Daniel Ricciardo dominated all weekend. In every practice session, he was the man topping the charts in his Red Bull, the car that seemed to be too quick for Ferrari and Mercedes as Formula One took to the streets of the 76th Monaco Grand Prix. In qualifying, the Australian was the only one to set a lap time under 1min11seconds, two-tenths of a second faster than Sebastian Vettel’s best effort. This circuit was always a strong one for Daniel but he had never quite managed to claim the win, his best chance in 2016 ruined by a last-minute pit-stop when the crew didn’t have the tyres ready for him, giving the victory away to Nico Rosberg. But this year, he was determined to claim his dues, with one of my favourite quotes from the weekend after he qualified on pole position: “50% done. I’ll finish this shit tomorrow.” And boy did he.
He had a fantastic start and stayed ahead of the Ferrari, while the rest of the pack got around Turn 1 without any incidents, a rare occurrence at Monaco. One guess is that the chaos from Baku earlier in the season has imprinted some patience into the drivers. Barely twenty laps into the race with a considerable lead in front, Ricciardo’s MGU-K (battery power for the hybrid engine) stopped working. He was down on power by about 25% or 160bhp but there was still a chance as he had already made his pitstop by then. Vettel in second, on the same UltraSoft compound after pitstops, was nursing his tyres by the time he caught up to Daniel. The German kept the pressure on the injured Bull but made no threatening moves while Lewis Hamilton had settled into a cosy P3, also struggling with his set of UltraSoft tyres. Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas were P4 and P5 respectively, being close in the final stages of the race but no overtake attempts were made.
Another fantastic weekend for Toro Rosso and Pierre Gasly with a top ten finish, while both the Renault cars earned points too. Max Verstappen had a crash in final practice, one that mirrored his 2016 incident on the Monaco streets and was unable to participate in qualifying. Starting from the last spot on the grid, he was running the more durable compound from the beginning and did show some class overtakes even on such a tight circuit. Things got a bit murky when he caught up with the faster cars though and was told to drive clean after a scrape with Sainz in the final laps. An impressive finish nonetheless that earned him and the team much-needed points. Fernando Alonso seemed poised for continuing his streak of finishing in the points with the Renault-powered McLaren but suffered a gearbox failure in the last ten laps.
Many were of the opinion that it was one of the dullest Monaco Grand Prix of recent years as there was one lonely incident that brought on the safety car, apart from which the race was more of a procession. The incident in question involved Alfa Romeo Sauber’s Charles Leclerc whose brakes failed at the end of the long tunnel curve and he drove into the back of Brendon Hartley, ending the race for both of them. Definitely not the result the young racer was expecting on his first F1 race on his home circuit. It was a disastrous race for the Williams team with both cars suffering multiple punctures over the course of the race while the Haas cars simply had no pace around the streets of Monaco. Force India made a bit of a recovery with Esteban Ocon delivering an excellent performance in qualifying as well as during the race while his teammate Sergio Perez had a much slower weekend overall.
Almost all drivers who haven’t yet had serious incidents will be using new engines in Canada next, their second of three units allowed for the season (without incurring grid penalties), it’ll be interesting to see if Ferrari and Vettel can catch Mercedes and Hamilton yet again.
Final Race Standings:
- D. Ricciardo Aston Martin Red Bull Racing – 1:42:54.807
- S. Vettel Ferrari +7.336
- L. Hamilton Mercedes +17.013
- K. Raikkonen Ferrari +18.127
- V. Bottas Mercedes +18.822
- E. Ocon Force India Mercedes +23.667
- P. Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda +24.331
- N. Hulkenberg Renault +24.839
- M. Verstappen Aston Martin Red Bull Racing +25.317
- C. Sainz Renault +69.013
- M. Ericcson Alfa Romeo Sauber Ferrari +69.864
- S. Perez Force India Mercedes +70.461
- K. Magnussen Haas Ferrari +74.823
- S. Vandoorne McLaren Renault +1 Lap
- R. Grosjean Haas Ferrari +1 Lap
- S. Sirotkin Williams Racing Mercedes +1 Lap
- L. Stroll Williams Racing Mercedes +2 Laps
- C. Leclerc Alfa Romeo Sauber Ferrari DNF
- B. Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda DNF
- F. Alsono McLaren Renault DNF