A double points finish might be great news for any team, and it was too for McLaren when their cars crossed the finish line in 7th and 8th positions at the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix. The story of the team's weekend was however slightly more complicated.
For the second race in a row, McLaren Renault's cars finished both in the points, partly thanks to some retirements ahead, but also thanks to a fairly strong race pace, which in Fernando Alonso's case seemed very much on par with the factory Renault of Nico Hulkenberg, whom he trailed for most of the race.
The weekend kicked off reasonably well too, with no clouds on Friday, but when Saturday's qualifying arrived, the team quickly realised they were uncompetitive, lacking the single lap performance they had expected. Neither driver came even close to Q3, immediately triggering Eric Boullier to demand a thorough investigation into the reasons how this was possible.
"There is need for a big investigation," said Boullier. "We need to find out what is going on.
"We need to find out why and I am going to ask some questions to the factory. I'm astonished like all of us on the pit wall. We need to understand what happened."
Boullier was later absent from McLaren's media summit as he attended an extended engineering debrief.
Alonso admitted it was a bad performance, but already voiced his hopes that the race could and would be better thanks to their better race pace, which was also obvious at the Australian Grand Prix two weeks earlier.
And so it turned out to be, with both drivers leaving the circuit happy and with more points in their bags, even after Vandoorne had a dismal start that put him dead last when he arrived at Turn 1.
“After the start of the race I didn’t think this result would be possible today!", said Vandoorne.
"I had a terrible start, a lot of wheel-spin off the line and found myself sitting there in absolute last after Turn One. From there we made a great recovery, and to finish eighth and have both cars in the points again is very pleasing.
“We always knew our race pace was going to be better than our qualifying pace and today we proved that again. We overtook a lot of cars on track and made some very bold overtaking moves into Turn One. For me it was an amazing race and I enjoyed some great fighting, so I’m pretty happy".
During his recovery drive, Vandoorne made no less than 11 on-track overtakes.
Fernando Alonso on his behalf said the outcome was positive, but the team should now forget the problems earlier on in the weekend.
“Looking at the overall picture of the weekend, we struggled in every session and had quite a poor qualifying, so now being seventh and eighth is a positive result for the team.", Alonso said.
“Having 16 points after two races is promising, but at the same time we know that this weekend was not good enough in terms of performance, so we need to raise our game. We just cannot underperform again.
"We know that we have the potential, and that the car has some good things and bad things which we need to make sure we improve as soon as possible. New parts are coming, but whatever we have on the car on Sunday we’re sure we’ll deliver and push to the limits, and today was another good example.”