full PU change in order to get him out on track in time for the race,” said Boullier.
“This dropped him to the back of the grid at the start, rendering any hopes of points almost impossible. Still, Stoffel drove impressively well here – his first time racing at COTA – with no less than four bold overtaking manoeuvres that went unseen on our TV screens.”
With the Circuit of The Americas one of the few remaining circuits on the calendar likely to suit the MCL32, Boullier admitted it was a disappointment not to score points with either car, and Alonso’s engine problem is likely to result in further engine changes and grid penalties this weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
“It’s a huge shame that these issues robbed us of a strong result at one of the few tracks left this season where we were hopeful of a more positive outcome,” said Boullier.
“The problem encountered on Fernando’s car means that Mexico will be another tough race for us, but we’ll keep on fighting.”