After capturing the essence of the whole weekend, Daniel Ricciardo won the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix, claiming the first win of his career from pole position. The Australian becomes the third driver from his country to win in Monte Carlo after Jack Brabham in 1959, and Mark Webber in 2012. Finishing behind the Red Bull Racing driver were Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in second place and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in third place.
Leading from the start and keeping his cool through the tight and tricky street circuit, Ricciardo controlled the race for 78 laps in a wounded Red Bull Racing car, which was troubled with power and battery issues. For Ricciardo, this win is like a redemption from 2016, where he had claimed pole position but lost the race due to no fault of his own. Speaking after the race he said ‘This feels like redemption for two years ago. I can finally put 2016 behind me.’
The Ferraris and Mercedes played their own cat and mouse game, and were prepared not to win this weekend, but make the best of it with what they had. While Vettel and Hamilton battled it for second place, the two Finns Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas battled it for fourth place, with the Ferraris prevailing in both battles. At Monaco, with overtaking being close to impossible, it is critical to have a proper qualifying session, as that is half the battle won, therefore grid position determined most of the outcome in the race aided with effective tyre strategies.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon who finished in sixth place, the same as where he started. The Frenchman was followed by Pierre Gasly who started 10th but finished seventh, and Nico Hulkenberg, who started 11th and finished eighth.
Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen who started 20th from the back of the grid end up finishing the race after some risky overtakes while battling the two Renault’s of Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz.
Around lap 53, Hulkenberg who was running sixth pit for a fresh set of hyper-soft tyres, and dropped down to tenth, with his team-mate Sainz ahead of him. Verstappen who had pit slightly earlier to fresher tyres had dropped down to 11th at a place behind him. While the three were within DRS range of each other, Renault asked Sainz to let his team-mate pass, and block Verstappen, which the Spaniard executed smoothly at lap 55.
In the next few laps Sainz himself became a target to Verstappen, where the Dutch two moves on him, with the second one involving cutting the chicane. With Sainz tyres being old, the Spaniard tried fighting back for his position, but eventually had to settle for a tenth-place finish.
Overall the race did not have many incidents, apart from a crash between Charles Leclerc and Brendon Hartley. The Monegasque driver failed to complete his home race when he crashed into the rear of Toro Rosso at the Nouvelle chicane, in a desperate attempt to overtake which was blocked by some late-braking by Hartley.
The result of the clash was a high impact contact that caused severe damage to both cars, causing retirements for both. Contrary to what most expected, the incident only lead to a Virtual Safety Car at lap 68 instead of a Safety Car period, which was anticipated by some so that they could change tyres. The teams were almost ready with their mechanics out, if such a situation had to arise.
Apart from Hartley and Leclerc, the other retirement was that of Fernando Alonso who was running sixth in the race and had to pull out of the race, due to a gearbox failure. At a race were McLaren were optimistic of collecting a handful of points, this result was a disappointment. The Spaniard’s team-mate, Stoffel Vandoorne did not manage to finish in the points either and was lapped by Ricciardo and finished 14th.
Ricciardo’s race win is a boost for him and the team, but ideally it was a weekend Mercedes and Ferrari were ready to throw away, witnessing Red Bull Racing’s strong form all weekend long. So, after the current lead the gap between Hamilton and Vettel is reduced to three points in the Drivers’ standings. In the Constructor’s Mercedes currently lead Ferrari by 22 points.
The next race will be the Canadian Grand Prix held at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal, on the weekend spanning from June 8-10, 2018.