Whilst Stoffel Vandoorne admitted there was disappointment to only qualify fourteenth for the Chinese Grand Prix, the result was more or less where he expected to be, with the McLaren F1 Team not having had the pace in Qualifying to challenge for the top ten in any of the three races of 2018 so far.
The Belgian will line-up alongside team-mate Fernando Alonso on the seventh row of the grid and was just over half a second down on the kind of time he would have needed to make it into the top ten, with Vandoorne feeling there is plenty of work to be done to improve the performance of the MCL33 in qualifying conditions.
“Today’s result is obviously a little bit disappointing, but we’re more or less in the positions we were expecting to be in,” said Vandoorne.
“Since the start of the season we’ve been around these places in qualifying, so this is how it is at the moment. There’s some work ahead of us to improve our performance.”
At least Vandoorne can look at the long run pace the team showed on Friday to give them some hope of moving up the field, and after starting outside the top ten in the first two races, the Belgian was able to move up the field to claim points in both, something he hopes to do again on Sunday.
“On the positive side, our long run pace from Friday practice looks very promising, so we have something to play for tomorrow,” said Vandoorne. “We’ll also have free tyre choice, which looks to be something pretty crucial again here and will make a difference.
“The higher temperatures expected for tomorrow will play to our advantage in terms of tyre degradation, as most people ahead of us will be on the Ultrasofts. We’re looking to be ambitious again, take any opportunities, make no mistakes and have a strong race.”