Daniel Ricciardo has won the 2018 Monaco F1 Grand Prix. In a race that other drivers described as boring, the Perth born Red Bull driver battled an ailing car and closing traffic to win by a still impressive 7.33 seconds.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was second and a full ten seconds ahead of third placed Lewis Hamilton. Ricciardo’s team mate Max Verstappen also impressed with his climb through the field from the rear of grid to finish ninth.
The race win for the dogged Ricciardo comes as the Red Bull team celebrates 250 races. The team also won their 100th and 150th races. Of the win, Ricciardo said: “Two years in the making this, so I finally feel like the redemption has arrived. We had problems… we had a lot to deal with during the race. I think it was before halfway, I felt a loss of power and I thought the race was done, and we got home just using six gears. Thanks to the team, we got it back so I’m stoked.”
Although Hamilton and Alonso (who did not finish after an engine failure on lap 53) said the race was boring it also was not without some drama. In scenes not unlike Baku’s F1 race, New Zealander Brendon Hartley was taken out just after the tunnel exit after a left front disc failure in home town hopeful Charles LeClerc had his Sauber car ram into Hartley’s Toro Rosso.
A clearly dejected LeClerc could do nothing but apologise after telling the team his brake pedal had been “going long” in the few laps before the impact. Hartley himself, running in 11th, was philosophical after speaking with a despondent LeClerc, saying: “It’s pretty frustrating, but that’s Monaco. We were strong all weekend apart from Q1, where we didn’t get it all together. I was happy with how I was driving today but ultimately it wasn’t meant to be.”
Ricciardo lead the field from the start, with his hypersoft tires holding on well enough. Mercedes decided to gamble early, bringing in Hamilton and changing to ultrasoft rubber in an attempt to give him longevity. Suddenly it was a flurry of pitstops, with first Vettel, then Ricciardo, with the Red Bull team timing it to perfection.
Ricciardo came out from his stop still in first but suddenly had Vettel looming up in his mirrors. Ricciardo had told the team the car felt like it had lost power. The team verified it was a gearbox issue but somehow, on the tight streets of Monte Carlo, with Ricciardo driving for the first win of his career from his first pole position, the car held together to get him across the line.
Vettel said later: “Obviously if you get closer it doesn’t help with your tires. In some corners you don’t really need power and Ricciardo was quicker than us. He was always able to open the gap and I was never really there. He could keep his pace and I think that perhaps it could have been worse for us if he hadn’t had some issues.”
Daniel Ricciardo is now the third Australian to win on the Monte Carlo streets, after Sir Jack Brabham in 1959 and Mark Webber, a dual winner in 2010 and 2012. The win catapults him to third on 72 points, with Hamilton on 110 and Vettel with 96.
The next race is on June 10 for the Canadian F1 Grand Prix.