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Stoffel Vandoorne
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Stoffel Vandoorne

Vandoorne column: Monaco debut encouraging despite crashes

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Vandoorne column: Monaco debut encouraging despite crashes
By:
Jun 1, 2017, 9:24 AM

In his latest column for Motorsport.com, McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne looks back at a promising Monaco Grand Prix showing thwarted by two inopportune crashes.

Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32
 Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Jenson Button, McLaren
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32
 Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32
 Marshals clear the wreckage after Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32, crashes
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32
 Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32
 Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32, crashes out of the race
 Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren

I may have had two accidents over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend and left there without any points on the board, but I think it was actually one of best weekends of the year so far for the McLaren-Honda team.

We knew Monaco was going to be one of our better performances, because there was a bit less of an engine penalty and I was very much looking forward to driving there as well.

Our performance was pretty strong throughout, and as I said, one of the best this season so far. So I’m talking a lot of positives away from the weekend.

Q3 challenge

There were certainly some new experiences to talk about. One was a bit of a strange feeling in being able to sleep in my own bed during a race weekend. And the other was having a new teammate, with Jenson Button coming on board to replace Fernando Alonso.

Jenson performed as I expected him to. He did very well from the start, adapting to the new cars quickly, and was immediately on the pace – which was good to see.

From my perspective, having Jenson there didn’t change much as I did my work as usual. We built things well up over the weekend during the practice sessions and into qualifying, because it is very important to feel confident and comfortable in the car.

It had been a good start of the weekend since the first free practice session, as 12th FP1 was followed by 11th in FP2 and 10th in FP3, confirming an encouraging performance of the car and the good feeling I progressively found with the track. Before the qualifying session i felt we can be in a good shape for Q3 and fully prepared for the Saturday afternoon challenge.

I got into Q2 for the first time this year, and my first lap in that session was good enough to get me into Q3. But, as a driver, you still want to explore the limits a bit more, so you keep pushing to try and find a bit extra – and that is unfortunately when I had my crash that meant I could not take part in Q3.

Sliding out of the race

The car was back in shape for the race though, and we had quite good pace in the beginning on the option tyre. In fact, I would say it was actually very encouraging.

We were following Lewis Hamilton because on the ultrasoft our pace was very good. But unfortunately after the pitstops, the pace was a bit more difficult on the supersoft and from then on, when the safety car came out, we had quite a lot of issues in warming up the tyres.

It was really difficult to keep the temperature in the brakes and in the tyres, and my situation was further complicated by the fight I was having with Sergio Perez.

He dived down the inside into Ste. Devote and unfortunately me going off line meant I got onto the marbles and there was nowhere to go other than off into the barriers.

It was not the end to the race weekend I had hoped for, but I am still encouraged by the progress we made – even though I know the track is one where the engine makes less of a difference. We have certainly made some good steps forward with the chassis and it seems every weekend when we bring new parts to the chassis, they improve things – which is really positive.

Next up is Canada. It is a very, very different track to Monaco, so it is hard to say how competitive we will be. It will also be a new track for me, but I am sure it is a circuit that I will enjoy very much – and I hope we can continue to show our progress there.

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Monaco GP
Location Monte Carlo
Drivers Stoffel Vandoorne
Teams McLaren Shop Now
Author Stoffel Vandoorne