Ricciardo holds nerve to win Monaco GP despite power loss
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo steadied his nerve when victory threatened to escape him again as he overcame a significant midrace power loss to win the Monaco Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday.
After guzzling champagne from his sweaty shoe — as he likes to do — it was time to cool off. The popular Australian swan-dived into the swimming pool located on the roof of Red Bull’s motorhome in Monaco’s glitzy harbor.
Better known for his attacking prowess and razor-sharp overtaking, Ricciardo had earlier shown outstanding defensive driving to fend off Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari despite losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.
Vettel closed to within one second of Ricciardo with more than half of the 78-lap race left. It seemed certain the German would pass him at some point, but Ricciardo held firm for the seventh win of his career.
Even though the 3.34-kilometer (2.1-mile) street circuit is narrow and notoriously difficult to overtake on, it was still a remarkable drive by Ricciardo, given his damaging power deficit.
“So much went on for me in that race, trying to figure out what was going on,” said Ricciardo, who was fastest in all three practice sessions as well as qualifying. “This was probably the best weekend of my career.”
Vettel shaved a few points off championship leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, who finished third.
“I think we had the pace,” Vettel said after missing out on a 50th career win. “But Daniel had the answers all the time.”
Hamilton made an audacious move by pitting for new tires several laps before his rivals, but was worried they would wear out by the end.
“It would have been nice to have come second but I did all I could,” Hamilton said.
In the end, Ricciardo’s winning margin was seven seconds — but only because Vettel lost time after the virtual safety car came out for the last few laps. The incident happened when Charles Leclerc shunted his Sauber into the back of Brendon Hartley’s Toro Rosso. Drivers are not allowed to overtake when the VSC is deployed and must maintain a steady speed. It happened too late to influence the race.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth for Ferrari, ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Force India’s Esteban Ocon.
Max Verstappen — Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate — finished ninth after starting from last having crashed prior to Saturday’s qualifying.
A strong drive from Verstappen, gaining 11 positions, but the day belonged to Ricciardo.
It was his second win of the season after the Chinese GP last month, pushing him up to third in the title race.