The opening lap of today’s Mexican Grand Prix dealt a devastating blow to Pascal and the team, in the wake of yesterday’s fantastic Q2 qualifying performance. His race was over almost before it had begun, after he was hit from behind by Esteban Gutierrez. ‘Our’ Esteban drove a doggedly determined race, persevering with a car he’s been unhappy with all weekend, to bring one MRT05 to the chequered flag. “We’ll be back” for Brazil.
The Race, Formula 1 Gran Premio de México 2016
Sunday 30 October
Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Mexico City
Esteban MRT05-02 P21 1:24.964
Pascal MRT05-01 DNF 0 laps
Esteban, tough race for you, at the end of a challenging weekend.
“Yes, Mexico won’t go down as one of my favourite races of the season so far, which is a shame, because it’s a great track and an amazing Formula 1 venue. Actually today was not as bad as the rest of the weekend by comparison, but we never really did overcome the problems we have experienced with the way my car was handling. In the end, I was just glad we made it to the finish.”
7 races down, 2 to go. How will you approach the remaining races of your debut season?
“I hope the problems of the weekend were specific to this event. With a bit more investigation I’m sure we can understand them a little better and things will be back to normal for Brazil. This was a tense race for the team. There was nothing more I could have done today, especially as 20 other cars finished the race, so we need to make sure that in the next two races we’re in a more stable position and better placed to create or respond to opportunities.”
Pascal, clearly a heart-breaking end to your race today, after such a fantastic weekend, especially that qualifying performance.
“I couldn’t believe it. It was heart-breaking, yes. We had a chance at a really strong race today and for that opportunity to be ripped away before we’d even begun was difficult to take. I got a great start, gained two places and I was up to 14th - then it was over.”
Tell us what happened?
“I was in front and when I turned in, Gutierrez hit me from behind. That’s it. The impact launched me into the air and that pushed me into Marcus Ericsson. My suspension was broken and my race was over. I was on the outside, leaving a lot of space and that is a left and right chicane. I don’t understand why you would risk so much there when it’s such a long race.”
Small comfort, but it’s been an incredible weekend for you, with so many positives?
“Yes, it’s not the end to the weekend we deserved, but there are only good things to say about practice, qualifying and the way the team has performed here. We need to keep working at this level because from where I ended up watching the race, it made for very uncomfortable viewing. We have to do everything possible to secure our championship position and ensure that our result in Austria counts.”
A word with Dave Ryan, Racing Director:
“Phew - talk about stress! We had 100 minutes of it on the pit wall this afternoon, starting with Pascal being punted out on the opening lap. Then we had to endure Ericsson’s Sauber hovering just outside the points towards the last quarter of the race, while ahead of him several cars were getting very intimate with each other. There was every possibility of an incident of some sort elevating him into the points, but that’s racing and that’s what we’re here for!
“For Pascal, a very disappointing end to what had been a brilliant weekend and I’m sure that without the incident he would have had a very strong race. Esteban on the other hand has endured a difficult weekend and leading into the race we still hadn’t managed to solve the handling issues he was suffering from. From that starting point he drove a creditable race and I’m absolutely sure we will be back on top of things for the penultimate race in Sao Paulo in two weeks’ time.”