Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 27. toukokuuta 2018

Monaco GP: Ricciardo got his redemption!

Although the narrow streets of Monte Carlo offer almost no chances of overtaking, the Monaco GP has usually offered a lot of entertainment due to safety car episodes and costly mistakes made by drivers. However, today's GP was an exception to that, as it turned out to be quite a boring race with no real drama. Nothing dramatic or thrilling happened, not even at the start. Ricciardo on pole took a perfect start and held on to his lead. Sebastian followed his ex teammate closely, with Hamilton and Kimi behind him. Actually the order of the whole top ten remained unchanged at the start. It was amazing, how clean a start the whole pack took, as there were no first-lap collisions! Verstappen, who had started to the race from the very back of the grid, managed to gain two positions right away. The Dutchman seemed determined to climb up the pack position by position. By lap eight, Max had already made his way up to P14.

Hamilton was the first driver in trouble with the hyper-soft tyres, and the Briton pitted already on lap 13. He switched to the purple-marked ultra-soft compound. At this point it really seemed, that Hamilton was on a two-stop strategy, as the early pit stop would have meant driving 60 laps on the ultra-softs, had the Briton been on a one-stopper! Hamilton re-joined the track in P6. Sebastian pitted three laps later, opting for the ultra-soft compound as well. The German Ferrari ace re-joined the track in P3, ahead of Bottas. The race leader Ricciardo pitted as well, for a fresh set of ultra-soft Pirellis and re-joined the track in the lead. Both Finns drove into the pits, too. Kimi opted for the ultra-soft compound, similar to his teammate. Bottas, however, switched to the red-marked super-soft rubber, after struggling massively on the softest compound. After re-joining the track, Bottas' pace on the fresh super-softs was extremely convincing and he was rapidly closing the gap to Hamilton and Kimi.

Around the halfway point of the race, Ricciardo was suddenly hit with a technical issue, and the Australian was losing power. Sebastian had closed the gap to Ricciardo, making it within DRS distance from the "Smiling Avenger". However, overtaking in Monaco is extremely difficult, even though the driver ahead of you has technical issues! In spite of Ricciardo´s technical woes Sebastian was unable to make a move on the race leader Ricciardo.

Verstappen pitted after completing 45 laps on the ultra-softs, and re-joined the track in P11. Ricciardo's pace in the lead left a lot to hope for, and his teammate was four seconds a lap faster on his fresh hyper-softs! With 25 laps to go, the top five drivers were all within five seconds! Verstappen was driving a brilliant race with no mistakes. He had a tight battle with Renault's Sainz for P9, the Dutchman finally getting the upper hand on the Spaniard.

The most dramatic moment of the race happened six laps before the chequered flag. Sauber's Leclerc was suddenly hit with a brake failure, which made the Monegasque to crash into Hartley's Toro Rosso. The crash destroyed the New Zealander's rear wing, and both drivers were out of the race. Virtual safety car was deployed. In spite of the virtual safety car, the top drivers stayed out despite their extremely worn tyres.

Virtual safety car ended with five laps to go. Ricciardo pulled out a five-second gap to Sebastian, who was struggling badly with his out-worn tyres. The Australian got his redemption, as he crossed the finish line as the race winner for the first time in Monaco! Sebastian finished the runner-up, with Hamilton completing the podium. It was amazing, that Hamilton was able to make the one-stop strategy work. Kimi finished fourth and Bottas fifth; this was the first time this season, that there were no Finns on the podium. Ocon finished stunning sixth for Force India, and Gasly made it a brilliant P7 for Toro Rosso. Renault's Hulkenberg, Red Bull's Verstappen and Renault's Sainz rounded out the top ten. Finishing in the points was an excellent result for Max, who had had a catastrophic Saturday due to the mistake of his own.

Sebastian decreased the gap to Hamilton in the drivers' championship standings, but by three points only. Hamilton now has 110 points to Sebastian's 96. Thanks to his victory, Ricciardo moved third with 72 points. Bottas is fourth with 68 points and Kimi fifth with 60 points. Mercedes' lead shrank into 22 points in the constructors' standings. With Ricciardo's superb win, Red Bull strengthened their position as the third best team.

Two weeks ago in Barcelona Mercedes was the team to beat. In Monaco the tables turned again, and Red Bull was the dominating team. In a fortnight the F1 circus will move to Canada. What might be the pecking order of the top teams at Montreal? Hopefully it will be the start of the season-lasting red empire!

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