United States GP: Race notes - McLaren


Today was a solid and encouraging day at the office for McLaren-Honda. Both cars had a trouble-free race, despite Fernando Alonso starting in 12th position and Jenson Button in 19th. Both drivers made up valuable places off the start-line, narrowly avoiding collisions, and were running in ninth and 11th positions respectively after only a few short laps.

As he did in Malaysia, Fernando lucked in to a free pit-stop during a Virtual Safety Car deployment, and was duly able to move his way up the field to seventh. Two sterling overtaking manouvres in the last five laps cemented a sensational drive for him, and he crossed the finish-line in fifth place.

Jenson also had a very strong race, making up a number of places in the first few laps and spending much of the first half of the race on the fringes of the top 10. He was unlucky once again to miss out on the Virtual Safety Car window by one lap, dropping him back a place, but he drove faultlessly thereafter and maintained his position throughout the second half of the race, ultimately finishing in ninth for two points.

Fernando Alonso: "It was good and interesting today, I enjoyed it, especially the final part of the race. Carlos [Sainz] was on a different strategy and different tyres to me and Felipe, which allowed us to close the gap.

"Our tyres were in better condition than the Toro Rosso's and we took advantage of that. The last couple of laps were very intense, as we had some extra speed so we tried hard to overtake. It was quite easy to overtake the Toro Rosso as they're slow on the straights, so you just need to open the DRS. I was following Carlos for 45 laps and he drove very well, very consistently, zero mistakes - so we had a great battle.

"To get past the Williams today you needed to overtake them in different places, like tight, slow-speed corners, and quite forcefully, and it was tough but hopefully enjoyable for the fans.

"Our result today is nice for motivation, so I'm happy with fifth, but we gained a couple of positions because of other people going out, and our pace hasn't been great all weekend here, so we need to understand the reasons for that."

Jenson Button: "I'm pretty happy to get into the points after a frustrating day yesterday. The start was a bit of a crazy mess - there was so much action. Starting 19th makes your race a little bit more difficult but I had a good first couple of laps which I really enjoyed. I made up a lot of places and then fought my way into the top 10, and then I fluffed up my second pit-stop a little bit where I lost a place to Checo [Perez], but I think he would have got past me anyway.

"The second half of the race for me wasn't as exciting - I was looking after the tyres, judging the gap behind me, and trying to save the tyres to the end of the race to attempt to catch Checo, but I think I was about three seconds off at the end. I came home ninth which isn't too bad, and it's great to get some good points for the team on both sides of the garage. Fernando did a fantastic job to get to P5. He was very quick today, and the Safety Car helped him a lot - one day we'll get that luck too!

"I made some strong overtakes - some good, clean scraps - especially into Turn One, and I had a lot of fun fighting my way through, which made it a lot more enjoyable.

"For the rest of the season, it's important that we work on our Saturdays - trying not to make bad decisions and qualifying closer to the top 10, which means you have a lot more to fight with. Hopefully the next race in Mexico City will be a good one - I'm already excited about it - and hopefully we can get a good result there."

Eric Boullier, Racing Director: "It's always very satisfying when a great grand prix takes place in a country in which it's important that Formula 1 increases its following, and that's exactly what happened here in Austin, Texas, today.

"We saw exciting wheel-to-wheel battles up and down the field all afternoon, many of them involving our drivers. Fernando drove a storming race from 12th on the grid to fifth at the flag, forcing his way through the field with a series of brilliant passing manoeuvres; and if he has a rival for the 'driver of the day' accolade, it can only be Jenson, who blasted his way from P19 at the start to P9 at the finish. I'm proud of both of them, as are all of us at McLaren-Honda.

"It was gratifying to see that, despite our disappointing qualifying form yesterday, today, as we'd hoped and indeed predicted, our race pace was significantly more impressive, allowing our drivers to enjoy themselves enormously. You only had to look at the way our car changed direction to see how good its chassis is becoming. I also want to commend our partners Honda, whose power units ran flawlessly all afternoon.

"So today was a good day, undoubtedly. And I hope it was enjoyed by not only the tens of thousands of race fans who packed the grandstands to the rafters, but also by the tens of millions of race fans who watched the race at home, presumably on the edges of their seats."

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer: "It was a good United States Grand Prix for us today. Before the start it was extremely difficult for us to predict where we would be at the end of the race based on the qualifying results yesterday, but we knew that our race pace would be better and stable.

"Today, both of our drivers proved why they're worthy world champions. It was good to see such strong driving, and undying racing spirit from both. Fernando pushed hard until the last lap, enabling him to finish in P5 behind the Ferrari, and a brilliant push from Jenson saw him gain 10 places to finish in P9. A double points finish is a great result to bring momentum back to the team."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Austin, here.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 23/10/2016
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