Vandoorne column: McLaren can be best of the rest in Singapore
McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne looks back at a positive but fruitless Italian Grand Prix and explains why his team could have its best outing of 2017 in the next race.
Everyone at McLaren-Honda headed into the Italian Grand Prix prepared for a tough weekend but, despite the technical problems we had, it was actually quite a positive event for us.
In terms of the performance of our package on track, and from my personal side too, I think it was a very strong weekend considering the layout of Monza, and the straight line speed deficit we know we have. To be able to run in the top ten in practice, and to make it through to Q3, was a great result.
Heading in to qualifying, we knew the rain would give us a good opportunity. They were very tricky conditions for everyone, and it was difficult to make the tyre decisions in terms of intermediate or full wet tyres.
There was a lot of interaction with the team to make the best decision, but I think in the end it was a reasonable qualifying for us. In Q3 it was a shame we had the engine problem just before my final run, because I think otherwise we would have been able to start higher up.
That engine problem also meant I needed an engine change for the race, so I would be starting from near the back of the grid. That was disappointing because looking at our pace in the race, had we started in the top ten I am sure we could have stayed there.
Even so, coming from the back of the grid, my start was very good. I gained three or four places in the first lap and then gained a few other places on the opening laps.
We were actually going quite strong, and following the Toro Rosso, the Red Bull and the Haas on track. I felt we were quicker than them, but it was just very difficult to overtake.
So we decided to go a bit longer with the strategy to try to make the tyres last a long time. This was working well, but the very lap we were going to do the pitstop, the engine had the same issue as the day before in qualifying – so we were out.
It appears, however, that the failure does not mean a penalty for the next race in Singapore, because I think we can change the parts. So everything should be fine with the engine, and that is positive for Singapore because we want to have a trouble-free weekend.
I think Singapore will be a good opportunity for us to score some good points, but we need to remember there are two Mercedes, two Ferrari and two Red Bulls that will still be in front of us. So we just need to work hard and then I think we can emerge as the fourth team in Singapore.
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