MONACO: Daniel Ricciardo brought back memories of Formula One great Michael Schumacher in his prime on Sunday as the Australian nursed a wounded Red Bull to Monaco Grand Prix victory in the team’s 250th race.
Winning from pole position for the first time in his career, Ricciardo drove for nearly two thirds of the race with a car down on power due to problems that emerged on lap 28 and showed outstanding composure and defensive driving to fend off Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.
Vettel, last year’s race winner, finished second to cut Lewis Hamilton’s overall lead to 14 points after six of 21 rounds. Hamilton, the reigning world champion, was third for Mercedes.
Hamilton made an audacious move by pitting for new tires several laps before his rivals, but was worried they would wear out completely by the end.
The virtual safety car came out for the last few laps after Charles Leclerc lost his brakes and 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.
The incident came too late and made no difference to the overall race picture.
Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth in the second Ferrari ahead of fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes and Frenchman Esteban Ocon, who was sixth for Force India.
Another Frenchman Pierre Gasly came home seventh for Toro Rosso ahead of Nico Hulkenberg of Renault, Dutchman Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull, who had started 20th on the grid, and Carlos Sainz in the second Renault.
It was Ricciardo’s second win of the season after the Chinese GP last month and seventh of his career, pushing him up to third in the title race.
Ricciardo thought he’d won in Monaco two years ago, where he led from pole position only to be undone by a botched pit stop by his team which left him furious.
There was no denying him this time.
“Two years in the making and I finally feel redemption has arrived,” Ricciardo said. “I lost power halfway and I thought the race was over. Thanks to the team we got it back. I’m stoked.”
Ricciardo appeared emotional, even tearful, as he sat in his car moments after crossing the finish line after 78 laps on the winding 3.34km street circuit.
It was soon time for Ricciardo’s typical showmanship. He stood on his car, nodded slowly in recognition of his achievement and then thumped his chest.
“There were a few doubts that came in. But we won Monaco,” he said, laughing. “It feels good.”
Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2018