Stoffel Vandoorne was disappointed to have gone out in the second qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix, and thought there was potential for the McLaren F1 Team cars to be amongst the top ten.
Both Vandoorne and team-mate Fernando Alonso failed to make it into the third session, both drivers setting times just slower than then tenth-placed Nico Hulkenberg. This does mark an improvement for the team though – their eleventh (Alonso) and twelfth (Vandoorne) positions are improvements on last year, when the pair qualified thirteenth and sixteenth respectively.
Speaking on qualifying Vandoorne said that the failure to reach the third qualifying session was a “missed” step forwards, though this was only their first session in anger with new partners Renault Sport, and that their true pace will come soon.
“We’re a bit disappointed not to be in Q3 with both cars. It’s a shame as we showed some good promise yesterday in the dry during practice,” said Vandoorne. “From our side, there is some work to do – the other midfield teams are close and have improved a bit since yesterday, it seems – so we need to see where we lost out.
“There was definitely potential there for us to make a good step forward today, and we’ve missed out on that. We have a good benchmark though and this is still very early in the partnership between McLaren and Renault, so there are still a lot of things that have to develop. We know that through the season we’ll improve a lot as a team and as a package, and I hope that we can show that very soon.”
As for the race, Vandoorne reveals that the team are hopeful of points, should they be able to keep away from drama.
“Tomorrow is race day and there are a lot of things that can happen,” said the Belgian. “Overtaking is difficult here, and as it’s the first race of the season there’s usually a lot of drama.
“Compared to last year we’ve definitely made an improvement, and our race pace looks quite promising, so we need to be sharp and ready for anything. The weather might play into it a bit too, so if we can have a clean race and stay out of trouble, hopefully there are some points on the cards.”