McLaren F1 Team driver Stoffel Vandoorne feels he was “unfortunate” to be eliminated in Q1 for Formula 1’s Hungarian Grand Prix, believing he had the pace to match team-mate Fernando Alonso.
In a wet/dry/wet qualifying session at the Hungaroring, Vandoorne set the sixteenth fastest time in the first eighteen-minute segment, meaning he dropped out at the first hurdle for the fifth consecutive race, while also failing to out-qualify Alonso for the seventeenth successive grand prix.
After poor performances in previous grands prix was traced back to a chassis problem, the Belgian driver was afforded a brand-new chassis, as well as various technical upgrades to the MCL33.
As a result, he believed that a much stronger qualifying result was possible, and the combination of an unfortunately timed pitstop and a drying track was the main reason behind the early exit.
“It was quite tricky out there today – especially at the start of qualifying – to know what tyre to be on,” reflected Vandoorne. “And [to] make the right call about slick tyres, because the track was still quite hot from the sun during the day.
“Every time we crossed the line on a timed lap we were competitive, in the top 10 on both the Intermediates and on the slicks as well. It was all about being on track at the right time.
“We were just a bit out of sequence as we had to box the car about one minute before the end of Q1 so we didn’t get that final lap, right when the track was at its driest,” he explained. “That just wasn’t enough to get through to Q2.”
“It’s always a bit of a gamble in these conditions, as it can play out to be good or bad. It’s unfortunate, but these things happen. We tried hard.”
While Vandoorne qualified in sixteenth position, team-mate Alonso was also caught out by the increasing rain intensity in Q2, and set his best time on the first runs in the segment.
The double world champion will start the race in eleventh, just behind Romain Grosjean and alongside Daniel Ricciardo on the sixth row of the grid.