Eric Boullier still believes McLaren has the third-best chassis in Formula 1 – but only on certain circuits.
McLaren’s racing director said earlier this month that the team had a shot at outpacing Ferrari in Monaco due to a superior chassis. In qualifying, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were fourth and sixth quickest respectively with Fernando Alonso 10th and Jenson Button 13th.
When asked if he still believed the chassis is where he thought it was in the pecking order, just behind Red Bull and Mercedes, Boullier said: “It’s a good question. If you look at the public data, the GPS traces, yes we are.
“This weekend we are struggling to switch the tyres on and that has cost us a lot, in the driver’s confidence or ability to drive the car to the limit. So we can’t exploit the car. But in some of the tracks, yes definitely [McLaren has the third-best chassis].”
Alonso admitted to mixed feelings about making Q3 again, complaining of tire problems and a lack of confidence in the car.
“Tires were quite a big issue for us, this weekend we have not been switching them on properly,” he said. “That is quite a big thing for qualifying performance. I have mixed feelings as I’m happy to be again in Q3.
“At the same time, we were expecting more in terms of feeling with the car. It has been a difficult weekend in terms of feeling with the car and having confidence to attack the corners, which was missing in all the sessions and it was no different in qualifying. From that side, I’m disappointed but it is the way it is. There is nothing we can do now.”
Button added: “In Q2, I just didn’t have very good balance, I locked up in Turn 3 [Massenet] over the hill and I never got the tyre back.
“We feel the weaknesses in balance. We’ve had the car in a reasonable place all weekend but we’re playing with something which isn’t as good as a Red Bull. We’re struggling a lot with understeer, especially in low speed corners. If you try and work with the set-up and you improve the set-up in one area, you take away from another.”