McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team‘s Stoffel Vandoorne emulated his career best finish at today’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Belgian finished in seventh place in Singapore two weeks ago, but this was arguably due to the misfortune of Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in their first lap collision. But today’s seventh was well-earnt by Vandoorne, who had to battle the likes of Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa to retain position.
It was also the third time that Vandoorne outqualified Alonso in his rookie season, starting seventh to the Spaniard’s tenth. His performance also moves him ahead of Alonso in the driver’s standings, with thirteen points to ten.
“I can say that this was my best ever race in Formula 1 – up until now,” commented Vandoorne. “All weekend, I’ve been really strong and felt really confident with the car.”
The McLaren has begun to show decent pace over a single lap, but Vandoorne was not expecting to maintain his position throughout the race when coming under attack from cars with the Mercedes power unit. He lost position to Sergio Perez but was able to keep the Williams Martini Racing drivers behind him.
“After qualifying seventh, we weren’t really confident about where we’d finish in the race, so to pull off seventh today is an amazing result.
For the first few laps, Vandoorne was running as high as fifth but ultimately could not maintain the position. He then lost out again to the charging Sebastian Vettel in the Scuderia Ferrari.
“I made a great start; we knew it was probably going to be difficult to hold off the Force Indias and the Williams behind, but only Perez came through.
“From then on, I had amazing pace, pushed hard every lap to try and manage the tyres and maintain the gap over Stroll, and I managed that until the end.
“I’m very happy!”