Vandoorne: MCL32 felt like a rally car
28 November 2017 – Stoffel Vandoorne compared the feel of his MCL32 during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to a rally car after "significant damage" compromised his prospects in Formula 1's season finale.
McLaren detected damage to Vandoorne's car during the early laps and he was unable to keep pace with team-mate Fernando Alonso, who overhauled Felipe Massa to take ninth.
Vandoorne, meanwhile clung to 12th position, leading a train of lower midfielders, as he finished over a minute behind Alonso.
"It was a very difficult start to the race," said Vandoorne.
"There was some damage to the car – we were really struggling and something felt very wrong.
"It was a bit like driving a rally car out there! There was no grip at all, the car was sliding around a lot and it felt like a big problem, so it was very tough from the beginning.
"I didn't have a nice feeling in the first stint, and even after the early pit-stop to assess what was wrong, I was continuing to struggle.
"Gradually everything got a little bit better and we recovered a bit, but I still felt very uncomfortable in the car and the pace was nowhere near where it should have been."
Vandoorne was nonetheless upbeat to reach the finish line, as he concluded his first full-time campaign in 16th place in the standings, one spot and four points behind Alonso.
"I was happy to see the chequered flag and close off the season," he said.
"I think we maximised everything we had to see the finish and keeping the cars in the pack behind us was the best we could have done under the circumstances."