Stoffel Vandoorne found himself again eliminated from Qualifying at the first hurdle at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, but the Belgian felt it was a ‘pretty decent’ effort to end just over a tenth of a second down on team-mate Fernando Alonso, who did advance into Q2.
Vandoorne has yet to out-qualify McLaren F1 Team team-mate Alonso in 2018 and only has two more races to do so before he departs Formula 1 to race in the FIA Formula E championship, but he felt he did as much as he could in Qualifying in Mexico, only to end just 0.104 seconds away from advancing.
“It was actually a pretty decent qualifying effort,” said Vandoorne. “The times were extremely close and it’s a shame to miss out on Q2 by a couple of hundredths, but it just shows how close the field is.
“It’s a bit colder today which made it a little bit easier on the tyres. We’ll see tomorrow what the race will bring – hopefully tyre degradation will continue to be a big factor, and we’ll see how that pans out in the race.
“There’s always a little bit you can improve – it’s tricky around here because of the altitude, but it’s the same for everyone. In general, I was reasonably happy with my lap and I think it was pretty close to the maximum possible today.”
Vandoorne believes McLaren are closer to the pace this weekend than they were expecting to be, and with two places being gained on the grid thanks to penalties for Pierre Gasly and Romain Grosjean, he says it may give him opportunities to fight for points on Sunday.
“We’ve probably been a little bit closer here this weekend than expected and I hope we can show that tomorrow,” said Vandoorne. “I think it gives us opportunities, especially if the tyre degradation continues as we’ve seen this week.
“We’re going to have to be a bit lucky in order to bring home some good results. There’s always chaos here on the opening laps with all those tight corners. I remember I started last here last year and I think I made up eight places on lap one, so a lot can happen and I’ll try to do the same tomorrow!”