Stoffel Vandoorne lamented a missed opportunity for points after a first lap crash in the Brazilian Grand Prix, ending hopes of a fourth top ten finish this year after colliding with Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo.
Starting from twelfth, Vandoorne made a quick start and was in the mix for points by the first turn, but the Belgian’s race was cut short after contact from Magnussen inside caused terminal damage to his McLaren.
Despite teething reliability problems for McLaren throughout the season, it was only his second retirement in the past 13 races, though it was little consolation for Vandoorne given the improved pace shown in the lead up to the race.
“I definitely think today was a missed opportunity to score points,” he said. “Our race pace looked really promising on Friday, and I felt that, with the track conditions being so hot today and after making a strong start, we had a good chance to finish in the points.”
Explaining his accident at the Senna S further, he admitted he was lucky not to end up crashing even earlier, and was not keen to attribute blame to either Magnussen or Ricciardo specifically for their coming together.
“I actually had a really good launch off the grid, then had a good fight with [Esteban] Ocon and [Romain] Grosjean and nearly got past them – we almost had an accident there when everyone bunched up.
“Then, in Turn Two, I got sandwiched by Magnussen and Ricciardo. There was nowhere to go. An unfortunate end to my race. From my perspective, there was nowhere I could have gone to avoid the incident.”
Eighth place for team-mate Fernando Alonso has demoted Vandoorne to 16th in the championship with only the season finale at Abu Dhabi remaining. He sits two points behind the double world champion, and has a six point deficit to Magnussen in 14th place overall.