Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s Daniel Ricciardo claimed his second victory of the 2018 Formula One season at the Circuit de Monaco.
The Australian started from pole position having dominated qualifying yesterday, with Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team‘s Lewis Hamilton completing the podium.
Ricciardo was hampered by his RB14‘s MGU-K suffering an issue resulting in a loss of power.
However, due to the nature of the circuit and the difficulty of overtaking those behind were not able to take advantage of the situation.
Further to this, the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers behind were struggling on their tyres which meant they were having to be more conservative.
Even Valtteri Bottas who was on the super soft tyres at the end, whereas his rivals were on the ultra softs, was struggling for grip more than the Australian.
At the start Ricciardo got the perfect getaway from pole to maintain his lead ahead of Vettel and Hamilton.
Due to his crash in Free Practice Three Max Verstappen had to start from the back of the grid as he was unable to take part in qualifying.
Needing to get his race off to the best start possible the Dutchman passed the two Haas‘ at the start to move himself up into eighteenth place.
Scuderia Toro Rosso‘s Brendon Hartley made contact with Monegasque rookie Charles Leclerc as the latter hoped to impress in his first home race.
The New Zealander ended up with damage to his front wing but did not change it.
It was not such a positive start for Sergey Sirotkin who was under investigation by the stewards for his wheels not being fitted by the three minute warning prior to the race start.
The Williams Martini Racing driver was handed a ten second stop/go penalty as a result.
It did not get much better for the Russian who was then under investigation for his team working on his car during his stop/go penalty. Though this warranted no further action.
Verstappen who was quickly making up ground behind took sixteenth from Lance Stroll coming out of the tunnel down to the chicane as he continued his charge through the field.
Out front Ricciardo, Vettel and Hamilton were exchanging fastest laps as they got their footing in the race with Ricciardo trying to build a gap that the other two were wanting to keep as small as possible.
An already difficult start to the race got even worse for Williams when Stroll suffered a puncture; the incident was not caught on cameras but Kevin Magnussen reported debris at the Lowes hairpin – where Hartley and Leclerc came together – so the assumption is it was picked up there.
Hamilton triggered the pitstop phase by being the first of the front runners to take his pitstop to switch from the hyper softs to the ultra softs. The Briton emerged back on track behind the Sahara Force India of Esteban Ocon.
Next on the investigation list was Hartley who was deemed to have been speeding in the pitlane and was handed a five second time penalty.
Second place man Vettel was next of the frontrunners to come in for his stop, also switching to the ultra softs and returning to track in third place.
Proof of the advantage he had, Ricciardo was next to dive into the pitlane – with Kimi Raikkonen following him in – for a tyre change and managed to retain his lead.
The final driver of the top five to stop was Bottas, who put on a new set of super softs with those around him on ultra softs.
However, it was looking like Bottas was in the best position of the five as the ultra soft runners struggled to get their tyres up to temperature as they tip-toed round the two-mile track.
Ricciardo in front was reassured to know that those behind were suffering the same issues as him with tyre warm up.
Further back Verstappen was now battling with Stoffel Vandoorne, when the latter’s team-mate came out just in front of them after a pitstop. McLaren radioed the Belgian and asked him to hold up the Dutchman to allow Alonso to get further down the road.
Vandoorne eventually came into pit which released Verstappen to hunt down Alonso.
What was looking like a certain victory for Ricciardo soon took a turn for the worse when he radioed his team to say that he was losing power.
The Australian was able to maintain the issue through the corners as not to be at such a disadvantage through the tunnel and on the pit straight.
Another result of this was Ricciardo only being able to use six of the eight gears.
More concerning for the Red Bull driver was that he was told the issue would not get any better.
However, working in Ricciardo’s favour was the nature of the Monaco circuit making overtaking difficult so when Vettel did close up he was unable to attempt a realistic move for the lead.
This allowed Hamilton and Raikkonen to close up on the pair, with Bottas not too far behind.
Nico Hulkenberg was the fastest man on track on lap 47 despite not having changed the tyres he started the race on; but eventually came in on lap 51 to change for some fresh rubber slotting in on track just behind team-mate Carlos Sainz in tenth.
The first retirement of the race was Fernando Alonso, who slowed on the main straight as a result of a gearbox issue.
Sainz was ordered to let Hulkenberg through by their Renault team but had to be wise as to where they made the switch as Verstappen very close to the pair.
They managed to make the switch without losing any places to the Dutchman, to allow Hulkenberg to hunt down Pierre Gasly.
Verstappen did not let off his attack with the Dutchman getting a run on the Spaniard coming out of the tunnel with Sainz running off the track to avoid contact.
The next lap Verstappen managed to get the move done but that time he jumped the chicane but maintained the position.
It was a heartbreaking end for Leclerc in his first Monaco GP.
The Monegasque driver was coming out of the tunnel when his brakes failed which sent him flying into the rear of Hartley.
Leclerc pulled into a run off area and Hartley managed to bring his car to the pits meaning there was no need for a safety car.
A Virtual Safety Car period was deployed though but the race leaders had already come past the entry meaning they were unable to come in and try and take advantage of it.
Vandoorne did come in for another stop and came out in between Ricciardo and Vettel.
When the racing resumed Ricciardo and Vandoorne both got going again instantly but Vettel struggled to get heat into his tyres and rapidly fell off the leader.
The German had to tread carefully as he locked up at one stage, a warning to take care of his tyres.
In the end, despite his issues Ricciardo was able to cruise to the finish by seven seconds over Vettel to win the Monaco Grand Prix as redemption for his lost 2016 victory.
The top six finished in the positions where they had qualified with Hamilton, Raikkonen, Bottas and Ocon rounding off the positions.
Gasly held off Hulkenberg as Verstappen came through from the back to finish ninth ahead of Sainz.
Marcus Ericsson, Sergio Perez, Magnussen, Vandoorne, Romain Grosjean, Sirotkin and Stroll completed the finishers.
Leclerc, Hartley and Alonso were the only non-finishers.
This result now means Ricciardo has taken two wins this years, as have Vettel and Hamilton, to move himself into third in the championship.
Vettel has closed the gap to Hamilton at the top by three points to 14, as the hunt for the fifth world title heats up.
2018 FIA Formula One Results: Circuit de Monaco – Race 1
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