Stoffel Vandoorne feels his McLaren F1 Team has a competitive car around the Circuit de Monaco this weekend, but the Belgian was left to rue after a small problem ahead of qualifying left him unable to advance into the top ten shootout.
Vandoorne instead will start twelfth after going into the session on the back foot and with an unbalanced MCL33, with the car feeling different to how it performed during final practice on Saturday morning.
“We had a competitive car in FP3, but then discovered a small problem before qualifying,” said Vandoorne. “There was no time to fix it, so we had to go into this afternoon’s session without the right settings. Immediately, it felt a bit different; not as good as FP3, and a little bit unbalanced.
“That wasn’t ideal for qualifying, but won’t be a worry for tomorrow as it can be fixed.”
Despite the problem and the usual traffic problems around the Monaco street circuit, Vandoorne was able to qualify twelfth, with the Belgian feeling that without those problems he should have comfortably joined team-mate Fernando Alonso inside the top ten.
“We were still very competitive considering what happened; we had good pace in Q1 and Q2, and were a bit closer up the field,” said Vandoorne.
“A bit of traffic on my out-laps and not-the-most perfect lap meant I finished 12th. We were two tenths up on the delta, so I think it would’ve been easy to get into Q3.”
Vandoorne says starting on the Hypersoft compound may not be the way to go on Sunday due to its relatively short tyre life so having a free choice on starting tyre will open up the strategy options and perhaps put him into contention for a top ten finish.
“I’m obviously disappointed, but there’s definitely the potential for points tomorrow,” said the Belgian. “We can decide on our starting tyre: the Hypersoft doesn’t look to be the best race tyre, so starting on a different compound could hopefully open some doors for us.
“We’ll just need a bit of luck on our side tomorrow.”