Stoffel Vandoorne: “It’s very difficult to read into performance at this stage”

Stoffel Vandoorne ended third fastest on day two
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

A combination of a detached exhaust and the inclement weather conditions meant Stoffel Vandoorne completed only thirty-seven laps in his first day of pre-season testing in the Renault-powered MCL33, but the Belgian did manage to set the third fastest time overall.

The McLaren F1 Team racer felt positive that the winter break was finally over, and although he admitted the extremely low temperatures at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya made it a difficult day to get any meaningful running in, he had positive first impressions of the new car.

“It was very nice to get back in the car after the winter break,” said Vandoorne. “It felt like I hadn’t left the cockpit so that was positive. What mainly held us back this morning were the weather conditions – it was a very cold and damp circuit which meant it took a while to get the running started for everyone. 

“We took the opportunity to do some rake work and gather some aero data, and after that the track started to be in a reasonable condition, so we could do a few proper runs and try to understand a bit more about the car.

“The first impressions were very positive. I felt comfortable, there were no surprises and we got some good learning done.”

Vandoorne lost time as the team fixed an issue with an exhaust clip that caused hot air to be blown into some of the wiring looms, with the resulting checks leaving him stuck in the pits, but even when the MCL33 was back in one piece, the conditions had deteriorated sufficiently to force an early conclusion to the day.

“Unfortunately, we had a small issue with the exhaust clip at lunchtime, which detached the exhaust and blew a lot of hot air onto some of the wiring looms – one of which is the brake,” said Vandoorne.

“The team did some precautionary checks which obviously meant that things took a bit longer than expected. All in all, it wasn’t a big problem and it’s been a positive day with a lot of things learned about the car. 

“The snowy conditions are not very representative of what we will get during the season, so it’s very difficult to read into performance at this stage.”