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Monaco GP 2018

MAY 28, 2018

Race Analysis - Apollo 13

Daniel Ricciardo, Monaco GP 2018
© The Cahier Archive

By Dan Knutson in Monaco

"He could have been in Apollo 13," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said of Daniel Ricciardo after he worked through a series of problems and went on to win the Monaco Grand Prix. "I tell you, with the way he was dealing with the issues today. It was an incredible performance from him and just extremely mature. I'm super happy for him and he really deserved it this weekend."

Here's what led up to that victory.


Winning the pole at Monaco is 50 percent of the way to winning the race, Ricciardo said after he won the pole.


Sebastian Vettel put his Ferrari second on the grid. Lewis Hamilton lined up third in his Mercedes. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) rounded out the top five.


The Red Bull was the fastest car around the Monaco streets. Max Verstappen, therefore, could have been a contender. But he crashed in the third practice session, was unable to qualify, and started the race from the back of the grid. Ricciardo's main challenger was gone.


"I'll just pass Daniel into the first corner," Vettel quipped of the start. It would have been one of the few chances to grab the lead, but he could not pull it off.


The running order in the early laps of the race was the same as the qualifying order: Ricciardo, Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Bottas and Esteban Ocon (Force India). All were on Pirelli's new hyper soft slicks.


It is so difficult to pass in Monaco, so the usual stalemate set in.


Could some strategy maneuvers break up the status quo? It was looking like it was going to be on one-stop race, so that did not help matters on that front.


Hamilton was the first of the front runners to pit, coming in at the end of lap 12 for the ultra soft compound Pirellis. Vettel stopped after 16 laps, and Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Bottas pitted a lap later. All took on the ultra soft tires except Bottas who got a set of the super soft slicks.


After the stops the order was once again Ricciardo, Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Bottas.


It turned out that the super soft tire was a better choice than the ultra as the latter lost grip and started graining. The top four were in for a long afternoon trying to save their tires.


Bottas, on the super softs, now played the waiting game. If the front four had to pit, he was close enough to sweep into the lead. As it turned out, he waited in vain as the front four nursed their tires to the end of the 78-lap race.


Ricciardo was controlling the race from the front, but then problems struck his Red Bull on lap 28.

"The start went well and I was like I've pretty much done the hard part let's just finish this race," he said. "Then lap 28 or something I exited one corner and I just felt pretty much no power compared to what I am used to. I wanted to close my eyes and start crying because I thought that was it, that my race was over."

It was a problem with the MGU-K, and the engine was now down 25 percent on power.


"I only used six gears for the rest of the race," Ricciardo said. "We got eight in a Formula 1 car so that's kind of an example of how down on power we were. We don't all use eighth here, it's a short track, but we were still down a lot. I was just managing the tires a lot. At the end I was pushing a bit more but it was still costing me, I don't know, I would say over a second, definitely over a second a lap."


"The rear brakes get hot, because of the K that failed," Ricciardo said, "so the rear brakes got really hot we had to go seven percent forwards with the brakes. For example, maybe we change it one or two percent during a whole race so to go seven percent is a lot. A lot of things to manage but we did it."


"It's difficult to describe the performance Daniel put in today," said Red Bull boss Christian Horner. "From lap 28 when the MGU-K expired, which creates all kinds of issues with cooling, with brake and tire temperatures, he managed it in the calmest of manners while defending with Sebastian Vettel no more than a second behind him, and I never believed with approximately a 25 percent loss of power that he would hold the lead for another 50 laps and win our 250th grand prix start."


Vettel kept the pressure on Ricciardo until nearly the end of the race.

"We had the pace," Vettel said. "It was a tricky race. Daniel had the answers at all times. He was a bit stronger, we couldn't follow, and I was going through the tires a bit quicker."


Hamilton did not have any fun on his way to third place in what he called a boring race, but he saw some bright spots to the race.

"We were the third quickest team and we almost got second," he said. "I'm grateful to only have lost three points to Sebastian in the championship fight - I'll take that and move forwards. It wasn't a really difficult race, we just had to take the tires go a long way; I didn't think they were going to go as far as they did."


"So much went on for me in that race, trying to figure out what was going on," said Ricciardo after his second win of the season. "This was probably the best weekend of my career."