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McLaren F1 team admits its Spanish GP strategy hurt Fernando Alonso

Alonso off Spanish GP 2017

The McLaren Formula 1 team hurt Fernando Alonso's chances of salvaging a result from the Spanish Grand Prix with unsuccessful strategy calls, admits technology group chief operating officer Jonathan Neale.

Alonso's shock seventh place on the grid did not translate into a points finish as he was edged off track by Felipe Massa at the first corner and could only recover to 12th.

That was despite three of the cars that qualified ahead of him retiring.

Rejoining 11th after the brush with Massa, Alonso was initially catching the two Haas cars and Carlos Sainz Jr's Toro Rosso, but then got trapped behind the out-of-sequence Daniil Kvyat after his first pitstop.

"Fernando had pace, he was quicker than the cars in front, but he couldn't use it," Neale told Autosport.

"The strategy team made the decision to try the undercut.

"I understand that, but the problem with looking at race traces, when you can see the whole thing after it happened, it's very much easier to say, 'Well if I'd known that...'

"But at the time, that was the call.

"Then he got caught behind Kvyat. He had three or maybe four goes at him, but he couldn't get by.

"I think the answer is we just didn't have the straightline speed.

"Fernando could gain down the straight, get him into DRS contact, but then we're so far down the straight you have to back off again. Kvyat was too fast for us."

Vandoorne off Spanish GP 2017

McLaren was caught out when Alonso made his second stop just before the virtual safety car caused by his own team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne hitting Massa, which benefited some of his rivals.

"We then pitted Fernando to get him on a different tyre to get him out of that frustration, at which point we caused the safety car [with Vandoorne], at which point we lost more time," said Neale.

Vandoorne received a three-place grid penalty for the Monaco GP as a punishment for the Massa clash, which ended his race.

Neale was frustrated about the officials' decision.

"Stoffel didn't see Massa, the closing speed down the straight was just huge," he said.

"I think it was a racing incident.

"The FIA awarded a three-place penalty for Monaco, which is unfortunate. I would have liked to think that because Massa's race wasn't affected and Stoffel's was, that that was pain enough.

"But if the rules were meticulous, rational, standardised and predictable, a robot would do it, and it wouldn't be half as much fun talking about it in the press afterwards and moaning about the referee's decision!

"So we'll take our medicine, and move on."

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