McLaren 'rally car' a real handful for Vandoorne

© XPB 

Stoffel Vandoorne says his McLaren MCL32 was a real handful on Sunday, believing damage was the root cause for the car's loose behaviour.

The Belgian hadn't been far off the pace of team mate Fernando Alonso from the start of the Abu Dhabi weekend, but it all got very complicated in the race in which Vandoorne could do no better than twelfth.

"It was a very difficult start to the race, I think there was some kind of damage to the car - or something, at least, was wrong in the beginning," Vandoorne said after the race.

"It really felt like a rally car to drive for me out there. We went into the pits early to change the tyres, to assess the damage on the car as well, and after the pitstop we still continued to struggle for a while.

"The pace gradually recovered a little bit but still nowhere near good."

The 25-year-old suspected possible damage to the MCL32's diffuser may have caused the handling issues.

"There was no grip at all for me, a lot of sliding around, felt like a big problem. We have to check the data and see what was wrong.

"I think we maximised more or less everything with what we had today, to see the chequered flag and to keep the cars behind in the end was probably the best we could do."

Fernando Alonso concluded his 2017 campaign in the points with a run to P9, although he said the performance was nothing to write home about despite a good scrap with Felipe Massa and Carlos Sainz.

"Nice race. Not very exciting from our position, just one battle there, and after that we were running alone most of the race, but good to finish in the points."

Still, the result puts a positive last note on the table for the beleaguered McLaren-Honda partnership.

"It was an important race for this project," he said.

"We wanted to finish in the points. We did a solid race and we scored two points, so happy with that."

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