Vandoorne thinks damage caused McLaren "rally car" handling

Stoffel Vandoorne believes damage to his McLaren MCL32 caused it to handle like “a rally car” during Formula 1's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Vandoorne thinks damage caused McLaren "rally car" handling
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32 and Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32, Pierre Gasly, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32, Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team RS17, Lance Stroll, Williams FW40

Vandoorne had been close to teammate Fernando Alonso's pace throughout the Yas Marina weekend, but struggled badly in the race, finishing more than a minute behind his teammate in 12th.

"It was a very difficult start to the race, I think there was some kind of damage to the car - or something, at least, was wrong in the beginning," Vandoorne said after the race.

"It really felt like a rally car to drive for me out there. We went into the pits early to change the tyres, to assess the damage on the car as well, and after the pitstop we still continued to struggle for a while.

"The pace gradually recovered a little bit but still nowhere near good."

The Belgian stressed the team still needed to analyse the issue, but suggested it could've been diffuser damage that made the car "undriveable".

Asked to elaborate on how the car felt to drive, he said: "There was no grip at all for me, a lot of sliding around, felt like a big problem. We have to check the data and see what was wrong."

Vandoorne was under pressure from the Haas of Kevin Magnussen and a host of other cars towards the end of the race, but kept position.

"I don't know how I managed [to stay ahead]," he said. "I think we maximised more or less everything with what we had today, to see the chequered flag and to keep the cars behind in the end was probably the best we could do."

Fellow McLaren driver Alonso admitted his own race was "not very exciting", aside from a scrap with the Williams of Felipe Massa for what would end up being ninth place.

"It went in our favour today and we overtook him after the stop," Alonso said.

"Nice race. Not very exciting from our position, just one battle there, and after that we were running alone most of the race, but good to finish in the points."

With Abu Dhabi marking the final race of the failed McLaren-Honda project ahead of the Woking-based team's switch to Renault engines next year, Alonso said he was happy about how the final race of the partnership turned out.

"It was an important race for this project," he said. "We wanted to finish in the points. We did a solid race and we scored two points, so happy with that."

He admitted his mind has been on 2018 for "a couple of races" now, before adding: "Three years of this project. We should be proud of what we tried to do.

"We didn't succeed in terms of results, but everybody worked very hard. We split our ways but hopefully we both find results in the future."

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