After the maiden win of last year, Daniel Ricciardo swallowed the pill in 2019 Monaco weekend: his Renault cannot obviously be compared to Red Bull good old days, but for the Aussie should be a hard moment to surmount a difficult weekend in a track that had seen him one of the best performers in the last editions.
Thursday started immediately with difficult conditions, with feet to the very solid ground. The #3 driver suffered a gap of 1.307” from Hamilton, covering only three stints on the Soft compound:
“I felt relatively comfortable in the morning and I was pleased that we got up to speed quite quickly. However, we didn’t make the step we needed in the afternoon. We did make some changes, but maybe they didn’t help as well as we’d have liked. Following the afternoon session, we have a bit more homework to do to really find that extra bit. As ever around Monaco, it’s awesome to be back driving a Formula 1 car on these streets. That’s always special”
On FP2 his interest has been keen on the race distance optimal setup: with four stint and 75% of race distance covered, only been 17th head-to-head with teammate probably gutted the dinner.
Hamilton wins the Monaco GP after a huge fight with Max Verstappen; the Dutch man, anyway, hit a penalty that pushed him back to 4th position. Home hero Leclerc is out after the first messy laps.
Saturday saw a partial redemption for both Viry-Chatillon cars: in FP3 the tandem continued with Hulkenberg (12th and 11th respectively), but it’s in Q3 when he put a strike the German fellow tenant with a 7th position time:
Race day start, and he gave proof to be one of the smartest drivers to clinch St. Devote corner: it paid off as the 5th position (first of the midfield cars group) proved. After having pitted from Soft to Medium, the remaining two hours of race were ruined from Raikkonen: the Finn bottled the group of early stopped drivers for many laps, not allowing them to strive to better pace rhythm. After Alfa driver exit, Ricciardo only competes with rookie Albon, Daniil Kvyat and Grosjean for the B-series teams second place: the after race 5PM tea could have been sweeter:
“I’m happy with the end result, especially with where we started on Thursday. We made some brave changes to the car even after FP3, but that worked and going that extra mile has paid off. The team made a strong recovery today and we can be pleased with that. We got into a good rhythm from Q1 all the way through to Q3, which is so important here as qualifying is so significant. Some variables tomorrow could make it interesting and I wouldn’t be disappointed if I wake up to rain! But, wet or dry, I’ll be ready”
“It was a very frustrating race, to be honest. We had a great start, jumped Kevin [Magnussen] on the outside for fifth and had a strong Turn 1. Then we pitted under the safety car, which is where we missed out. We definitely could have done better and got a great result as we had all the cards in our hand. Although we missed some points, the car was very good even though we couldn’t always use the speed we had. We’ll look at what happened and address it for future races.”
Can the former polesitter and winner of Monaco be satisfied with a 9th place? Not knowing the answer, the fact tells us that it may be the early end of a skilled driver’s career, one of the few still able to overtake without DRS and to stop thoroughbreds like Lewis and Verstappen; modern Formula 1 cannot grant the luxury of losing him: if Bernie was still the puppet master, we may have seen a change of seat for the Aussie-Italian…