R ed Bull had the fastest car on the streets of Monaco. The RB14 is without a doubt the racing car with the most downforce in the field. Daniel Ricciardo decided all practice sessions and all qualifying parts for himself. After winning the start, everything looked like an easy win for the Australian. Especially since he broke away from pursuer Sebastian Vettel from the 12th round. Just at the moment when the third placed Lewis Hamilton stopped. Within three laps, the lead on Vettel grew from 1.9 to 3.6 seconds. Vettel's pit stop on lap 16 was countered by Red Bull one lap later. After that there was equality of arms again on the tire side.
Vettel shortened, but Ricciardo checked. Until the 26th round. Then suddenly there was panic in the Red Bull camp. 'I stepped on the accelerator and it felt as if only half the power was there,' said Ricciardo. The MGU-K refused to work. This is the part of the hybrid system that feeds kinetic energy into the batteries when towing. And when accelerating 163 additional horsepower contributed. For the moment, Red Bull even thought about giving up. 'The engineers reported concerns that the engine could be affected,' said team boss Christian Horner. “I gave the order to continue. In Monaco you don't just give up when you're in the lead. ”
Ricciardo would have been an easy victim on any other track on the Grand Prix calendar with just the power of the combustion engine. But not on the slowest and narrowest course of the year. The Australian mastered the task brilliantly. Although in the meantime he slipped into high 1:19 lap times. By way of comparison: He drove his fastest race lap on lap 13 in 1: 15.562 minutes. The 28-year-old did not allow himself a weakness. Ricciardo took care of the engine, tires and brakes. And at the same time about the safety distance to Vettel. 'Every lap in which the problems didn't get worse was like a small win.' Red Bull instructed the Australian to shift up to sixth gear at the most. That had nothing to do with damage to the transmission. 'We told him that he gets most of the power from the engine in the lower gears.'
The problems were big. It wasn't just a lack of performance. Without the MGU-K, which practically 'brakes' during the braking process, they threatenedrear brake discs overheat. Remember the 2014 Canadian GP. At that time, the MGU-Ks got out of both Mercedes and the rear brakes in Lewis Hamilton's car overheated. Which threw him out of the running. Nico Rosberg had to slow down and Ricciardo won.
Before the brakes caught fire, Ricciardo adjusted the brake balance. “I went up six or seven percent. You normally adjust them by one or two percent in the race. ”Despite all the adversities, he struggled to win. The reward was the first victory in Monte Carlo. And the jump to third place in the drivers' world championship.Why did Vettel fall away in the end?
Sebastian Vettel desperately behind Ricciardo. The Australian never let the Heppenheimer get close enough to attempt an overtaking attempt. “I've had DRS a couple of times. Unfortunately the straights are too short. He always built up enough buffers in the three bends in front of the tunnel. ”
The rear-end collision between Charles Leclerc and Brendon Hartley caused Ricciardo to briefly worry. “A safety car would have made me vulnerable when restarting. But I think I would have kept Sebastian behind me with a clean final corner. ”The announced VSC phase played more on the Australian's side. Vettel's tires were already worn out. The Ferrari star did not manage to keep the temperature in the ultrasofts at a slow pace. When the race management called Green, the World Cup runner-up slid around the corners on cold tires. “Unfortunately I still had Vandoorne in front of my nose. It took a while to get past him. After that I didn't want to do stupid things. It was a bit of a shame that I couldn't keep up the pressure to the end. ”How was it with Mercedes?
Monaco is the one Silver arrows simply no longer. After all, the world championship team cushioned the defeat a little this year. Positions three for Hamilton and five for Bottas are probably called maximum damage limitation. Without Max Verstappen's accident in the third training session, no podium would have jumped out. The reason why it is so difficult on street circuits is still not known. Is it the long wheelbase? The mechanical balance? Or the aerodynamics concept? “With all the science, we don't know why our car doesn't turn corners on street circuits,” said team boss Toto Wolff. After all, the drivers reported much better driving behavior than last year.
The Mercedes W09 ran its tires harder than the competing products. Graining was a bigger issue than it was at Red Bull and Ferrari. “We had to stop so early with Lewis because otherwise the tires would have blown his ears,” reported Wolff. There was also the fear that Kimi would have wiped Raikkonen with an undercut. The world champion drove as slowly as somehowpossible. The harder ultrasofts could also be used. “After two laps the graining started again. It spread over two thirds of the tread. I could watch it closely from the cockpit. ”Why did the Pirellis tend to grain at all? 'Because the tires are one step softer than 2017. The Supersoft corresponds to the Ultrasoft from 2017. And with the Hypersoft we are even softer,' explained Pirelli's sports director Mario Isola.
Because Ricciardo had technical problems, Hamilton moved closer to the top duo anyway. At times, only three seconds separated him from the third Monaco victory. In the last quarter of the race it fell off again. 'He realized that there was simply no coming,' said Wolff. In retrospect, tactically it might have been smarter to equip Hamilton with the super soft tires. But Mercedes feared that Hamilton would not be able to heat the rubbers quickly enough. At least that was the case in the training sessions. But the cooler asphalt temperatures of around 33 degrees were beneficial for the supersoft adhesive. As seen on Valtteri Bottas. The Finn closed the gap to Raikkonen in no time at all. Then it was the end of the line. 'Although I could have driven 1.5 seconds faster.'How did Verstappen get points?
Verstappen had made the soup himself. Because of the accident in training. In the race, the 20-year-old was wiser. He got through without accidents or collisions. At the start, the Dutchman grabbed the two HaasF1s. Later also Marcus Ericsson, Lance Stroll and Brendon Hartley. He then gained positions through strategy. The ultra-soft tires carried him up to the 47th round. On the 57th lap, Verstappen squeezed past Sainz. With the advantage of hypersofts. Nico Hülkenberg failed to catch up. The result: ninth place.