Stoffel Vandoorne

Vandoorne column: Spain frustration hid McLaren's progress

In his latest column, Stoffel Vandoorne reflects on the Spanish GP, a weekend where McLaren showed progress but that still proved frustrating for the Belgian.

The Spanish Grand Prix may not have given us the result we had hoped for, but I think it was actually quite an encouraging weekend for McLaren-Honda as a whole.

Of course there was Fernando Alonso's great performance in qualifying, but it was good for the team that the updates that we brought to our car in Spain worked as we had hoped.

As the first European race, the Spanish GP is always quite an important one because a lot of the teams bring big upgrades to the car. We brought a lot of new parts, and for the team it was essential to have those bits ready and they helped lift our performance.

Friday practice was very good, and it was my first one of the season without any problem, which helped me feel more comfortable in the car. So definitely it looks like we have made a step forward.

I was feeling very positive to even improve a little bit for Saturday, for qualifying, but I think we went a little bit in the wrong direction with the set-up.

From the first moment out on track in the morning, I felt a little bit less comfortable in the car. So I think the result in qualifying was definitely not what I was expecting after a good Friday

Although the result wasn't good, what was positive was coming away from it knowing where we had gone wrong. It was actually very, very useful for understanding what I need from the car to be quick.

My race itself did not go to plan either, thanks to a collision with Felipe Massa midway through the race at Turn 1 as we battled for position.

What is difficult in situations like that is the positioning of the mirrors on F1 cars means we cannot see anything directly behind us. So I took my reference of where Felipe was at the start of the straight, and I judged that the gap with him would be enough for me to stay in front through Turn 1.

When he was tucked right in my slipstream I couldn't see him any more, so I was quite surprised when I turned in to the first corner and he was there. By the time I saw him, it was too late and we touched.

The clash has meant I have got a grid penalty for the Monaco Grand Prix, so I have to accept the situation now. I am not going to moan about it nor get frustrated by it – I'm moving on from here.

I'm just looking forward to the Monaco Grand Prix. I don't want to make any firm predictions about how we will go there, but we should have some new parts there and I hope we can show that our competitiveness is improving and we see more steps of progress.

Monaco is certainly a track I enjoy and it is an exciting challenge. I've won there in GP2 so I definitely feel that I can go there and do my best.

I will have a new teammate there too, with Jenson Button returning to F1. I've seen him in the simulator at the McLaren factory and I know he is getting some good preparation done. When we see each other again in Monaco, I know he will be ready.

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