Stoffel Vandoorne managed to take some positives out of the Austrian Grand Prix, despite retiring with a gearbox problem whilst running at the tail of the field.
Vandoorne’s race was compromised on the opening lap, as he damaged his front wing when colliding with Pierre Gasly at Turn 3. To compound the Belgian’s problems, a issue with his gearbox prolonged his premature pitstop and put him in the clutches of the frontrunners on his return to the track.
The McLaren F1 Team driver dismissed the coming together with Gasly as “a normal racing incident”, explaining that he was powerless to avoid making contact with the Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda. Vandoorne also said that having to let the leaders go through to the detriment of his quest to return to the back of the pack was “frustrating”.
“It was a normal racing incident on lap one, into Turn 3,” he said.
“There were three or four cars side by side, and that corner closes up at the apex and the exit. There was no way to avoid contact, unfortunately.
“After pitting for a new nose, I came back out in traffic, getting blue flags straight away as the leaders went past me. It was very frustrating to have to let all the cars through.”
His problems aside, Vandoorne said that in laps leading up to his retirement on lap 65 he managed to find consistent pace in the car and believed that McLaren looked more competitive in race trim as opposed to qualifying. With team-mate Fernando Alonso scoring points at the Red Bull Ring, Vandoorne knows that he must fight for points this weekend at the team’s home race at the Silverstone International Circuit, his last top ten finish came at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April.
“Towards the end, I got some clear laps and managed to overtake some cars again,” he added.
“There was some pace in the car – if you look at the lap-times, we were much more competitive today than we were in qualifying. That’s a plus.
“The team getting another few points is another positive to take away from a difficult weekend.”