A difficult day in the McLaren Honda garage at the Canadian Grand Prix. Both Fernando and Stoffel did well to avoid any first-lap chaos – Fernando lucky to avoid being caught up in a three-car incident. Stoffel made a strong start from the line, taking advantage of the melee and crossed the line after the first lap in 11th place.
Both drivers opted for a one-stop strategy with a long first stint, and quickly settled into the pack. During the Virtual Safety Car following Max Verstappen’s retirement, Stoffel was overtaken by Kevin Magnussen before the VSC had ended – for which Magnussen later received a penalty, although the damage had been done as it left Stoffel vulnerable to the chasing pack behind on the notoriously power-hungry straights of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He lost four places in three laps, and was powerless to mount any sort of fightback, settling into 15th position for much of the remainder of the race following his sole pit-stop, until he was gifted a position (14th) on lap 67 of 70.
That position was granted to Stoffel by Fernando, who suffered a cruel fate three laps before the end of the race while in a points-paying position (10th) for the first time this season. On lap 67, Fernando lost oil pressure owing to a mechanical issue in the power unit, and was forced to retire from the race.
#SV2 MCL32-02Stoffel Vandoorne
Fastest lap 1m16.774s on lap 69 (+2.223s, 14th)
Pit-stops One: lap 45 (2.73s), [Option/Prime]
“It was a difficult race. I think we more or less knew that before the start. We found it tough on the straights, and also the amount of fuel saving we had to do today really hurt us. The closing speed of the other cars was really impressive, so we were a bit of a sitting duck. In the end, we made it to the finish, but it’s not the result we were hoping for.
“It’s incredibly difficult to stay with the group ahead, and when we can stay with the group we are vulnerable and don’t have the power to defend, so we have to invent some tricks to keep the other cars behind, and then it all starts to become very challenging.
“There’s no point moaning about it – I’m just trying to get on with my job – but I just hope there will be improvements soon so we can actually start racing with the others.”