Stoffel Vandoorne

Vandoorne column: I couldn't push for one lap in Canada

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Stoffel Vandoorne reflects on another challenging weekend in Canada, where fuel saving and a lack of power hurt his chances of a better result.

The Canadian Grand Prix was a race that I've looked forward to all season. I have been to Montreal for the past couple of years with McLaren, so I knew how great the city was, but this was my first time out on track. And I must say I really enjoyed the place – it is one of the best on the calendar.

Having not raced there, my main focus at the beginning of practice was to do a couple of laps to get used to the layout. It is important to quickly understand the circuit, but also to have a feeling with the car because after Monaco you take a bit of downforce off so everything feels a bit different again.

Our practice running started quite well, considering that on paper it was not a favourite circuit for us because a power deficit can hurt you quite a lot there.

At the end of FP2, though, we discovered a problem with the MGU-H and unfortunately we lost some running there. We had just finished our run on the option tyre, but I hadn't managed to have done a long run, so we missed that bit of data.

That missed run hurt us especially because Fernando hadn't done any long runs either, which meant we didn't have any information on how the tyre was going to behave or what the fuel effect was going to be.

Despite a far from ideal Friday, I still felt that on Saturday getting through to Q2 was possible. We did struggle a little bit to switch the tyres on for our first push lap, even despite a good build-up lap, so it was difficult to extract the most from the car.

Our second push lap was always better and unfortunately in Q1 we had a yellow flag just when I started my last attempt. It meant I couldn't improve and I didn't make it out of the session – which was a bit of a shame. I am pretty sure that if I had finished that lap it would have been good enough to progress into Q2.

The race itself was always going to be very challenging for us. We knew that the speed difference on the straight was going to be difficult, but the amount of fuel saving we had to do was very, very big – so we were always going to be a bit on the back foot.

The start of the race for me was very good though. I gained a couple of positions and I was running in 11th place after the first lap, so I was in a strong position early on.

But then it all went wrong after the Virtual Safety Car that was brought out after Max Verstappen stopped. There was some confusion with Kevin Magnussen, who overtook me before the VSC period ended.

I lost some time in this, and then I had a Williams and a Renault very close to me – and it was impossible to defend from them on the big straights. They came flying past me!

After that, it was just a case of bringing the car home. I didn't push on one single lap of the race because of the amount of fuel saving we were having to do.

Next up is Baku, and I think we will face a similar situation to Canada. There is a very long straight there, and we saw last year that it delivered one of the highest top speeds of the season. The slipstream has an incredible effect, and this year with more drag on the cars, there will probably be an even bigger benefit.

Let's see what happens. We will keep pushing as hard as we can.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Stoffel Vandoorne
Teams McLaren
Article type Special feature
Topic Stoffel Vandoorne