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Redemption for Ricciardo on the mean streets of Monaco


Despite one's best efforts, there will always be accusations of bias when it comes to reporting on F1... or indeed, most topics.

Over the year we have been accused of being pro-XYZ and anti-XYZ, be it driver, team, circuit, team boss or commercial rights holder.

With that in mind, may we just say that we feel no embarrassment whatsoever in admitting that we hope to see Daniel Ricciardo convert his pole position into a visit to the top step of the podium today.

Forget the infectious grin and the schoolboy sense of humour. Forget the fact that he is clearly not the golden boy at Red Bull, while said golden boy starts from the back of the grid today. Forget the fact that he is king of the late-brakers, the man who make a pass stick where angels fear to tread.

No, Daniel Ricciardo is owed victory today, if only for the fact that he was robbed here two years ago.

The sight of the youngster on the podium back then, clearly heartbroken that a team error had robbed him of certain victory, is not one that we will easily forget.

This weekend Ricciardo has been a man on fire, dominating every practice session and then producing that lap. If anyone but him takes victory today it will be a travesty.

Of course, the biggest threat to the Australian will be starting the race nine rows back, in itself guaranteeing an eventful afternoon. On a track where overtaking is nigh impossible, Max Verstappen will be out to prove the claim wrong, whilst ensuring that there are no further mistakes.

Not that it will make much difference, after his team opted to change the MGU-K on his car, Verstappen takes a ten-place grid penalty.

While it was always clear that Red Bull would be strong here, it was equally clear that its rivals, particularly Mercedes, would struggle, and that proved to be the case.

Then again, as Lewis Hamilton made clear, one cannot build a car specific to each track, so on the basis that Monaco is a one-off, the German team has opted to bite the bullet.

That said, Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel didn't take things lying down yesterday, and if either can nail Ricciardo at the start - of which more later - the whole nature of the race will change.

An already frantic battle for supremacy of the midfield is likely to be even more frantic today as the characteristics of the track level the playing field and those usually at a disadvantage seek to capitalise on any opportunity that comes their way, such as a safety car.

While Esteban Ocon starts from a very impressive sixth, he will be under intense pressure from the get-go from Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz, not to mention his fellow Panther.

At the same time, Pierre Gasly will be embroiled in wheel-to-wheel combat with the likes of Hulkenberg, Vandoorne, Sirotkin and local boy Leclerc.

Having shown strong pace for much of the weekend, we were expecting to see Brendon Hartley a little further up the grid. Despite his claim that his seat is not under threat, the kiwi, much like Romain Grosjean, is someone who needs a good result, and where better than the Principality.

Talking of Grosjean, the Frenchman faces a tough afternoon, the Haas, much like Sauber, not looking at all good here.

Also having a tough weekend is Lance Stroll, though one question why teammate Sergey Sirotkin made it Q2 and is generally making a better effort of it all at present.

The first obstacle Ricciardo will need to overcome this afternoon is the start.

With a tight bunched field the first few corners at Barcelona showed what can happen in the heat of the moment as twenty young racers do their level best to win the race on the first lap... at Monaco the likelihood of an incident is one-hundred time greater.

Those tight, twisty turns, those unforgiving barriers, are just calling out for someone to do a 'Verstappen', and the smallest of mistakes which elsewhere would result in nothing more than as spin or a trip through the kitty litter usually result in tears on the mean streets of Monaco.

Quickest strategy today is a one-stopper, according to Pirelli, one stint on hypersoft for 14 laps then supersofts to the flag. The second-quickest is also a one-stopper, with one stint on ultrasofts for 25 laps then supersofts to the flag.

As we know, the leading ten will all start on the hypers, while those behind will have a free choice. This will surely mean the likes of Verstappen opt for the ultras and a long opening stint, while also hoping for a safety car. As ever, undercuts and overcuts will play a significant part in the strategy.

Indeed, looking at Pirelli's suggested strategy, with some drivers complaining the hypers are only good for 5 or 6 laps could we see some two-stop strategies. Not for nothing is Monaco - like Las Vegas - synonymous with gambling.

Following three days of bright sunshine, around an hours before the scheduled start it begins to rain. It's not heavy, but the clouds surrounding the Principality suggest that it could deteriorate.

The pitlane opens at 14:40 and one by one the drivers head out.

The rain has stopped - though the clouds remain - and while the air temperature is 25 degrees C, the track temperature is 33 degrees. Race control confirsm that the chance of rain is 20%.

"The aim is to finish the race," responds Verstappen when asked if he is targeting a points finish.

As well as the leading ten, Sirotkin and Hartley are on hypersofts, the rest are on ultras. No takers for the supersofts.

As they head off on the parade lap, the stewards have noted that Sirotkin's wheels were not fitted in time for the 3-minute signal.

All get away cleanly for the parade lap.

Ricciardo leads the field around the track before finally taking his place on pole. Last to take their place is teammate Verstappen.

They're away, and despite a good start from Vettel, Ricciardo is also away well moving to the centre of the track in a bid to hold off the German and Hamilton. Into Ste Devote Vettel is almost alongside the Red Bull but not quite and as they head up the hill it's Ricciardo, Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Bottas, with Ocon and Alonso hot on their heels.

