Eric Boullier has said that the McLaren F1 Team‘s double-points scoring finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix was “a pleasing reward” after a testing start to the weekend.
Neither McLaren car made it into the final part of Qualifying, with Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne languishing in thirteenth and fourteenth respectively. However, McLaren’s fortunes were reversed come Sunday, with Alonso moving to fourth in the World Championship standings – the highest he’s been after two rounds in four years – with a seventh place finish; Vandoorne followed in eighth. McLaren leapfrog Aston Martin Red Bull Racing into third in the Constructors’ Championship.
“After a tough day for us yesterday,” said Boullier, who is facing a uncertain future at McLaren despite the promising start to 2018.
“A double-points finish is a pleasing reward for the hard work the whole team put in overnight to ready our cars for today’s race.”
Boullier said that he was certain that the McLaren car would be more suited to a race environment, but admitted that he had no idea where either car would finish, given the fierce competition in Formula 1‘s midfield region.
“We knew that our race pace would be stronger than our qualifying performance,” he added.
“But in such a tight midfield it’s often too close to predict and anything can happen to affect the order. While we did benefit from certain circumstances in the race, we showed good pace and deployed a strong strategy to gain track position at every opportunity.”
Although Alonso and Vandoorne profited from a double Red Bull retirement, Boullier praised the pair for “an incredible job”, making sure to highlight the Belgian’s recovery after a shocking start left him last by the exit of Turn 1.
“Both drivers did an incredible job – managing their tyres and fuel, regulating their pace, and reading the situation around them to maximise their track positions.
“Fernando drove masterfully to keep on top of the pack and attack cars further ahead, making great progress against our nearest competition to finish seventh. Stoffel, after suffering at the start and exiting the first corner last, made an impressive fightback through the field.
“Although most of them weren’t seen on our screens, he made no fewer than 11 on-track overtakes over the course of the race, to finish just behind his team-mate in eighth place. Congratulations to both of them for today’s excellent performances – their double-points finish is thoroughly deserved.”
The former Lotus team principal was keen to praise his team of mechanics for their work before turning his attentions to the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix, a race that sees Formula 1’s first back-to-back burst of 2018 come to a close. However, not fully content, Boullier insisted that McLaren must work on their Qualifying performance.
“I’d also like to say a massive well done to our mechanics for their excellent work in the pit-stops today,” he said.
“They really helped us to execute our strategy perfectly. Now we must keep our heads down, keep working hard, and first and foremost turn our attention to our qualifying performance to make an improvement in China in a few days’ time.”
Finally, the Frenchman sent his and McLaren’s well wishes to the stricken Scuderia Ferrari mechanic, Francesco Cigarini, who suffered a horrifying broken leg as a result of being hit by Kimi Räikkönen at the Finn’s disastrous second pitstop.
“We send our thoughts and best wishes to the Ferrari mechanic, and we hope he makes a speedy recovery.”