“A hugely positive step for the whole team”
Circuit de Monaco, Sunday May 24
McLaren-Honda scored its first points of the season at Monaco today.
Starting from 10th, Jenson Button drove a typically unruffled race to eighth, earning the team four points. In fact, Jenson was never out of the top 10 all afternoon; he moved past Pastor Maldonado when the Lotus driver encountered brake issues, then jumped Max Verstappen when the Dutchman was delayed in the pits.
The late-race Safety Car offered the opportunity to catch Sergio Perez, but he was unable to generate enough temperature in the tyres to mount a sustained challenge to the flag.
Fernando Alonso’s race started well – he made a strong start to jump from 13th to 11th, but was given a five-second penalty (which he took at his pit-stop) for clashing with Nico Hulkenberg as the pair turned into Mirabeau on lap one. Fernando was the first driver to start on Primes, and his pace looked strong at the start of the race; however, his afternoon came to an end after 41 laps with an as-yet-unspecified overheating issue.
Fastest lap 1m19.490s on lap 76 (+1.427s, 9th)
Pitstops Two: laps 35 (3.56s) and 64 (3.00s) [Opt-Pri-Opt]
“It’s been a positive day for us. We were hoping to score a point today, and we scored four. I certainly didn’t expect to finish eighth.
“At the start I lost a position to Nico [Hulkenberg], but got it back by going around the outside of him at Turn Three on the first lap, which was good fun. Once I got past Pastor [Maldonado], my race was basically about turning quali lap after quali lap: it was flat-out.
“That was tough – in fact it was pretty physical out there – but I really enjoyed it.
“I’m really happy for the team – we’ve worked hard to get into this position, and they deserve this. We have work to do, but this is a hugely positive step for us.”
Finished Ret - overheating
Fastest lap 1m20.459s on lap 36 (+2.396s, 16th)
Pitstops One: lap 32 (3.10s + 5s penalty) [Pri-Opt]
“At the start, I don't think I deserved the penalty [for the incident with Hulkenberg]. At that particular moment, I don't know what else I could have done.
“Most significantly, it’s a pity we couldn’t finish the race today. The car started to upshift in a really strange way on the lap before I stopped; then, on the first corner, I had no braking. The car stayed in neutral and I couldn’t put it in gear.
“That’s frustrating because we could have had both cars in the point for the first time this season. We need to keep improving the car to ensure these sorts of things don’t happen again. Still, having these problems this year is good, because it means we won’t repeat them next year.”
Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“Since the beginning of the season we’ve been consistent in our messaging: we’re all working extremely hard, and the result of that arduous toil is steady improvement.
“Today, thanks to Jenson’s eighth place, our renewed McLaren-Honda partnership was rewarded with its first world championship points – a result that underlines that steady improvement.
“Okay, we’ve now squirrelled away four world championship points, but, although Jenson drove very well, we won’t waste time celebrating that milestone. Yes, it’s encouraging, but our ambitions run to far greater heights than eighth places. And we’ll achieve them, believe me.
“For Fernando, finally, this afternoon was another frustrating one, and we’re still investigating the cause of his retirement. He, too, drove very well, and, had his car proved reliable, would also have scored world championship points.”
Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport
“Thanks to Jenson's steady run, and the team's effort to improve the power unit’s driveability for Monaco, we earned our first points of the season today. It feels like we’ve now finally arrived at the start-line of the race calendar.
“As for Fernando, he left the garage feeling confident that he could finish in the points. He was running well in the race – and I also felt confident that we could see both cars in the top 10 for the first time this season – but, unfortunately, a drive-fail warning popped up and ended his race prematurely.
“As always, McLaren-Honda will keep pushing as a team and work towards better results at the next race.”