Ricciardo victorious at Monaco

Daniel Ricciardo survived a reliability scare to hold off Sebastian Vettel to take his second victory of the 2018 Formula 1 season in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Ricciardo was comfortably in charge early on before an apparent energy recovery systems problem took hold for the majority of the race.

The honey badger managed that loss of power to the end to clinch his seventh Grand Prix victory, with Vettel dropping back in second late on and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes a distant third.

Ricciardo covered Vettel into Ste Devote and had built a lead of 3.6 seconds before the leaders pitted to shed their used hypersofts from qualifying.

Vettel stopped on lap 16 of 78 with Ricciardo staying out a lap later and rejoining with a lead still above three seconds.

Ricciardo then started to report a loss of power and Vettel closed in.

Red Bull indicated the problem would not get worse and Ricciardo was able to maintain the lead, albeit at a reduced pace.

That allowed Vettel to run just over a second behind him, with Hamilton gradually closing in and putting the top three within three seconds of each other.

Hamilton was complaining more about the state of his tyres and gradually slipped back to a lonely third position.

Ricciardo’s loss of pace meant Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas threatened to stop privately duelling over fourth and join the lead train, but never quite managed to do so.

Bottas had briefly threatened to be a dark horse after taking supersofts at his only pitstop while the top four went on ultrasofts, and was considerably faster in clean air.

His charge ended as soon as he caught Raikkonen and found himself stuck behind the Ferrari, and although they closed right up on Hamilton at the end they held position.

Esteban Ocon just held on to finish best-of-the-rest for Force India.

Ocon pitted later than most frontrunners but not as late as Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg, who ran exceptionally long opening stints and had fierce pace in the second half of the race.

Toro Rosso driver Gasly had supersofts to the hypersofts on Hulkenberg’s Renault, but just about managed to keep seventh place as Ocon kept the pair at bay.

Max Verstappen scored points after his crash on Saturday condemned him to a back-of-the-grid start.

The Red Bull drove gradually rose up the order and finished ninth after wresting the place from Carlos Sainz Jr with a forceful move at the Nouvelle chicane.

Sainz survived one attack there by cutting the chicane, but a lap later Verstappen made it stick on the outside – he ran slightly deep into the corner and half-cut it, half-clobbered the kerb on the first right-hand apex, but kept the place.

A late conclusion to the race was interrupted by Charles Leclerc rear-ending Brendon Hartley under braking for the Nouvelle chicane with seven laps to go.

Hartley was running P11 with Leclerc just behind when the Sauber rookie smashed into the rear of the Toro Rosso shortly after exiting the tunnel.

Leclerc, who reported “no brakes” immediately afterwards, skated down the escape road with the front of his car deranged, while Hartley limped back to retire in the pits with a broken rear wing.

That triggered a virtual safety car, but with so little time remaining the frontrunners did not risk pitting and the order remained the same, albeit with Vettel falling further back from Ricciardo.

Fernando Alonso was the race’s other retiree. The Spaniard was on course to finish seventh until he was forced to retire his McLaren, which was smoking at the rear as he came to a halt on the exit of Ste Devote with 25 laps left.

So a masterclass performance from Daniel Ricciardo. Fastest in all the sessions and to take victory with a power issue is incredible. Well done honey badger on this Monaco Grand Prix triumph. That was redemption and payback.

Monaco Grand Prix, race results:
1 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 78 1h42m54.807s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 78 7.336s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 78 17.013s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 78 18.127s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 78 18.822s
6 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 78 23.667s
7 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 78 24.331s
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 78 24.839s
9 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 78 25.317s
10 Carlos Sainz Renault 78 1m09.013s
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 78 1m09.864s
12 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 78 1m10.461s
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 78 1m14.823s
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 77 1 Lap
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 77 1 Lap
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 77 1 Lap
17 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 76 2 Laps
18 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 70 Collision
19 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 70 Collision
– Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 52 Gearbox