At the back Verstappen is already past Grosjean and Magnussen

At the end of lap 1, it's Ricciardo, Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Bottas, Ocon, Alonso, Sainz, Perez and Gasly. Hartley reports contact that has cost him his front wing but he doesn't pit.

Grosjean is also unhappy (again) complaining that someone almost pushed him off. "What the fudge," he screams, or words to that effect.

Out front Ricciardo is setting a strong pace as he builds a 1.59s comfort zone.

"Pace is quite slow," says Hamilton, Ricciardo obviously nursing his tyres.

The stewards confirm that they are now investigating Sirotkin's pre-race wheel issue.

Verstappen makes short work of Ericsson to take 17th.

Down in 11th, Hulkenberg also complains about the slow pace, even though he's 19s down on the leader.

As Sirotkin gets a 10s stop-and-go penalty, Verstappen is all over the Russian's teammate Stroll.

Hamilton reports of graining to his front right, as Verstappen out-brakes Stroll into the chicane.

At the end of lap 7, Sirotkin serves his penalty. He rejoins in last position.

A new fastest lap from Hamilton (16.988) on lap 8 as he maintains a 1.8s deficit to Vettel and 1s lead over Raikkonen.

Not for the first time this year, Alonso and countryman Sainz find themselves battling for position.

Out front, Ricciardo responds with a new fastest lap (16.872) as he extends his lead to 1.8s.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Monaco, here.


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1. Posted by ESTM PRFT, 28/05/2018 17:09

"No power - Honey Badger don't care.
Four time champ Sea Bass in the wings - Honey Badger don't care.
Number two on team behind Maximus - Honey Bader don't give a shxt.
Honey Badger is the Badaxx of the bunch and won't be denied!

Congrats to Daniel! And "Will Power"!

A great day for Aussies at Monaco and Indianapolis!

(And apologies to "The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger by Randall" [])."

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2. Posted by RDFox, 28/05/2018 14:56

"@Tweek: Being in America's Eastern time zone, I can confirm to you that ESPN did broadcast the race live, with the pre-race show starting at 8:25 AM and the race broadcast running from 9AM until a bit after 11AM, when I flipped over to Indy coverage. Additionally, ABC replayed the GP after Indy but before the Coke 600 from Charlotte started its coverage over on Fox."

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3. Posted by nonickname, 28/05/2018 12:21

"MotoGp/2 and 3 all have what F1 lacks. Drivers with balls not halos, multiple overtakes,late braking, bikes being put sideways and drifted under power into and out of corners,grid girls,minimum and only necessary rules and a budget cap which the manufacturers look after. No wings/winglets just bike and rider."

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4. Posted by Spindoctor, 28/05/2018 9:00

"I'm also "stoked" that Daniel won this race.

That aside it was a a procession of barely tolerable dullness with all the "interest" surrounding the performance (actually lack of it) of the tyres.
The allegedly best drivers on the planet reduced to ensuring that their tyres lasted til the end of the race. Even allowing for the difficulty in overtaking at Monaco, the fact that neither Vettel nor Hamiliton, let alone Bottas & Kimi could go fast enough even to get close to Daniel's knackered car is a pretty terrible indictment on the state of F1.

Of course tyre-management is part of motorsport, but running cars whose performance is tyre-limited from the minute they turn a wheel is simply ludicrous. Pirelli should be ashamed that they lack either the courage or ability to deliver tyres which simply work properly most of the time. This need not preclude the need for teams to adopt proper tyre strategies, nor for drivers to 'manage' their tyres properly.
As I find myself increasingly doing; a comparison with MotoGP (3 classes with varying tyre manufacturers) shows that properly designed tyres can contribute to the spectacle without dominating & ruining it."

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5. Posted by Tweek, 28/05/2018 3:20

"A boring, processional race managing tires and engine faults. ESPN didn’t broadcast Monaco until 8pm locally (I’m on the American east coast). Best pass of the race was Sainz and Hulkenberg trading places while blocking Verstappen. The commercial break in the middle of Verstappen/Sainz felt like an echo of ESPN’s coverage of Australia during the Haas retirements. (and angers me even more considering the broadcast delay!!!) Vandoorne had no business inserting himself in front of the Ferrari during the VSC, he denied all of us a shootout to the checkers! Ohh and my DVR cut off the last few minutes of qualifying... I blame ESPN for inserting commercials into the ITV broadcast and extending program length.
At least Indy was exciting!!! I wish Alonso was there. "

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6. Posted by nonickname, 27/05/2018 19:16

"This was the the most boring F1 race in history. Are we supposed to sit on the edge of our seats whatching a car that is down 25% on power win the race. No one can pass so why bother,except to pander to the ego's of the rich and famous.
It is a perfect place to race 250cc go-carts/"

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7. Posted by ZJAY, 27/05/2018 17:35

"Time to negotiate for Ricciardo: number 1 status at Red Bull, few million dollars more, and Red Bull to stick to Renault. "

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