Heartbreaking Pit Stop Disaster Costs Red Bull Monaco Win
Daniel Ricciardo: "I've been screwed"
Formula 1 teams spend weeks preparing for the Monaco Grand Prix. The race is singular, in its close quarters and low speeds, and it demands a one-off setup. Unique gearing and different aero, and a totally new strategy. Then, it starts raining like crazy, the grid runs the first dozen laps at parade speed behind a safety car, and all that preparation goes to hell. A total free-for-all follows.
At least, that's what happened at this year’s Grand Prix. Starting from pole, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo pulled away early. Championship leader Nico Rosberg of Mercedes-AMG, hampered by braking issues, fell back. The team radioed in, giving orders for Rosberg to let teammate Lewis Hamilton around. As the track dried, everybody scampered to swap rain tires for intermediate rubber. Ricciardo, still leading, pulled into the pits. Except the Red Bull crew wasn't ready. Here, a painful image: Ricciardo, stranded on jack stands, waiting for tires that aren't there as precious seconds burn.
Hamilton jumped in front. By the halfway point, Monaco was a four-horse race. Hamilton leading, Ricciardo giving chase, followed by the Force India of Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, all within a ten-second gap.
And that's how they finished, but not after a controversial call that saw Hamilton go unpenalized for blocking Ricciardo coming out of The Tunnel. The rain, the wrecks, the dogfights—consider it proof that Monaco at its best is as good as F1 gets.
Other notes: Max Versteppen, the surprise race winner in Spain, made a run from the back of the grid but crashed out. Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button finished fifth and ninth respectively, a clutch double-points finish for McLaren-Honda. Rosberg nabbed seventh, despite those braking issues. The American Haas team just missed out on points, as Esteban Gutierrez came in eleventh. His teammate, Romain Grosjean, couldn't bounce back from an early incident with Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari, finishing thirteenth. Oh, and Sauber teammates Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson also had a minor spat, then wrecked into one another out of frustration. Not good.
Still, the big story here is the Red Bull pit stop calamity. “I don't even want to comment on the race, to be honest,” Ricciardo said afterward, allowing only the he'd "been screwed."
With the win, Hamilton moves within striking distance of Rosberg in the points standings. Plenty to dissect in the coming weeks. The Canadian Grand Prix is June 12.