Ricciardo ends Monaco hoodoo despite mechanical issue
Daniel Ricciardo overcame a mechanical problem to hold off Sebastian Vettel and win the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time in his career amid late drama on Sunday.
Red Bull driver Ricciardo suffered an issue that led to an irreparable loss of power on lap 28, but he showed incredible skill and grit to hang on for the top step on the podium, despite a virtual safety car being deployed with six laps remaining after Charles Leclerc smashed into the back of Brendon Hartley.
Vettel backed off after initially pushing for an overtake and he was unable to succeed on deteriorated tyres later in the race, settling for second to cut Lewis Hamilton’s championship lead to 14 points – the Mercedes driver finishing in third.
A botched pit-stop denied Ricciardo a win in the principality in 2016, while a poorly judged release during qualifying scuppered his shot at pole position last year.
It looked like nothing could stop him this time around, though, as he produced the fastest time in all three practices sessions and qualified first with a track record time, as Mercedes and Ferrari seemingly resigned themselves to being beaten this weekend.
Red Bull reacted brilliantly to Vettel’s first stop by getting Ricciardo in for fresh tyres and back out in first place at the start of lap 17, only for a loss of power in the RB14 threw a spanner in the works.
But the Australian was able to manage his ultrasoft compound until the end of the race, despite Vettel, Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas closing – the gap from first to fifth was less than six seconds as the race entered its final third.
VIRTUAL SAFETY CAR (LAP 72/78)
Home hero Leclerc slams into the back of Hartley, and both are out!
LEC: “Brakes went completely off”#MonacoGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/OjvOQ4JrUa
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 27, 2018
A virtual safety car threatened to undo all of Ricciardo’s hard work, but it was withdrawn with four laps remaining and the Red Bull driver quickly opened a five-second gap over Vettel after the restart to put himself firmly in the championship frame.
His Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen produced a similarly mature drive to cap a hugely positive day for the Austrian outfit. After a crash late in FP3 caused gearbox damage that ruled the 20-year-old out of qualifying, he worked his way up to ninth from the back of the grid.
RESILIENT RICCIARDO GETS REDEMPTION
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner confirmed after Ricciardo built a strong lead following the withdrawal of the virtual safety car that he had been driving without his MGU-K for almost two thirds of the race.
According to Horner that meant he was two seconds off the pace per lap, and Ricciardo was relieved after taking the chequered flag.
Over team radio he simply said: “Redemption.”
RIC: “I felt a loss of power and I thought the race was done… this was two years in the making, I finally feel like this is redemption!” #MonacoGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/iWTXVmiluv
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 27, 2018
Hamilton was put on the ultrasoft compound following his pit-stop at the end of lap 11, a decision he grumbled about for the remainder of the race.
“I told you about this tyre,” Hamilton said over team radio, clearly frustrated with the deterioration.
The championship leader was able to negotiate his way to the end of the race, but he never looked like closing in on Vettel and Ricciardo.
Vettel was also left to rue the state of his tyres when, having appeared to back off and preserve them for a late push, he had nothing left to give in the final stages.
A hard-fought podium for @LewisHamilton with @ValtteriBottas P5 – even by #MonacoGP standards, that was a tough one! Well played boys! #F1 pic.twitter.com/9NraHJ3xsb
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) May 27, 2018
It was a miserable day for Williams.
Sergey Sirotkin was issued a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for not having his tyres fitted in time for the race, meaning he surrendered a position to Verstappen.
Lance Stroll was soon passed by the Dutchman as a front-left puncture sustained by running into the back of Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber forced him into the pits, meaning the duo sat at the back of the field and were unable to recover.
IN THE POINTS
1. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari): +7.336s
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): +17.013s
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari): +18.127s
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes): +18.822s
6. Esteban Ocon (Force India): +23.667s
7. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso): +24.331s
8. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault): +24.839s
9. Max Verstappen (Red Bull): +25.317s
10. Carlos Sainz (Renault): +69.013s
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): 110
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari): 96
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull): 72
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes): 68
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari): 60
1. Mercedes 178
2. Ferrari 156
3. Red Bull 107
4. Renault 46
5. McLaren 40
From one short, tight circuit to another. F1 will cross the Atlantic Ocean for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on June 10.