The Russian Grand Prix was the best performance out of the McLaren-Honda team in quite some time. What made it even more refreshing, was that they didn’t expect it this weekend. For just the second time since the start of last season, McLaren earned double points.
Fernando Alonso finished sixth today while his teammate Jenson Button came home 10th. It was the first race this season that either came home with a top 10 result as it was Alonso’s first top 10 since a fifth place effort at Hungary 13 races ago and Button’s first top 10 since the US Grand Prix last October.
“A double points-finish is a great result for the entire team, and a real marker of the progress we’ve been steadily making since the start of the season,” said Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director.
Alonso, credits that opening last crash to why he had such a great finish as all he had to do from then was hang on.
“We were lucky in Turns Two and Three on the opening lap – due to those accidents, we were able to gain some places for free,” said a happy Alonso.
“But, as we saw last year, we can make a good start but then not be able to maintain those strong starting positions. This year, it’s different – we have the pace: to finish sixth, and set the fifth-fastest lap, shows that our car is still gaining pace.
“In fact, the car felt good all race – obviously, we were saving fuel at some points of the afternoon, but, on one lap, I just decided to go for it – to wake myself up a little bit! – and the lap-time showed the potential is there.
“Finishing in the points should be our regular target from now on.”
Button, got by Carlos Sainz late to get double points for the team since Hungary in 2015.
“To get both cars home in the points – and at a track which we didn’t feel would really suit our package – is a fantastic result for the whole team.” said Button.
“As the pack dived into Turn Two, I had to back off because it was mayhem. The bollard at Turn Two is the problem at the start because people are trying to fight through Turns Two and Three. I think that needs some looking at.
“From there, I was disadvantaged, but the pace was in the car. After that, it was just a case of fighting my way back – which I really enjoyed. It’s difficult to overtake around here, but I was able to make a few moves and enjoy myself.
“I think the next race in Barcelona will be reasonably difficult for us, but there’s no reason not to look forward to targeting another points haul in Monaco.”