Eric Boullier felt Fernando Alonso’s run from pit lane to points during the Austrian Grand Prix shows just the kind of driver he is, one who never gives up until the very end.
Following an overnight change of set-up, caused by a change of front wing following damage to the original during Qualifying, Alonso started from the pit lane at the Red Bull Ring but despite being at very rear of the field for the first stint, he was able to climb up the order and finish eighth, his first top ten finish since the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
“Fernando’s eighth-place finish was a fine example of his determination and never-say-die attitude,” said McLaren F1 Team Racing Director Boullier. “At the start of the race, when he was sat in his car in the garage, a points finish certainly didn’t look likely – but he drove superbly, looked after his tyres, and really put the hammer down when it was critical.
“His pursuit and pass of Charles Leclerc also shows there’s a bit more pace in the car on a Sunday than is usually evident on a Saturday. We’ll keep working to further unlock that.”
The second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne had a much more difficult afternoon, which started with the Belgian being forced to pit at the end of the first lap after contact at turn three with Pierre Gasly, and from there he was always at the back of the field with little hope of progress.
“Stoffel’s race was always going to be difficult after his lap-one clash at Turn Three,” said the Frenchman. “It was just a racing incident – there were a lot of cars side by side – and he was unfortunate to lose out.
“The first half of his race was dictated by traffic; he had to keep letting the leader past and couldn’t get into a rhythm.”
Boullier now hopes to put the run of difficult races for McLaren behind them as they turn their attention to their home Grand Prix at Silverstone this coming weekend, aiming to see both drivers score points.
“After a difficult couple of grands prix, we head to our home race at Silverstone hopeful of a more rewarding weekend,” said Boullier.