His teammate Fernando Alonso joked in China that his surprisingly strong performance in both qualifying and the race was with “divine” involvement, due to the extreme lack of power from the Japanese-made power unit.
Belgian Vandoorne concurs: “The car feels pretty good.
“When I was behind the Williams of Massa, I even commented that I was faster in every corner,” he told the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws.
But the rookie said there was no way he could have thought about passing the Williams.
“Attack? Our top speed on the straights is too low for racing. It’s impossible for us.
“At the start of the straight you look in the mirror and by the end a car is next to you. We urgently require more power,” Vandoorne insisted.
“Even with DRS open we can’t pass anybody.”
The only bright spot for McLaren-Honda is the performance shown in Australia and China by Alonso in the sister car, amid speculation the Spaniard is angling for a switch to a faster team for 2018.
But Vandoorne said after Shanghai: “The engineers said our potential laptimes were similar, but the difference was the groups we were in. Up front, the pace is higher but further back, where I was, you lose time because there are more slow cars.”
And he insisted Alonso’s pace is not McLaren’s only positive anyway.
“The feeling with the car is pretty good,” he said, “the updates seem to work, the chassis is moving in the right direction — we just lack speed on the straights.”
And Vandoorne said that is not likely to change for Bahrain, either.
“It’s the second race of the year, we know it’s not easy with our car now but we try the best we can and there will be improvements soon,” he said.
“But it will probably not be for Bahrain — I think it’s going to be a bit of a difficult weekend for us again.”