Baku "most painful weekend ever" for McLaren's Boullier

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has described the Azerbaijan GP as the "most painful weekend" that he has experienced in the sport.

Baku "most painful weekend ever" for McLaren's Boullier
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
 Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
 Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32
Eric Boullier, Racing Director, McLaren, in the Team Principals' Press Conference
 Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32

The Woking team came to Baku knowing that both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne would start at the back of the grid due to new Honda power unit elements, having notified the FIA of the changes on Monday evening.

Alonso was handed 40-place grid penalties, while Vandoorne got 35.

On top of that, the car has performed poorly on track and neither driver made it out of Q1, with Alonso in 16th and Vandoorne 19th and last of the drivers who took part in qualifying.

"I guess you know my answer," said Boullier when asked to sum up the situation.

"I'm a racer like these guys [the drivers], so this is the most painful weekend I've ever had, I think."

McLaren still has to face 13 more race weekends in 2017 with multiple grid penalties guaranteed for both drivers, but Boullier says he's not focussing on the future.

"I don't think about it," he said. "Just race-by-race, and upgrade-by-upgrade, and we'll see."

Boullier acknowledged that the 'Stage 3' power unit run by Alonso on Friday had at least been a positive: "It's good to see some improvements in the performance coming."

Vandoorne said that McLaren's relatively modest performance in the tight and twisty middle sector in Baku reflected the low downforce set-up used to compensate for lack of straightline performance.

"We are obviously making a lot of compromises this weekend in terms of aero set-up to try and gain a little bit of speed down the straight," said the Belgian. "I think normally we should be running a bit more downforce, and we should be more competitive in the middle sector.

"But you know, going into this weekend having had penalties already, knowing we are starting from the back, we've been concentrating much more on getting the right amount of downforce for the race, let's say."

Alonso admitted that he's hoping that the race will be more eventful than last year's, and that attrition ahead will help him to make progress.

"Starting last we know that it's going to be a tough race, hopefully we can gain some places at the start, and with whatever incident may happen in front of us, try to take the benefit, try not to be in those incidents, try to stay away from the walls.

"It was the same last year, Friday and Saturday with many things happening, and then on Sunday nothing happened. So we'll see. Hopefully we'll compensate for what didn't happen last year."

 

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