Formula 1

Vandoorne cautious over McLaren chances despite top ten finish on Friday

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Stoffel Vandoorne - 2018 Austrian GP - Formula 1
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Despite ending the day in the top ten, Stoffel Vandoorne has warned against expecting a repeat performance from the McLaren F1 Team as the Austrian Grand Prix weekend progresses.

Vandoorne moved up from seventeenth in a test-like morning session to tenth for Free Practice 2, 1.3 seconds adrift of Lewis Hamilton‘s quickest time. The Belgian finished comfortably ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso, who underwent major work on his car, as the Spaniard saw his afternoon’s progress stunted.

The under fire McLaren driver said that the morning’s session was unrepresentative, with the team focussing on consistency, but the afternoon showed a potential glimpse of what the MCL33 can do. However, like Alonso, Vandoorne bemoaned the balance of his car.

“It was a pretty busy day today,” said Vandoorne.

“The morning was spent evaluating a number of new parts and ideas, which meant that the real focus was on getting some consistent laps and some good, clean data.

“In the afternoon, I was able to get into more of a rhythm with the car, and, while we didn’t really manage to get the balance right, the times weren’t too bad.”

He added that McLaren must not rest on Friday afternoon’s showing, as the team can be prone to sliding down the order once the pace ramps up. McLaren ended Free Practice with Alonso and Vandoorne in fourth and sixth respectively in France a week ago, only to see both cars fail to get out of Qualifying 1 just hours later.

“We still need to work hard, as we’ve seen before that we can look reasonably competitive on a Friday only to drop down the order on Saturdays,” he added.

“The most important thing is that we got some good learning done during the sessions, but it’s still too early to say where we are in the competitive order.”

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DTM, Formula 1 writer and deputy editor for The Checkered Flag. Autosport Academy member and freelance voice over artist.
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