Today we saw a double retirement for McLaren-Honda in Montreal as both Fernando Alonso and then Jenson Button retired from the Canadian Grand Prix. Both were forced to return to the garage with unrelated exhaust issues.
Fernando began the race on the Option tyre. He got away well from P13 and had a strong first lap, rising to P11. Conserving tyres and fuel, he fell back in the opening stint after good battles with Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel. He was the final Option runner to pit, switching to the Prime tyre on lap 31. He increased his pace after his pit-stop but was forced to retire on lap 46.
Jenson started from P20 on the grid, having failed to set a time in qualifying yesterday. He also carried a penalty into the race for MGU-H and turbo replacements, and was duly required to perform a drive-through. He ran 45 laps on the Prime and was the last driver to pit-stop. Having switched to the Option, he set a string of personal best lap-times before retiring the car on lap 58 with an exhaust issue unrelated to the one suffered previously by Fernando.
Jenson Button: "It was obviously a very difficult day, made even more difficult for me since I'd started last with the addition of a drive-through penalty in the first three laps. I was then obviously out of sequence; the leaders lapped me, pitted and then lapped me again.
"One of our biggest issues today was fuel saving. In addition, we lost a bit of tyre temperature as well. That said, our pace on the Prime tyre was pretty good.
"I guess it's easy for people to look at today's result and say we're having a bad season, but that's not actually the case. We've made very big improvements since the first race, in fact. You do have difficult days, and today was undoubtedly one of those, but that's always the way of it when you begin a new project and you're starting from zero. So, yes, we're still quite a long way behind the other teams in terms of power unit development, and even the design philosophy behind our car too; but if you don't take a stab at it at the start of the season with a new project like this, you're never going to be able to fight the top guys.
"Today was quite painful, yes, but so far this season there's been improvement at every race, with the exception of today. The layout of the circuit here was always going to be tough on us, but hopefully we'll be back on track in Austria where we have some updates coming."
Fernando Alonso: "Obviously, I'm a little bit sad to have suffered a third consecutive retirement. I lost power and I had to pit, and that was it. Definitely, we need to put some things in order - we know the situation for what it is but what we have to do now is work harder than ever because we want to change the situation more than ever. All the developments I know are coming for future races make sense, so I can see positive signs. I think we need to be patient now, and we need to continue to work incredibly hard.
"It's been a difficult weekend for both Jenson and me, with Saturday's problems and now today's DNFs. Hopefully, though, we've learned a lesson, and it's better that all these problems are happening now, while we're not yet competitive. If, one day, we're fighting for a podium finish, or for a victory, and we have to retire the car, that will hurt even more than these retirements hurt; so, as I say, we're learning important lessons every weekend, and gradually we'll put things right."
Eric Boullier, Racing director, McLaren-Honda: "In a word, today's race was disappointing. Fernando made a good start, moving up from P13 on the grid to P11 at the end of lap one. Thereafter, however, he was unable to stem the tide of rival cars passing him, owing to a straight-line speed deficit compounded by fuel consumption concerns that caused him to have to lift and coast extensively all afternoon.
"By lap 20 he'd dropped to P16, and by lap 46 his race had come to an end, owing to an as-yet-unspecified exhaust issue.
"Jenson started the race from the back of the grid, having not been able to enter qualifying yesterday. He immediately had to perform a drive-through penalty, owing to our having had to replace his car's MGU-H and turbo before today's race.
"He'd climbed to P18 by lap 58, when he too was forced to retire, owing to an unrelated exhaust issue.
"Clearly, as I say, all of that was and is disappointing, very much so. But, as I said yesterday, we know what we have to do to improve, and we're doing it. It may take us some time, but we'll get there.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank and praise both Fernando and Jenson, who are continuing to drive brilliantly in very trying circumstances, both of them digging deep and working extremely hard behind the scenes to help us move forward towards reliable competitiveness and eventual success.
"The staff of both McLaren and Honda, too, are working tirelessly to effect the same result.
"Finally, I want to pay tribute to our fans, whose steadfast support in these difficult times is impressive and edifying in equal measure. Truly, they really do #BelieveInMcLarenHonda, and that's incredibly heartening to see. Thanks, guys, I really mean it."
Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport: "We're extremely saddened by this weekend's result. The team had worked so hard to rectify the issues we'd encountered during the free practice and qualifying sessions, and against the odds we'd managed to get both cars ready for the race. However, both cars then retired owing to unrelated exhaust issues.
"Fernando's car suffered a rise in exhaust temperature and had to be called back into the garage. We think Jenson's car also had an issue in the exhaust area, but we won't know for sure until the car is back at the factory.
"The next grand prix, in Austria, will be run on another high-speed circuit, but we'll get to the bottom of today's issues, rectify them, and prepare for that race."
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