Fernando Alonso: "A good day for morale.”
Fernando Alonso scored what he described as ‘the first point of many’ for McLaren-Honda today. It was a particularly opportune comeback: on lap one he spun to avoid an accident ahead of him, T-boning team-mate Jenson Button, and damaged his front wing, prompting a pit-stop to fit a new nose-box.
Thereafter, he put his head down, took a worthwhile gamble to make an early switch to Intermediate tyres as soon as the rain started, and moved into 10th position. When his closest challenger, Marcus Ericsson, switched from Inters to Options, then back to Inters as the rain ebbed and flowed, Fernando secured his position, despite increasingly worsening grip from his tired tyres.
Jenson’s home race was particularly cruel. He was eliminated on the first lap, the resultant impact lifting the car off the ground, switching it off in the process. He was out on the spot – a real pity, as this afternoon’s changeable conditions seemed perfectly suited to play to his strengths.
Fernando Alonso (Started 17th - Finished 10th): “It’s not the best of results, but 10th position helps to motivate everyone. The whole team is incredibly focused – they’ve been working day and night to improve the car – and we all know this is a long-term project, and there are no magic solutions, but to get a decent result, and to put some points on the table, is always important.
“The start was unbelievable. It was a big mess as we arrived at Turn Three. The two Lotus drivers were far too aggressive, and they touched each other; in avoiding them, I had a half-spin, and touched Jenson. There were a lot of retirements, and little common sense on display.
“Still, we know we’re improving, and today has been a good day for morale.”
Jenson Button (Started 18th - Finished DNF – accident on lap 1): “On lap one, there was an incident between two cars at the apex of Turn Three. Fernando tried to move to the right in order to miss them, and in so doing I think he lost the rear end and clipped my rear tyre. The impact lifted the car up and turned it off. With the engine not running, I had no option but to retire.
“When you start towards the back, there’s always a greater chance that incidents may occur because the closing speeds between cars are much larger.
“I just want to add that the crowd has been amazing all weekend – they were even clapping and cheering me after my race. It’s been such a nice atmosphere – very special – and I just wish I could have done more for them today.”
Eric Boullier - Racing director, McLaren-Honda: “Although it’s well worth mentioning that Fernando got off the mark in the 2015 world championship standings by finishing 10th here today, that isn’t an accomplishment we’re about to extol.
“Having said that, it was heartening to see that his car ran reliably all afternoon, even though its race pace was demonstrably insufficient. He never gave up, though, and his dogged efforts fully deserved the world championship point they earned him. Irresolute he is not.
“In the changeable weather conditions in which he usually excels, Jenson was very unlucky to be eliminated on lap one, through no fault of his or indeed of Fernando’s. Their collision was just one of those things – the culmination of an unavoidable chain reaction triggered by the unruly jostling for position by drivers immediately ahead of them. So, yet again, poor Jenson was unable to put on a show in his home Grand Prix, which was a great pity.
“As always, the Silverstone crowd was magnificent – 140,000 super-knowledgeable race fans shouting themselves hoarse – and it was fitting that a local hero, and an ex-McLaren driver to boot, won for them today.
“British Formula 1 fans are among the most loyal and passionate in the world, and we’re acutely aware of how steadfast their support for us has been and remains even in times of tribulation; speaking on behalf of all at McLaren-Honda, let me aver that next season we intend to give the Silverstone faithful something about which to enthuse.”
Yasuhisa Arai - Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport: “Thanks to a great job by the race team, and all Fernando’s efforts, he was able to gain a precious world championship point for us today.
“Jenson was unfortunately forced to retire due to the incident at the beginning of the race, so we still have a task ahead of us to get both cars to the finish in future races. On the plus side, our power units’ settings for both qualifying and the race were exactly as we targeted for this weekend, so we hope that this is headed in the right direction.
“The next circuit in three weeks’ time is a low- to mid-speed configuration, so energy management is going to be very important throughout the race. We’ll use the data learned today to race at Hungaroring.”