Formula 1: Revisiting Daniel Ricciardo’s Iconic Monaco GP Win in 2018
Two years after he was denied a victory because of a late pit stop, the Austrian wrote his name into history books with a fascinating drive.
Mostly, Formula 1 drivers lack a sense of on-screen charm or fail to come across as entertainers. But contrary to that notion, the sport’s resident Honey Badger is one bubbly character. The fans have certainly missed seeing more of Daniel Ricciardo this season. After his time at McLaren concluded, the Aussie elected to rejoin Red Bull Racing as a third driver for the 2023 F1 season.
Except for racing, Ricciardo has been seen throughout PR activities, assisting simulator sessions and aiding in factory work. He is lingering around while attending race weekends. All these diminished rounds reflect rather poorly on our memory of him.
The next destination for F1’s traveling circus across Europe starts from the principality- Monaco itself. Every F1 driver dreams about winning at least once in the Circuit de Monaco.
Alongside an exceptional location of glamour and prestige, it’s also a challenging track to master. The 2.074 miles street circuit has very little room for overtaking, and drivers rely on their finishes mostly from the positions they qualify in on Saturday.
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Revisiting a tormenting Daniel Ricciardo experience, Monaco GP 2016
Daniel Ricciardo’s status as the crème de la crème of racing was cemented at Monaco when despite domination, victory slipped right through his grasp in 2016. It was not because he made a mistake but because the Red Bull pit crew failed him at a critical time.
An ever-jovial face turned gloomy. The Australian was rightfully disgruntled. After securing a pole on Saturday, the efforts ended in vain. P2 meant nothing in terms of consolation when winning F1’s crown jewel was so close.
But in peculiar sporting redemption fashion, the brilliance of the then-Red Bull driver was again prevalent in 2018. This time it was much more personal. It was about banishing his demons from the last two years when fate played a cruel tune on his misfortunes.
Exorcising Ricciardo’s demons, Monaco 2018
Ricciardo was adamant about conquering the principality to live amongst the legends. Keeping things in his control, he did everything. Quickest driver throughout practice, and then Ricciardo was again untouchable in qualifying. Everyone hoped for his turnaround.
On Sunday, Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari was in second, and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes started in third. Everything was hunky-dory, as Ricciardo controlled the pack. However, tragedy stuck on lap 28 when a power problem made it impossible for the Aussie to use seventh and eighth gears.
In any other track, that would have been the tragic end. But a driver with an extraordinary skill set could have still pulled it off in the streets of Monaco if he was leading the race. To add insult to injuries, Ricciardo was on a mandatory one-stop strategy which meant that he had to adjust his brake balance forward and needed to manage after his tires.
Against the tide, a memorable finish
For the next 50 laps, without any help from the Red Bull engineers, the Honey Badger drove with conviction in a state of absolute perfection. A single misstep would have ensured Vettel’s advantage to come into play with a high-functioning power unit.
On the occasion of Red Bull’s 250th grand prix, Ricciardo made the headlines after leaving no room for errors with an intense flawless drive. He eventually finished P1 in exquisite fashion. Team principal, Christian Horner, drew close comparisons of that drive against Michael Schumacher’s incredible second place at Barcelona in 1994, where the German had to endure similar issues limiting himself to the fifth gear for most of his race.
Now, whenever fans look back at the past winners of Monaco, they can fondly cherish the story that became a fairytale. Ricciardo was on the verge of accepting the cruel nature of his fate and conceding another fantastic weekend with a broken heart, but he pushed on to emerge triumphant, showing his heart on his sleeves.
We hope the resident Honey Badger finds a seat soon because he is still too good to be on Red Bull’s PR duties.
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