McLaren Honda driver Stoffel Vandoorne made an epic start from 19th on the grid, (after taking engine related penalties) and was up to 13th by the end of lap one. By lap five, Stoffel was up to 10th position where he continued to fight firm battle before coming up behind the Sauber of [Marcus] Ericsson for some laps, unable to get close enough in the corners to make a move after the straight.
On lap 18, Fernando overtook Stoffel to give him the opportunity to attempt a pass, but he too struggled to make headway on what is notoriously a difficult track on which to overtake.
Following [Brendon] Hartley's retirement on lap 30, a miscommunication in the pits due to the late deployment of the VSC meant Stoffel was called late into the box and his pitstop was delayed, causing him to lose over five seconds in the stop and ultimately a position on track to [Felipe] Massa.
He dropped down to 11th and then later 12th on lap 52, after a short-lived battle with a championship-fighting [Lewis] Hamilton.
Despite a long and close fight with Massa over the closing 15 laps of the race, Stoffel was unable to capitalise on his strong pace and make a move stick, and he finished the race in 12th position.
“We had an amazing start – we were 13th after the first lap – but we've seen how much we are missing in a straight line. We couldn't even keep a Sauber behind and we couldn't really overtake after that, so we lost ground. But our pace in clean air was very positive, the car felt very good, and starting from the back we knew it was always going to be tough for us.
“The end of the race got very exciting with a few cars coming close together, but it still shows that our straight-line speed is not good enough. It was a difficult race for us – there were definitely points on the cards, but we were just too compromised because of our speed and losing time in the pitstop with the late VSC call. "
"The positives we can take away are that our pace was really strong and we made it to the end, but our deficit on the straights is still too big. Massive congratulations to Lewis [Hamilton] – it's a great achievement and it was a strong fight from him this season.”