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Monaco GP: Race Recap

In what was more a procession than a race, the Monaco Grand Prix had few incidents to report on and even less overtaking. Daniel Ricciardo won the Monaco Grand Prix from the pole to deliver Red Bull its 57th win in its milestone 250th race. Ricciardo’s margin of victory over Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was a stout 7.336 seconds. The win was the seventh of Ricciardo’s Formula One career, his second this season and his first at Monaco.

Some race chaos and the attrition of others can help teams move up the leaderboard, but both were in relatively short supply on Sunday. We catch up with some of the teams…

Scuderia Ferrari:

Scuderia Ferrari come away from the Monaco GP, finishing in their grid positions, with Sebastian Vettel back on the podium in second place and Kimi Raikkonen fending off Bottas in the Mercedes to claim fourth.

There were a few harmless drops of rain prior to the start, while the wind constantly changed direction. From second place, Seb immediately tried to attach Ricciardo and Kimi kept fourth place. Then the classic Monegaque Sunday train set off aroun the 3337 metre-long track. The only one who was in DRS range, for the little it counts here, was Raikkonen, who was right up behind Hamilton. Stroll’s Williams got a puncture and pitted right in front of the leading duo.

After 12 laps, the first to change tyres was Hamilton taking on Ultrasofts. Seb picked up the pace to cover off any possible undercut and Kimi also went flat out. On lap 16, the Number 5 car pitted with Sebastian taking on Ultrasofts, managing to get out, as planned, ahead of Bottas. Ricciardo and Kimi also changed tyres, with Bottas coming in for the harder Supersofts. Out in front, no change, but the gaps grew a bit bigger.

On lap 28, Ricciardo’s pace dropped and Seb tried to make the most of it, using all the aids on the steering wheel. But this is Monaco and in the twisty bits, engine power counts for little, so that we had the usual paradox here that the leader manages the situation, going slower than those behind.

The other unusual feature is that the tyres, rather than getting worse, actually improve as the graining gradually cleans up. Sebastian kept the pressure on Ricciardo right up to the closing stages, but the only chance here is if your rival makes a mistake.

There was still time for some drama, as Leclerc, having run out of brakes, collided with the back of Hartley at the tunnel exit, bringing out the Virtual Safety Car. Vandoorne who was lapped, pitted and came out right in front of Seb, who thus immediately lost four seconds prior to the restart. So, a low key finish, but a Ferrari on the podium and 30 points towards the Constructors’ championship in the knowledge that we were on the pace. “Thanks guys, the car was very strong,” was Seb’s comment over the radio.

Sebastian Vettel: “Today, I was trying to get closer to the car in front and do something; but obviously if you get closer it doesn’t help with your tires. In some corners you don’t really need power and Ricciardo was quicker than us. He was always able to open the gap and I was never really there. He could keep his pace and I think that perhaps it could have been worse for us if he hadn’t had some issues. Unfortunately, there weren’t many chances to do something different. I think it was tricky for us to make the tires work the right way. Then, when the Virtual Safety Car came on, a McLaren was just exiting the box and took a lot of time, while I was struggling with tire warm-up, and I think that was the biggest issue that cost me quite a few seconds. It took to me one and a half lap to get the rhythm back, but by then it was too late. However, there are so many races to go and I believe we need to understand our problems. We have a good car, but we can make it better.

Kimi Raikkonen: “Today nothing really happened in the race; to be honest, it was a pretty boring one. We know that on this track, once everybody has stopped, whoever is in the front dictates the speed and no matter if he goes four second slower on a lap, there’s no way to pass unless somebody makes a big mistake or runs out of tires. We end up following each other through the whole race. I had no problem managing my tires, in fact they were pretty good. I only had some graining with the first set, but apart from that they were ok. I was never worried about Bottas behind me, we had the speed and I could easily close up with the car in front, but there was no way to pass him. We were all the time doing our best, but couldn’t use our pace. Obviously we cannot be happy with fourth position, but as always, we try to learn from every race.”