Drivers’ standings:
1 Lewis Hamilton 110
2 Sebastian Vettel 96
3 Daniel Ricciardo 72
4 Valtteri Bottas 68
5 Kimi Raikkonen 60
6 Max Verstappen 35
7 Fernando Alonso 32
8 Nico Hulkenberg 26
9 Carlos Sainz 20
10 Kevin Magnussen 19
11 Pierre Gasly 18
12 Sergio Perez 17
13 Esteban Ocon 9
14 Charles Leclerc 9
15 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
16 Lance Stroll 4
17 Marcus Ericsson 2
18 Brendon Hartley 1
19 Romain Grosjean 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 178
2 Ferrari 156
3 Red Bull-Renault 107
4 Renault 46
5 McLaren-Renault 40
6 Force India-Mercedes 26
7 Toro Rosso-Honda 19
8 Haas-Ferrari 19
9 Sauber-Ferrari 11
10 Williams-Mercedes 4

Ricciardo on top form with Monaco Grand Prix pole

Daniel Ricciardo claimed pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix while his Red Bull Racing’s team-mate Max Verstappen missed qualifying following his practice crash.

The honey badger topped the first two stages of qualifying, with Verstappen unable even to take to the street circuit thanks to damage sustained in a crash at the second part of Swimming Pool that forced a gearbox change, before banging in a one minute, 10.810 seconds on his first run in Q3 to take top spot.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton briefly threatened Ricciardo’s position with the fastest first sector time of qualifying on his final lap, but lost time later and ended up third behind Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel.

Ricciardo, meanwhile, looked set to improve, but lost time in the final sector and ended up posting a lap 0.036 seconds slower than his first attempt.

This is only Ricciardo’s second pole position in Formula 1, coming two years after his first at the same event.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest, just 0.034 seconds slower than Hamilton, with the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in fifth place.

Of the Q3 runners, only the Mercedes drivers attempted an alternative strategy by using ultrasofts compound for their first runs in Q2.

But neither Hamilton nor Bottas were quick enough and had to run again on hypersofts, meaning all of the top ten will start on the softest Pirelli compound.

Esteban Ocon won the battle for best of the rest in sixth place, with just 0.160 seconds covering the bottom five in Q3.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, Renault’s Carlos Sainz, Force India’s Sergio Perez and Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly completed the top ten.

Nico Hulkenberg’s final lap in Q2 was not good enough to get him into the top ten, falling a tenth short of Gasly’s time.

McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne was shuffled down to P12 having been sixth based on his time on the first runs thanks to failing to improve on his second set of tyres – potentially as a result of a minor problem with the car.

Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc were eighth and ninth respectively in Q1, but ended up P13 and P14 overall despite both making slight improvements in the second stage of qualifying.

Romain Grosjean was P15 for Haas, just 0.014 seconds slower than Leclerc, as the team continued to struggle.

Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley was fastest of those to be eliminated in Q1 in P16.

His first run was not quick enough to avoid the drop zone, and he was only able to make an improvement of 0.224 seconds on his second set of hypersofts.

A yellow flag at Ste Devote because of Leclerc’s off meant he could not make a final attempt to get into the top 15.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was P17 ahead of the Williams of Lance Stroll, with Kevin Magnussen’s difficult weekend continuing with P19 and last place of the runners ahead only of Verstappen.

So a contrast of fortunes for Red Bull Racing. Daniel Ricciardo is on mighty form after setting the pace in all three practice sessions and qualifying leading to pole position.

While Max Verstappen suffered a crash in final practice and was unable to part in Q1. Will start the Monaco Grand Prix last. Sunday’s race should be fascinating. Bring on the street fight.

