Vandoorne ‘expected’ grid penalties to arrive early

McLaren incurred its first big grid penalty in Russia for exceeding its season quota of power unit elements. That was just the fourth Grand Prix of the year, when the elements are meant to last the full 20-race season.

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Fernando Alonso had earlier said he was surprised that the penalties had come so early. However his team mate Stoffel Vandoorne felt that it had been inevitable.

“I think it was only a matter of time really after the issues we had in winter testing,” said Vandoorne.

“Going to the first races with so many issues … it was only a matter of time to get the grid penalties,” he sighed.

“This is just the situation we are in at the moment,” he added. “Whatever happens next, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

  • Alonso baffled by Vandoorne early grid penalty

Although yet to be hit by grid penalties, Alonso himself failed to start the Russian Grand Prix after his power unit failed on the formation lap.

He was less sanguine about the situation faced by the team. “It’s incredible that you have to be penalised in the fourth race,” he said.

“It’s still extremely disappointing to run into reliability and performance issues during a race weekend,” contributed McLaren race director Eric Boullier. “We must work together to pull ourselves out of this position.

“Stoffel’s 15-place grid penalty for fitting the fifth MGU-K and turbo of the season, meant he was always likely to be starting from the back. That was unfortunately the case.”

Honda’s head of F1 Yusuke Hasegawa admitted that Russia had been “an incredibly difficult and ultimately disappointing weekend.

“It’s a big disappointment for us that we’re not able to complete the race with both drivers,” he said. “But we will move forwards from this and keep pushing.

“We’ll continue working on our development in order to be more competitive with better reliability.”

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