When Daniel Ricciardo eventually checks the official classification of the Monaco GP, it will be difficult for him to believe how simple the race looked on paper. The Grand Prix concluded with the six drivers finishing where they started and Ricciardo eventually winning by 7.3 seconds, but it couldn’t have been a more intriguing and difficult contest for the man up front.
Give Ricciardo a car that can win races and more often than not that is what he will do. Monaco has been Red Bull’s best chance of victory for the last couple of years now and Ricciardo has been there on many occasions. 2016’s race should have been his and losing power on lap 20 it momentarily seemed that his Monaco curse would strike again.
This victory consolidates Ricciardo’s status as one of Formula 1’s best drivers. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner likened his drive riddled with power unit problems to Michael Schumacher’s 1994
Spanish GP, race where the legend had to battle through transmission issue locking the gearbox in fifth.
“We had problems we had a lot to deal with during the race,” explained Ricciardo. “Before halfway I felt a loss of power and thought the race was done.
“We got home just using six gears, and thanks to the team we got it back.”
But keeping a consistently cool head when many of his contemporaries would have lost theirs, Ricciardo drove an inch-perfect race whilst under unabating pressure from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
All drivers negotiated the first few laps with no issues, and Ricciardo was initially able to extend his advantage to the cars behind with pace relatively slow, with Nico Hulkenberg and Lewis Hamilton commenting that they could go faster. Hamilton eventually came into the pits, the first of the leading cars to do so. This triggered an increase of pace but warm-up issued meant Hamilton couldn’t capitalise on having fresh tyres, eventually slipping back into third place when everyone had stopped.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas chose to put on the hardest tyre available and initially looked strong, but couldn’t overtake and with everyone else choosing to do just a single stop he too struggled with similar tyre graining to those on the softer ultra-soft tyres.
It turned out that Ricciardo always had it covered. Despite at times the win looking in doubt with Vettel applying the pressure, Ricciardo made what was an incredibly arduous race look very easy indeed.
The race may not have had the excitement of many of the other races this year, but anyone watching will have come away satisfied at seeing a driver as deserving as Ricciardo take a long over-due victory round F1’s most prestigious location.