By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
Daniel Ricciardo set the pole of the year when he beat the Mercedes duo by over 2/10th’s with an incredible lap around Monte Carlo. He started the race behind the safety car and when it pulled in on lap 10 and the reigns were off, he built up an lead that at times exceeded 13 seconds!
Despite chaotic early running which saw numerous accidents, virtual safety car and actual safety car periods, Ricciardo kept his cool and comfortably kept the Mercedes at arms length. On lap 23 Ricciardo finally went in for intermediates, his Red Bull racing crew gave him a perfect stop and he retained the lead.
With a huge dry line and everyone ditching the wets, Danny jumped for the pits again just a few laps later, ready for another perfect stop from his crew so he could head out on the super softs and claim a well deserved victory.
But it never came…Red Bull was completely and utterly unprepared for Ricciardo’s stop as they sloppily rushed his tires out long after the RB-12 had come to a stop.
The fiasco allowed Lewis Hamilton into the lead and had Ricciardo playing catch up for the remainder of the race. Ricciardo quickly closed the gap and looked set to resume the lead when Hamilton overshot the Nouvelle chicane on lap 37. Ricciardo went to the outside, ready to pull alongside the Mercedes and take the lead heading towards the swimming pool, when Hamilton deliberately and aggressively shut the door; pinching Ricciardo who had to take evasive action to first keep out of Hamilton and then the wall.
What the **** was that?! – Daniel Ricciardo
The stewards investigated but announced that no further action was warranted, as they let Hamilton off with a warning.
Ricciardo resumed chase and spent the following laps no more than two seconds behind the silver arrow. He closed that gap down to 1.3 seconds on lap 68, but an unexpected virtual safety car struck when a marshal went on track to remove a tarp that had blown onto the racing line. The VSC was so unexpected and so brief, a mere 30 to 40 seconds that the gap was not maintained and when racing went green again, Ricciardo was 2.3 seconds behind and losing ground. Lapped traffic helped Hamilton eek out even more of an advantage and even rain sprinkles returning to the circuit in the final two laps weren’t enough to give Ricciardo the second chance he needed for victory.
It’s a rare day when a driver dominates a Formula One weekend and loses, but Monaco is a cruel mistress and despite how much Saturday proved to be Ricciardo’s day, today clearly was not.
Image: Red Bull Content Pool