Sochi Autodrom, Sunday October 11
They say that to finish first, first you have to finish. While we did not achieve the former, wecertainly did the latter – and on an afternoon when many did not. As a result, McLaren-Honda scored two points, Jenson taking full advantage of the chaos in the closing laps to secure ninth. Fernando finished 10th, but was later demoted to 11th, following a stewards’ decision, for corner-cutting.
From the start, both drivers raced on the fringes of the top 10, but were gradually pushed back as other cars overtook them. Both drivers pitted under the Safety Car dispatched to enable Romain Grosjean’s Lotus to be cleared from the track, and then successfully measured their tyres and fuel to the end.
Late-race retirements for Carlos Sainz Jnr, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas helped both our drivers into the points.
#14 Fernando Alonso
Finished 11th (finished 10th but given 5s penalty for not respecting track limits at Turn 16)
Fastest Lap 1m43.265s on lap 45 (+3.194s, 15th)
Pit-stops One: lap 13 (2.43s) [Pri-Opt]
“To have both cars finish in the top 10 at a circuit where we didn’t expect to fare well, was a nice surprise. It was just a shame to lose out afterwards [owing to a 5s penalty for corner-cutting]. In fact, the car performed very well in the race – I think we were able to look after the tyres a little bit better than the cars around us, and, on an afternoon where every little bit helped, we made the most of that.
“We’ll now hope for more performance at the next race, in the USA. It’ll be tough, and we’ll have to remain realistic, but I’m definitely happy with today’s result.
“Now, we can keep moving forwards and improve things for the future.”
#22 Jenson Button
Fastest Lap 1m43.068s on lap 53 (+2.997s, 13th)
Pit-stops One: lap 12 (2.50s) [Opt-Pri]
“Today, we did everything right, did the best we could, and we took home some points.
“I was a sitting duck for the first couple of laps: I couldn’t really fight off the people behind, my deployment was cutting off at the end of the straights, so it was very easy for people to overtake. That was tricky: they were trying to pass me into Turn 13, which is a pretty scary place, especially when you don’t have DRS and can’t gauge the closing speed of the cars behind.
“Still, it wasn’t bad. I was racing Fernando for the whole race, which was all I could really do, as all the other cars were quicker.
“We haven’t made massive progress with the car’s performance, but we did lots of interesting things with the set-up this weekend. We’ll analyse those and see whether they paid off or not.”
Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“Rarely, if ever, have two world championship points been harder earned or more richly deserved, for Jenson and Fernando both drove the wheels off their MP4-30s here in Sochitoday.
“This circuit isn’t one that suits our car well, and our boys duly found it difficult to defend their positions on the straights in particular. But they didn’t put a foot wrong all afternoon, finishing ninth and 10th on the road, and I’m delighted that, as a result, we were able to score another points finish, even though sadly Fernando later lost his 10th place in the stewards’ room.
“I’d also like to say ‘well done’ to our friends at Honda, whose power units again performed with commendable reliability.
“We’ve got a lot of work still to do, but the good news is that, together, we’re successfully doing it.
“Next up is the United States Grand Prix at Austin, where we’re hoping to continue making steady progress. We know we’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re getting there.”
Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport
“I’m glad to have two cars home after such a chaotic race – and for Jenson to score two points for ninth position. Not only was this a difficult track for our power units, but there were also two Safety Car incidents and many more retirements.
“Our drivers and team remained calm throughout the afternoon, and we were able to stick to our strategies. I'm sure it was difficult to save fuel, keep calm, and push when needed during the race, but I think we came together in the end as a team.
“This points finish will be good motivation for further improvement at our next grand prix, in the United States.”