Alfa Romeo SauberF1:

This weekend’s hard work by the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team in Monaco was seen during today’s race with both drivers delivering a consistent and strong performance. On the demanding city track of Monte Carlo, the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team drivers were fighting in the midfield, with Charles Leclerc in P12 followed closely behind Marcus Ericsson in P13. They were managing the race well with a solid pace when, just a few laps before the chequered flag was waved, Charles Leclerc had to retire following a collision with the car ahead (Brendon Hartley) caused by a brake disc issue on his car. Marcus Ericsson made his way forward step-by-step, ultimately finishing the Monaco Grand Prix in P11.

Marcus Ericsson: “As expected, it was a tricky race for us. It was good though, and I am happy with my result. The focus of the race was on tyre management. It was challenging to keep them working in the right window, and make sure to not use them too quickly. It was tough to advance, as we were both stuck behind Brendon (Hartley) for the majority of the race. We lost a lot of time there. It was a good team effort overall, and there are a lot of positives. Next up is Montreal, which is a track that suits us much better. I look forward to that.”

Charles Leclerc: “It was a tough race, and it is disappointing that I could not finish it. Everything was going quite well, we had a good pace, and were competitive in the midfield. We lost a bit of time getting stuck behind Brendon (Hartley) for much of the race and, being on a track where it is difficult to overtake, there was not much we could do. Unfortunately, there was an issue with my brakes just a few laps before finishing. I tried to avoid the car ahead, but there was nothing I could do. A shame, but I look forward to the next race in Canada now.”

Haas F1 Team:

Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean finished 13th and 15th, respectively, in the 76th Monaco Grand Prix Sunday at Circuit de Monaco.

The sixth round of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship at the historic 3.337-kilometer (2.074-mile), 19-turn track was bound to be a difficult affair for the American squad after a disappointing qualifying performance on Saturday.

Grosjean started 18th and Magnussen was 19th for a race where the outcome is often determined in qualifying. Monaco’s tight confines and lack of overtaking places a premium on qualifying, and for those forced to start near the rear of the field, the glitz and glamour of Monaco is non-existent.

The Williams duo of Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll battled their own adversity at the onset of the race and found themselves 19th and 20th, respectively, pushing Grosjean to 18th. Magnussen got the jump on his teammate at the start and then managed his way past Stoffel Vandoorne when the McLaren driver pitted on lap 20, so he was able to rise to 16th.

When Fernando Alonso encountered trouble with his McLaren on lap 53, Magnussen moved to 15th and Grosjean inherited 17th. And then on lap 71 when Charles Leclerc’s Sauber collided with Brenden Hartley’s Toro Rosso in turn 10, Magnussen rose to 13th and Grosjean climbed to 15th.

Despite what they were up against, neither of the Haas F1 Team drivers threw in the towel. Both Magnussen and Grosjean began with the same strategy – one pit stop where they swapped their Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tires for Red supersofts, with the goal being to outlast those ahead of them on softer compounds that would, theoretically, wear out at a quicker rate and significantly drop their lap times and, perhaps, force a second pit stop. Grosjean pitted on lap 15, Magnussen on lap 17.

Grosjean made a second stop late in the race. With no one behind him capable of overtaking, Grosjean took advantage of the VSC (Virtual Safety Car) period that followed the Leclerc/Hartley crash, ducking into the pits on lap 68 for hypersofts. Magnussen stayed out and held onto his track position.

Six rounds into the 21-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team is tied with Toro Rosso for seventh in the constructors’ standings with19 points apiece, seven points behind sixth-place Force India with an eight-point advantage over Sauber, their nearest pursuer.

Romain Grosjean: “It was a tough race. We struggled and didn’t have much pace. Unfortunately, with no crazy thing in the race, we were always going to be in a difficult position. I think we should have a good car in Canada.”

Kevin Magnussen:  “The car that we had this weekend is not representative of what we should have. I’m just glad we’re out of here, and I can’t wait to go to Montreal and get back into the fight. Everyone on the team deserves that. We’re moving on. We’re all looking forward to Canada and to putting some new parts on the car, getting back into our normal shape, and getting back in the fight for points.”

The 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship resumes with the Canadian Grand Prix June 10 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

 

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