Stoffel Vandoorne reckons early damage to his MCL32 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday left him driving what felt like a “rally car.”
While his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso raced into the points in McLaren’s final race with Honda, Vandoorne had a difficult evening.
The Belgian racer lost positions at the start and eventually finished P12.
“It was a very difficult start to the race, I think there was some kind of damage to the car or something – at least, [it] was wrong in the beginning,” he said.
“It really felt like a rally car to drive for me out there.
“We went into the pits early to change the tyres to assess the damage on the car as well, and after the pitstop we still continued to struggle for a while.
“The pace gradually recovered a little bit but still nowhere near good.”
The 25-year-old suspected that there may have been damage to the diffuser given the way that the car was handling.
That, though, has yet to be confirmed by McLaren.
“There was no grip at all for me, a lot of sliding around, felt like a big problem. We have to check the data and see what was wrong.
“I think we maximised more or less everything with what we had today, to see the chequered flag and to keep the cars behind in the end was probably the best we could do.”