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Vandoorne relieved with ‘back to normal’ McLaren

27 Jul 2018

Stoffel Vandoorne was hoping that reverting to an old MCL33 chassis at the Hungaroring would stop the rot of his recent run of form. And he was cautiously optimistic following his first day’s running in Hungary...

Vandoorne was last in both of the dry Free Practice sessions at last weekend’s German Grand Prix, after revealing that he’d sensed an issue on his McLaren's chassis since the first racing lap at Silverstone. He then finished a distant 13th in the race, having suffered a technical glitch midway through.

But following a positive day in Hungary, where the Belgian driver showed some decent long run pace having switched back to an old chassis – and barring a dramatic spin during his qualifying simulation run – Vandoorne was clearly relieved to have found a potential way out of his recent results trough.

“The feeling was actually back to normal,” said Vandoorne, “so that was a positive thing to get into this weekend – we actually had a normal Friday where we could work normally on the car set-up.

“Unfortunately no lap time on the ultrasofts for me because I spun off the track, but long run pace was good, back to normal, quite competitive. A good feeling in the car again and it feels finally like tomorrow we can start putting some pieces together again and prepare the best we can for qualifying.”

In Free Practice 2, seventh to 16th were covered by less than one second – and with his team mate Fernando Alonso in the mix with P12 in the session, Vandoorne dared to hope that escaping from Q1 for the first time since Canada back in early June might be on the cards in Hungary.

“It is very tight,” he said. “I think the target for us is to be as close to possible to the top 10. I don't know for us if being in Q3 is a good thing with the tyres, the ultrasofts, so being as close as possible would be ideal.”

Perhaps understandable given that we’re slap-bang in the middle of 'silly season', Vandoorne’s tough run of form recently – the last time he scored a point was in Azerbaijan – has gone hand-in-hand with discussions about his future with McLaren and the likelihood of him retaining his seat.

A decent result in Hungary to carry him through the summer break would therefore be the perfect tonic – but for now, it seems the Belgian is just happy to have found a solid base from which to start rebuilding his season.

“It's nice just to have a normal weekend,” he said, “get into the weekend and finally start working again and not just completely look after problems all the time. So, happy how today went and looking forward to progress a bit tomorrow.”

WATCH: Vandoorne survives high-speed spin in FP2

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