How Ricciardo banished his Monaco F1 ghosts in 2018

Victory at the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix slipped through Daniel Ricciardo's grasp and left the normally jovial Australian enraged. But two years later at the 2018 edition, he banished those demons with a gutsy drive

How Ricciardo banished his Monaco F1 ghosts in 2018
Listen to this article

The sight of Daniel Ricciardo without anything but a grin on his face is rare in Formula 1.

Even when thrust into the media pen after some of his toughest races with Renault last year, Ricciardo would always find some kind of silver lining, or at least poke fun at his own bad luck.

But some of the most iconic images of Ricciardo's F1 career came from a moment where he was seething with anger, his face devoid of happiness as he accepted the second-place finisher's trophy at the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix.

It was a race that had slipped through Ricciardo's fingers. After scoring his maiden F1 pole the previous day, Ricciardo had dominated the opening stages of the race in rainy conditions before slipping behind Lewis Hamilton after pitting for intermediates.

Hamilton had been kept out on full wet tyres before making the switch to slicks, allowing Ricciardo to close right up before both came in to make the switch on consecutive laps. Hamilton completed his stop before Red Bull prepared to bring Ricciardo in one lap later.

But after a late change in deciding which tyre Ricciardo would be switched too, the Australian arrived in his pit box without any of his mechanics ready. They scurried back out with the tyres and fitted them to Ricciardo's car, but as he snaked out of the pit exit after a nine-second delay Hamilton flashed past and took the lead.

Read Also:

It left Ricciardo in a frustrated second for the remainder of the race, leaving big scars after coming so close to winning F1's blue-riband event for the first time.

"I was so angry," Ricciardo wrote in a recent Twitter post looking back on the race. "I wouldn't have minded having a mechanical so I didn't finish. I didn't want to talk to anyone afterwards. I certainly didn't want any sympathy - it was just pure rage.

"I didn't want to hear anyone apologising and I didn't think anything good could come from me pointing the finger either when I was so angry. It's what made two years later so sweet."

Top three finishers, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing and Sergio Perez, Force India on the podium

Top three finishers, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1, Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing and Sergio Perez, Force India on the podium

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Ricciardo arrived in Monaco for the 2018 grand prix in a similar position to two years before. Red Bull's car was, for once, the pacesetter that weekend, taking a 1-2 finish in both FP1 and FP2. Heading into Saturday, it appeared to be a straight fight between Ricciardo and young teammate Max Verstappen for victory.

But in final practice, Verstappen blew his chances of a maiden Monaco win. A mistake exiting the Swimming Pool chicane caused him to slam into the barrier and ruin the front-end of his RB14 car, leaving his mechanics with an impossible repair job ahead of qualifying. Verstappen was forced to sit out qualifying as a result, paving the way for Ricciardo to take his second Monaco pole ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

"50% done," he said after crossing the line. "Let's finish this s**t tomorrow."

With redemption on his mind, Ricciardo made a perfect getaway from pole to retain his advantage over Vettel, and quickly set about building his lead through the first stint. The gap remained stable at around two seconds before growing by a further second as Vettel's tyres began to fade.

Vettel tried to get the undercut on Ricciardo by pitting at the end of lap 16, forcing Red Bull to respond one lap later. This time, all four tyres were ready far in advance and fitted with no issues, allowing Ricciardo to emerge from the pits still leading. The hurdle that had knocked him down two years ago had been negotiated successfully.

But Vettel began to take some bites out of Ricciardo's advantage before the gap dropped by almost a second in one lap alone. Ricciardo reported on lap 28 that he was losing power, asking engineer Simon Rennie if there was anything he could do.

"We can see what's going on, you just need to keep it smooth, keep it focused," replied a soothing Rennie. Ricciardo was less relaxed, simply stating: "I've got no power though!"

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Vettel managed to close up to Ricciardo and get within DRS range as the Red Bull ran as much as 12mph down on its usual top speed at the end of the straights. It turned out to be an MGU-K failure that was costing him around 160bhp, and meant he could not use seventh or eighth gear.

