Stoffel Vandoorne

McLaren preview the Monaco Grand Prix

Stoffel Vandoorne

The Monaco Grand Prix is one of Formula 1’s highlights. It takes place on the tortuous streets of the Principality and the intoxicating mix of glamour and history makes it one of the most prestigious races for drivers and teams to win. It was first run in 1929 and it featured on the inaugural world championship calendar in 1950, since when the track layout has remained largely unchanged.

Stoffel Vandoorne: “Although the Spanish Grand Prix result was frustrating and of course not a result that we were looking for, we were still able to find some positives over the weekend. The upgrades we brought to the car have delivered the performance we were hoping, and we managed to take a lot of information from each day on track, which has been really useful for the engineers and the design team back at the factory and is helping our programme from race to race. Since Barcelona, I’ve been back at MTC in the simulator, and I feel ready and excited to head to Monaco. It’s the first time that I’ll be racing in my ‘back yard’, as it’s recently become another home race for me. It’ll also be my first time behind the wheel there in a Formula 1 car, but it’s not the first time I’ve driven on the famous Monaco circuit. I raced there in GP2 for three years, and also in World Series by Renault, so I know it pretty well and enjoy driving there. It’s one of those tracks where even if you have the best-performing car, but you’re a victim of bad luck in the traffic, it can affect the outcome of the whole weekend. It makes for really exciting racing for the fans, and anything can happen there. It’s also great to see Jenson back in McLaren-Honda colours and alongside me in the garage. Both of us love driving on this circuit and I hope it’ll be the best opportunity for us on track so far this season. I know both of us will also be keeping one eye on everything happening in Indianapolis, too, and hope Fernando can also enjoy a good weekend over there.”

Jenson Button: “It feels slightly surreal to be back in the cockpit for the Monaco Grand Prix. When the call came from Eric there was no hesitation – it’s a totally unique situation and a great opportunity. I’m looking forward to stepping back behind the wheel for one of the most crazy, unpredictable and exciting races of the year. Monaco is truly unique as a track, and requires a lot of work to fine-tune the car and optimise the set-up for the narrow layout. It’s always a challenge – a huge challenge, for any driver – but a really exciting challenge, and has always been up there in my favourite races of the year. Although I haven’t turned a wheel on track yet in the MCL32, I feel well prepared. I know the track well, of course, and I’ve done quite a bit of work in the McLaren simulator already. I’m still fit, and I’ve been training probably more than ever, because I’ve had the time to focus on my triathlon preparation and competitions. I’m looking forward to working with the team again, and, as I’ll be on the other side of the garage this time around, I’ll do my best to look after the car for Fernando!”

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director: “The Monaco Grand Prix is often referred to as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Formula 1, and it’s easy to see why. It’s every bit the spectacle you see on TV, and, due to the traditional ‘rest day’ on Friday which sees the schedule for practice shift forward by a day, the Principality is always a buzzing hive of excitement from early in the week. Of course, for McLaren Honda, this final weekend in May is even more significant than usual this year. For the first time in recent history, we’ll be supporting two teams on opposite sides of the world, with Fernando taking part in his first-ever Indy 500 with McLaren Honda Andretti. In the famous Monaco paddock, we welcome the return of Jenson, who we are all looking forward to working with again, and who is already doing a sterling job deputising for Fernando, having already completed stints in our simulator in preparation. From a trackside point of view, we’ll be bringing more updates to the car this weekend, which we hope will return positive feedback to mirror what we saw in Spain. Despite our result there, we‘re encouraged by the progress we’re making, and hope in Monaco we’ll have the opportunity to execute a more representative performance than those we’ve managed in recent races. Of course, the first priority is to finish the race with both cars, and work through the best possible strategy in order to give ourselves any fighting chance of a decent result. In Monaco, you can’t take anything for granted, and it’s certainly all to play for.”

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer: “This is a particularly special week for everyone at McLaren-Honda. Not only are we heading to Monaco for the Formula 1 jewel in the crown, we also have Jenson back racing with us and Fernando competing in the Indy 500. Monaco is one of the most legendary races in the world and full of history. It’s always incredible to watch, and for the team, drivers and fans it’s a highlight on the motor racing calendar. In Spain two weeks ago we showed some positive steps forward, and in Monaco outright power plays less of a role, so we are hoping the race will be a big opportunity for us. It’s very technical and a real drivers’ track with no margin for error, so set-up will be key as will a strong qualifying session. We will have Jenson, a Monaco winner and world champion, behind the wheel, and Stoffel has also experienced the top step of the podium in Monaco in GP2. Between them we have a formidable driver line-up and it’s our aim to keep pushing forward and give them both a car competitive enough to finish in the points.”