Monaco is a standout on the Formula 1 calendar: the jewel in the crown, with the tight and twisty circuit rewarding precision and confidence …
And there, Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo had the drive of his life, winning in Monte Carlo for the first time, despite having to nurse his RB14 for 50 laps under pressure from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
At lights out, Ricciardo led into Turn 1 followed by Vettel, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, and Valtteri Bottas.
Up front, Ricciardo, Vettel and Hamilton traded fastest laps – with the Red Bull driver pulling out a slim 1.6-second lead by Lap 11.
Hamilton was the first to stop, switching to the ultrasofts on Lap 12 – after which Ricciardo upped his pace to protect against a Vettel undercut.
Vettel pitted on Lap 16 for a set of the ultrasofts, dropping back to third before teammate Raikkonen pitted, while Ricciardo stopped on the next lap, and retained his lead, the top three unchanged from the grid.
By Lap 25, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was in 10th – having started at the back of the grid, following a crash in final practice.
3 laps later, Ricciardo’s MGU-K failed and he quickly began to slip into the grasp of Vettel. But the German was increasingly suffering – with his front ultrasoft tyres graining. Hamilton as well.
On Lap 53, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso retired at Turn 1 with a gearbox issue, letting Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly through for seventh.
On Lap 72, brake failure for Sauber’s Charles Leclerc forced a dramatic crash as he speared into Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley - which brought out the Virtual Safety Car for two laps.
At the restart, Vettel struggled to get his tyres up to temperature – effectively handing Ricciardo the win, the Australian elated after he came so close in 2016, when a botched pit stop cost him a certain victory.
SOUNDBITE: (English) DANIEL RICCIARDO,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“It was a stressful race, so at the time it didn’t feel particularly sweet. But crossing the line felt amazing. And redemption, that’s what I really feel. It’s 2-years in the making.”