It was an unenviable task with 50 laps remaining to nurse both his car and his tyres as he ran around 2.5 seconds per lap slower than his fastest time in the race. Red Bull had no plans to save the engine by retiring the car, with team principal Christian Horner later saying his position was "we're leading the Monaco Grand Prix - we'll run until this engine stops".

But as the race wore on, Vettel struggled to get close enough to truly hassle Ricciardo or line up a move. The Ferrari driver opted on multiple occasions to back off and give Ricciardo some space, cooling his tyres for a renewed charge, but the split between the pair never read less than nine-tenths of a second as the laps ticked by.

Vettel was forced to give up on catching Ricciardo after Stoffel Vandoorne pitted under the virtual safety car with six laps to go, emerging from the pits between the two drivers heading the field. Rennie tried to give some final words of encouragement, only for Ricciardo to interrupt: "I got it buddy!"

And after 78 laps, there was relief at last for Ricciardo. He eventually crossed the line seven seconds clear of Vettel, clinching Red Bull's first Monaco win since 2012 and becoming the third Australian to win the race after Mark Webber and Jack Brabham.

"Absolutely amazing!" cried Rennie over the radio. "I don't know how you did that Daniel, incredible. Holy s**t!"

"Hoooooly tomorrow," replied Ricciardo. "Cheers boys. Redemption!"

Horner was quick to jump on the radio and hail Ricciardo's herculean effort in the car, calling it "un-f**king-believable".

"You have done an amazing job today - that is right up there with what Schumacher did," Horner said, referring to Michael Schumacher's run to P2 at the 1994 Spanish Grand Prix when stuck in fifth gear. "That is payback for 2016. Give Prince Albert a shoey!"

Princess Charlene and Prince Albert of Monaco with Race winner Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing,on the podium

Princess Charlene and Prince Albert of Monaco with Race winner Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing,on the podium

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Unfortunately Ricciardo didn't make his trademark celebration a group activity, instead preferring to serve Prince Albert and his wife, Charlene, their champagne from the winner's bottle.

It was a race that really marked the high point for Ricciardo at Red Bull. After the race, there was talk of his stock being higher than ever, helping his contract talks with the team amid speculation of outside interest.

But it is certainly one of the most significant wins of Ricciardo's career, something he made note of when looking back on his most emotional races.

"I'm not going to lie, Monaco 2016 haunted me for two years, and then to not put a foot wrong in 2018 and thinking the win would slip away from me again..." Ricciardo remembered.

"[But] 2018 was a different level of stress, simply because of what had happened there in '16. The main feeling was sheer relief that this time I didn't have it taken from me.

"I enjoyed it more the days after the Sunday when it all sunk in, but that Sunday night - I was just burned out. It was more a massive exhale than anything else."

It was a day of redemption for Ricciardo, ensuring he would not go down in history as a driver who nearly won in Monaco.

Even if his prospects of adding to his haul of seven grand prix wins in the near future look slim, a Monaco Grand Prix victory - and such an emotionally-charged one - is something that can never be taken from him.

Race winner Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing celebrates with the team in the Red Bull Energy Station swimming pool

Race winner Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing celebrates with the team in the Red Bull Energy Station swimming pool

shares
comments

Related video

The day Ron Dennis told Enrique Bernoldi his F1 fortune
Previous article

The day Ron Dennis told Enrique Bernoldi his F1 fortune

Next article

Why Britain's Ferrari-linked F1 hopeful is playing the waiting game

Why Britain's Ferrari-linked F1 hopeful is playing the waiting game
Load comments
The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins Prime

The six subplots to watch in 2022 as a new F1 era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, We pick out six other key elements to follow this season

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2022
Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1 Prime

Why newly-retired Kimi Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades.

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up Prime

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. We break down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems Prime

Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway, but instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Prime

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Prime

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Prime

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022