Qualifying positions, Monaco Grand Prix:

1 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m10.810s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m11.039s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m11.232s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m11.266s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m11.441s
6 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m12.061s
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m12.110s
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m12.130s
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m12.154s
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m12.221s
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m12.411s
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m12.440s
13 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m12.521s
14 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m12.714s
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1m13.179s
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m13.265s
17 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m13.323s
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m12.728s
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m13.393s
20 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault –

Hamilton leads a Mercedes 1-2 in Spain

An easy Sunday afternoon drive for the defending champion. Lewis Hamilton made it back-to-back Formula 1 victories as he headed home a dominant Mercedes one-two in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton defeated team-mate Valtteri Bottas by more than 20 seconds after a surprise second stop under a virtual safety car for Sebastian Vettel dropped Ferrari off the podium.

In his place came Max Verstappen, who fended off Vettel despite a damaged front wing to score his first podium of the year.

Vettel jumped Bottas into Turn 1 to slot into second before the race was immediately neutralised under a safety car for a multi-car crash at Turn 3.

Romain Grosjean had just got ahead of Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso after those ran deep into Turn 2, but then overreacted to a wobble from Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen ahead of him and ran wide on the entry to Turn 3.

Grosjean lost the rear but seemed to keep the throttle planted, which lit up the rear tyres, spun him back across the track and meant he was collected by Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault and Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso.

All three retired on the spot and a lengthy clean-up operation began, before racing resumed on lap 7.

Hamilton bolted clear at the restart, comfortably stretching his advantage to more than seven seconds over the next ten laps, until Vettel stopped.

A slow out-lap as Vettel struggled to get an immediate hit on its fresh medium tyres, combined with Bottas pumping in outright best sector times, looked to have handed second position to Mercedes.

But Bottas suffered a slow pitstop, losing 1.4 seconds to Vettel, and emerged just behind.

The procession was interrupted on lap 25 by the first of two incidents involving Ferrari.

First, Kimi Raikkonen slowed from fourth position and coaxed his car back into the pits to retire – The Iceman had taken a new engine after Friday practice.

The second came 15 laps later, when Esteban Ocon’s smoking, parked Force India sparked a virtual safety car and Ferrari reacted by pitting Vettel and putting him on a two-stop strategy as the other frontrunners stuck to a one-stop.

That gave track position to Bottas and Verstappen, but kept Vettel ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

Vettel, with fresh medium tyres, started to catch Verstappen as the Red Bull driver battled with a front wing missing the left endplate, which he broke clipping a Williams at the VSC restart.

However, Verstappen just kept clear of Vettel to score his first podium of the season behind the Mercedes one-two.

Ricciardo slipped back to a lonely fifth after a curious second half of the race.

Having run within ten seconds of Verstappen at the VSC, he dropped big chunks of time at certain points and ended up 21 seconds behind his team-mate despite responding with the fastest lap near the end.

Kevin Magnussen produced a faultless drive to claim sixth and best-of-the-rest honours for Haas, while Sainz survived a fuel problem in the closing stages to finish seventh.

Alonso was eighth for McLaren ahead of Sergio Perez’s Force India, while Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc earned his second points finish in a row with tenth.

So not the most exciting Spanish Grand Prix as aerodynamics and circuit layout makes overtaking difficult. The most dramatic moment was at the opening lap in which three cars got wiped out.

Congratulations to Mercedes in scoring a perfect 1-2 result at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. This was Lewis Hamilton’s 64th victory in Formula 1 and extends his championship lead to Sebastian Vettel by 17 points.

Spanish Grand Prix, race results:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 1h35m29.972s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 66 20.593s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 66 26.873s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 66 27.584s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 66 50.058s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 65 1 Lap
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 65 1 Lap
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 65 1 Lap
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 64 2 Laps
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 64 2 Laps
11 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 64 2 Laps
12 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 64 2 Laps
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 64 2 Laps
14 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 63 3 Laps
– Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 45 Retirement
– Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 38 Retirement
– Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 25 Retirement
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 0 Collision
– Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 0 Collision
– Nico Hulkenberg Renault 0 Collision

Drivers’ standings:

1 Lewis Hamilton 95
2 Sebastian Vettel 78
3 Valtteri Bottas 58
4 Kimi Raikkonen 48
5 Daniel Ricciardo 47
6 Max Verstappen 33
7 Fernando Alonso 32
8 Nico Hulkenberg 22
9 Kevin Magnussen 19
10 Carlos Sainz 19
11 Sergio Perez 17
12 Pierre Gasly 12
13 Charles Leclerc 9
14 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
15 Lance Stroll 4
16 Marcus Ericsson 2
17 Esteban Ocon 1
18 Brendon Hartley 1
19 Romain Grosjean 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors’ standings:

1 Mercedes 153
2 Ferrari 126
3 Red Bull-Renault 80
4 Renault 41
5 McLaren-Renault 40
6 Haas-Ferrari 19
7 Force India-Mercedes 18
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 13
9 Sauber-Ferrari 11
10 Williams-Mercedes 4

Hamilton leads Silver Arrows front row in Spain

Lewis Hamilton leads a Mercedes front row at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, from Valtteri Bottas with title rival Sebastian Vettel in third.

The defending champion was fastest after the first runs in the Q3 top ten shootout, and like Bottas opted for another set of supersoft Pirellis for his second run.

Hamilton banged in a lap of one minute, 16.173 seconds to shave just over three tenths off his earlier time to secure top spot.

Bottas was a little bit faster than Hamilton in the first and third sectors, but Hamilton’s mighty speed in the second sector meant Bottas ended up second best.

With some of Mercedes’ rivals struggling to get the best out of the supersofts, Sebastian Vettel used softs to take third place for Ferrari, 0.132 seconds off the pace.

His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen qualified fourth.

That put him ahead of the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, who were separated by just two thousandths of a second in fourth and fifth.

This was despite the Red Bull drivers splitting their tyre choice, with Verstappen setting his time on supersofts and Ricciardo on softs.

Kevin Magnussen was best of the rest for Haas, ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Romain Grosjean was ninth, ahead of the Renault of Carlos Sainz.

Nine of the top ten drivers used the soft Pirellis to set their Q2 times, meaning all except Alonso, who used supersofts, will start on that tyre compound.

Stoffel Vandoorne lapped 0.223 seconds slower than team-mate Alonso in Q2 using soft Pirellis, ending up in P11 and fastest of the five drivers eliminated at that stage.

Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly was P12, just ahead of the Force India of Esteban Ocon.

Sauber’s Charles Leclerc managed to split the Force Indias with a lap of one minute, 18.910 seconds, almost two-tenths faster than Sergio Perez.

Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest driver to be eliminated in Q1 in P16 after Vandoorne made a late improvement.

The Renault driver was unable to set a time on his first run owing to what the team described as a “fuel pressure issue” that held him back throughout Q1, and only had time for a single attempt on his second run – ending up 0.038 seconds slower than Vandoorne.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was P17, over half-a-second behind Hulkenberg, with Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin, who must serve a three-place grid penalty thanks to hitting Sergio Perez on the first lap of the last race in Baku, P18.

Lance Stroll was P19, crashing exiting the Turn 12 right-hander on his final flier after running wide then losing it on the throttle at the exit as he ran into the gravel.

He spun, glancing the wall, and ended up coming to rest at the entry of Turn 13.

Brendon Hartley did not participate in qualifying after spinning at the high-speed Campsa right-hander at the end of the third free practice session and backing heavily into the barriers.

His Toro Rosso team could not get the car repaired during the two-hour gap before qualifying. So will start the race last.

So a superb Mercedes one-two qualifying result. The first for the team this season. Two years ago, the Silver Arrows started on the front row but clashed on the opening lap… Fingers crossed the Spanish Grand Prix will be incident-free for Hamilton and Bottas.

Qualifying positions, Spanish Grand Prix:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m16.173s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m16.213s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m16.305s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m16.612s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m16.816s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m16.818s
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m17.676s
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m17.721s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m17.790s
10 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m17.835s
11 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m18.323s
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m18.463s
13 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m18.696s
14 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m18.910s
15 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m19.098s
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m18.923s
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m19.493s
18 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m20.225s
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m19.695s
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda –