McLaren’s Andrea Stella: “The weekend has certainly been bittersweet”

by Paul Hensby
Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren F1 Team - Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

McLaren F1 Team’s Performance Director, Andrea Stella, admitted the Mexican Grand Prix weekend was a ‘bittersweet’ one for the Woking-based outfit, with the positive coming from Stoffel Vandoorne finally ending his fourteen-race pointless run with an eighth-place finish, while the negative was that Fernando Alonso was forced to retire early.

Alonso was unfortunate to run into debris from Esteban Ocon’s Racing Point Force India F1 Team car that caused his MCL33 to suffer a water leak and subsequent pressure loss, ending his final Mexican Grand Prix after just a couple of laps.

“The weekend has certainly been bittersweet,” said Stella.  “Fernando once again didn’t finish the race, and was involved in a first-lap incident.

“His retirement was caused by a water pressure loss due to a leak, which may have been related to the incident due to running over debris, but we are still investigating.  Either way, he had significant debris stuck in his car, so had he continued it would have made his race very difficult.”

Stella says that aside from Alonso’s retirement, there were plenty of positives to take away from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, including the drive of Vandoorne, who despite being towards the back of the field at the start made superb use of his tyres to race to eighth place, his first top ten finish since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April.

“On the positive side, Stoffel scoring four valuable points after he was nineteenth at the end of the first lap was due to a combination of factors including some great overtaking manoeuvres, impeccable driving, and looking after the tyres to make them last for fifty-nine laps,” said Stella.

“Also, it was a great race by our strategy team, who realised we had to take a risk by extending our stint on the harder compound, and it paid off.  In addition, we did well to manage the cooling of the engine and the brakes which were both very marginal throughout the race, thanks to good preparation at the track and at the factory. 

“Finally, our pit-crew executed a great pit-stop today. In fact, I’d like to thank everyone in the team – not only in the garage but also back at the factory – for their constant commitment and development, and of course hard work so far this season.”

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