The McLaren team exited the Singapore Grand Prix with a solitary point and the loss of fifth place to Force India in its season-long Constructors’ Championship battle, with the result coming off the back of a brave recovery drive by Kevin Magnussen.
The Danish rookie survived his first ever outing at the Marina Bay Circuit with minor burns to his lower back after his cockpit overheated during the race’s lengthy Safety Car interruption. Added to that, the contents of his drinks bottle overheated in the conditions, which gave him a burnt mouth when he tried to top up his fluids.
Despite his discomfort, Magnussen put on a charge after a late pit stop and clawed his way back to finish tenth.
“It was a very, very tough Grand Prix,” he said afterwards, nursing his sore backside on a heavily iced towel.
“During the race, I don’t know if there was something wrong with the car, but my seat started getting very hot, which made things extremely uncomfortable for me. Without that, I think we could have done better than tenth, but at least we got that one point. It’s better than nothing.
“It was the hardest point I’ve ever earned.”
The Woking outfit should have walked away with more points. Jenson Button was running seventh behind Valtteri Bottas until the final ten laps when his MP4-29 suffered a battery failure and he had to park his car.
“I was cueing things up for the end of the grand prix: I’d been looking after the tyres for the whole stint, and I knew the last five laps were when things were going to get tricky for Valtteri ahead of me,” he said after the race.
“I’d just switched the car into a different mode, and the chase was starting to get quite exciting. Then, a few corners later, the car just died going into the hairpin. Going across the bridge, it just turned off, so I had to stop.
“I’d been really looking forward to the end of the race, because I definitely think I’d have got past Valtteri. But it just didn’t work out – I was pretty unlucky.”
Those were sentiments echoed by McLaren Race Director, Eric Boullier: “To score just a single world championship point, after two hours’ toil in intense heat and humidity, is of course extremely disappointing for the entire team.
“For Jenson, who was driving exceptionally well in seventh place, cleverly optimising a tricky two-stop strategy, to be forced to retire with power box failure was an especially bitter blow.
“For Kevin, who had driven such an excellent qualifying lap here yesterday, this afternoon was gruelling; there’s no other word. In the end, after an impressively plucky drive in extremely challenging conditions, he was able to score a single point for the team. It was scant consolation, of course it was, but it’s indicative of his tremendous fighting spirit, and I commend him for it.”
Images via McLaren F1 Media