Formula 1

Stoffel Vandoorne: “I felt that the race was going to come towards us at the end”

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Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren F1 Team
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Stoffel Vandoorne felt it was ‘unfortunate’ for him to retire from the Spanish Grand Prix as he felt he would have been in the fight for the points had he seen the chequered flag on Sunday.

The McLaren F1 Team racer had been managing his Pirelli tyres well and felt he would have possibly been in a position to overtake some of his rivals had his car not given up the ghost as he crossed the line to start lap forty-six.

“It was an unfortunate end to the race,” said Vandoorne.  “I felt that the race was going to come towards us at the end, we had a one-stop strategy and extended the first stint to go very long on the Soft tyres.

“We had managed the tyres well and we wanted to create a big tyre delta to the others. It’s always hard to predict exactly where we would’ve ended up, but I feel at the end we could’ve had some more chances to overtake.”

Vandoorne felt he had his best start of the season but earned a five-second time penalty for failing to go around the bollard after running off track at turn one, although he was able to avoid the chaos when Romain Grosjean spun across the track and hit both Nico Hülkenberg and Pierre Gasly.

Unfortunately, his retirement ended McLaren’s perfect reliability record this season, although the cause of the retirement is still to be determined.

“We had a good launch for the first time this season!” said Vandoorne.  “The first corner was all about avoiding cars in slippery conditions with a lot of cars spinning off. It was difficult to keep the car on the track, especially at the beginning.

“We don’t know yet exactly what the problem was that ended our race early, but it looks like the gearbox as I lost drive completely. It’s a shame because we had reasonable pace.”

Vandoorne says the positive to take away from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is that the upgrades brought to the track appeared to be a step forward for McLaren, and he knows it is important further gains are made in the forthcoming races.

“The upgrades we brought here are definitely a first step forward,” said the Belgian.  “We’ve been able to make progress especially for qualifying, but there’s still a long way to go and we need to keep improving, and keep bringing some new parts to every race.”

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