Marina Bay Circuit, Sunday 17 September
Stoffel Vandoorne finished seventh and brought home six valuable world championship points for McLaren Honda at the end of a long and chaotic Singapore Grand Prix.
The race was started in rainy conditions, which contributed to a Turn One accident that left a fast-starting Fernando Alonso with significant damage to his car. Despite soldiering on for a couple of laps, the car was too badly damaged to continue and Fernando was forced to retire.
Stoffel took avoiding action to miss the first-lap crash, but was able to consolidate his position inside the top 10. He always looked competitive on-track whether running in the wet or dry, and was set to challenge for the top six until being delayed during a slow pit-stop on lap 27.
Seventh was a solid reward for both his and the team’s efforts all weekend.
FERNANDO ALONSO, McLaren Honda Driver, MCL32-02
|Fastest lap||2m13.579s on lap 6 (17th)|
“My start was brilliant. The car did an amazing launch and I managed to gain several positions, up to third place, but after that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I wasn’t aware of what was happening on the inside, all I know is that at Turn One some cars crashed and hit us. In that situation, you are just a passenger, there’s nothing you can do.
“Unfortunately, that hit was too much for our car. From the cockpit you don’t understand how much damage there is, but the car didn’t feel great, it had a lot of oversteer so I asked the team what was the damage but they were not completely sure because they’d lost the telemetry. At the end, we had some electrical problems and we had to stop.
“These things sometimes happen in motor racing and unfortunately it happened to us today. We had so much hope for this race, and in wet conditions we are very strong so the disappointment is even bigger.
“Despite my disappointment this evening, it’s actually been a positive and fun weekend - the team has done an outstanding job and I’ll be hoping for better luck in Sepang in a fortnight’s time.”
STOFFEL VANDOORNE, McLaren Honda Driver, MCL32-03
|Fastest lap||1m46.722s on lap 52 (6th)|
|Pitstops||Two: laps 12 (3.261s) and 27 (9.306s) [Full Wet/Intermediate/Option]|
“That was definitely an eventful race!
“To race under the rain at the beginning was definitely not easy, so my main focus was just to stay out of trouble, which we managed to do. From that point on, I just managed my own race.
“I think seventh place was really the best it was going to get for me today. Sixth was perhaps on the cards at one point, but it didn’t work out at my second pit-stop. After that, I just focused on getting everything I could from the car and maximising the performance.
“Getting a couple of points means we finish our weekend on a high.”
ERIC BOULLIER, McLaren Honda Racing Director
“When the heavens opened shortly before the start, we knew this was going to be an exciting and unpredictable Singapore Grand Prix - and so it proved to be.
“Through it all, Stoffel finished a magnificent seventh, battling throughout and really maximising the potential of our car whether he was running Full Wets, Intermediates or Option tyres.
“We think sixth was within our reach had he not been delayed at his second pit-stop. The front jack failed to engage properly, which meant the left-front wheel wasn’t lifted off the floor properly, which resulted in a slow removal. That delay meant he wasn’t able to close on [Jolyon] Palmer despite a spirited chase.
“It was a phenomenally disappointing day for Fernando. He’d made a brilliant start in the wet conditions but was harpooned by Verstappen’s car at Turn One. It was a significant impact, one which tore open the bodywork, damaged the floor and, ultimately, holed an exhaust.
“We were able to assess the initial damage as he passed through the pits behind the Safety Car, but, at racing speeds, it became immediately apparent that he couldn’t continue. We had to retire the car shortly afterwards.
“Despite failing to get one car to the finish through no fault of our own, this was a positive day for the whole team. We may not be as competitive around the fast sweeps of Malaysia, but this result will serve to remind us all that we can race hard at the front whenever the slightest opportunity presents itself.”
YUSUKE HASEGAWA, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“The heavy rain that began just before the start made today’s race enormously difficult for us.
“Although Fernando made a great start, he was involved in an unfortunate incident at Turn One and ultimately retired on lap eight due to the inflicted damage. I think he would have been able to race with the frontrunners if he had continued, so it was very disappointing for everyone in the team.
“Stoffel’s pace was competitive and he drove incredibly well, including overtaking his rivals on a track that is notoriously hard to pass on. He eventually crossed the line in seventh, his best result of the season, taking more precious points for the team. He did a great job today.
“Although we had the package to finish today’s race in a better position without incident, it was still a positive step forward for the team that we were able to bring one car home in the top 10.”