Stoffel Vandoorne admitted the gamble to attempt to finish the Chinese Grand Prix with just one pit stop did not pay off for him, with the Belgian ending outside the points in thirteenth on Sunday.
For the first time in 2018, the McLaren F1 Team racer was unable to match team-mate Fernando Alonso in starting outside the top ten and scoring points for a third consecutive Grand Prix weekend, with a sluggish opening lap seeing him drop down the order.
However the decision to stick to their one-stop strategy, particularly with the safety car being deployed, but the pace was not good enough in the closing laps, and coupled with a vibration Vandoorne ended outside the points for the first time in 2018.
“I didn’t have a great start today and lost a few places on the opening lap,” said Vandoorne. “I managed to make three solid overtakes to make a few positions back before the pit-stop.
“The question for us was whether to make one or two stops when racing the other cars around us, and unfortunately our one-stop strategy didn’t really pay off in the end because the others around us benefitted from pitting under the Safety Car.
“We thought there might be more opportunities at the end, but we didn’t have the pace and I felt a strong vibration in the car which made the last few laps difficult.”
The one positive Vandoorne feels McLaren can take away from China was the confirmation once more that their race pace is much stronger at this point of the season that their pace in Qualifying, but he hopes that in between China and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the end of the month, this can be addressed so they can start from a better position around the streets of Baku.
“It wasn’t the day we were hoping for, but despite this, we still showed that our race pace today was stronger than our qualifying pace,” said Vandoorne.
“We’re working hard to improve this and our performance on Saturdays, and hopefully we can have a stronger weekend in Baku.”