Ailing Daniel Ricciardo holds on for Monaco 'redemption'

Race winner Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB14 celebrates Monaco Grand Prix victory
© XPB 

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo overcame chronic power issues to claim victory in the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix from pole position. It's his seventh win in Formula 1 - the second of 2018 - and his first at Monaco after coming so close in 2016.

He finished seven seconds ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who managed to hold off his title rival Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes. Both had struggled with tyre graining issues on ultrasoft tyres during the afternoon.

Monaco Grand Prix - Race result

1Daniel RicciardoRed Bull78 laps - 1:42:54.807s1
2Sebastian VettelFerrari+ 7.336s1
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes+ 17.013s1
4Kimi RäikkönenFerrari+ 18.127s1
5Valtteri BottasMercedes+ 18.822s1
6Esteban OconForce India+ 23.667s1
7Pierre GaslyToro Rosso+ 24.331s1
8Nico HülkenbergRenault+ 24.839s1
9Max VerstappenRed Bull+ 25.317s1
10Carlos SainzRenault+ 69.013s1
11Marcus EricssonSauber+ 69.864s1
12Sergio PérezForce India+ 70.461s1
13Kevin MagnussenHaas+ 74.823s1
14Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren+ 1 lap2
15Romain GrosjeanHaas+ 1 lap2
16Sergey SirotkinWilliams+ 1 lap3
17Lance StrollWilliams+ 2 laps3
18Charles LeclercSauberDNF1
19Brendon HartleyToro RossoDNF2
20Fernando AlonsoMcLarenDNF1

A pre-race sprinkling of rain drops had sent a frisson up and down the grid before the start of the Monaco Grand Prix. Conditions remained cloudy, but when the moment came for the lights to go out and the cars to launch into Sainte Devote for the first time, the track was dry and there was no holding back.

Fresh from his devastating pole position lap on Saturday, Daniel Ricciardo pulled off a text book start to retain the lead from Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, with Kimi Raikkonen comfortably holding off Valtteri Bottas for fourth place.

The rest of the top ten similarly maintained position. There were some predictable skirmishes further back down the field, with Brendon Hartley reporting damage to his front wing albeit not bad enough to force him into an early pit stop.

At the back, Max Verstappen took an early opportunity to pass both Haas cars into the first corner. He followed that up a few minutes later with a move on Sauber's Marcus Ericsson at Mirabeau, and then dispatched Lance Stroll into the Nouvelle Chicane on lap 8. He then also swiftly put Hartley to the sword.

Verstappen was handed another position when Stroll's Williams team mate Sergey Sirotkin served a ten second stop-go penalty for not having his tyres fitted in time on the grid. Stoll ended up following Sirotkin into the pits a few minutes later after suffering a front-left puncture and front wing damage from inadvertently rear-ending Ericsson.

Already unhappy with the graining on his initial set of hypersoft tyres, Hamilton was first to pull the pin on race strategy by pitting for ultrasofts on lap 12, feeding back out in sixth place just behind Esteban Ocon. Hamilton swiftly navigated his way around the Force India.

Monaco Grand Prix - Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB14 leads

In response to Mercedes' ploy, the top three picked up the pace which allowed Vettel to pit on lap 16 and come back out ahead of both Silver Arrows. Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Bottas were all in next time by. It was a slick stop for the Red Bull, with no repeat of the fumble that memorably lost Ricciardo certain victory here in 2016. He rejoined in the lead ahead of Vettel and Hamilton, with Raikkonen back out in fourth.

Bottas had slipped to seventh behind Ocon and Fernando Alonso, having opted for supersofts rather than ultras. When Alonso made his own stop next time by, he too went for the hardest of the Pirelli compounds on offer this weekend. His McLaren team mate Stoffel Vandoorne followed the trend a few minutes later.

A radio transmission from Verstappen about problems with downshifts on his car sent a jolt of alarm through the Red Bull pit wall. But then a call from Ricciardo about a loss of engine power on the leading RB14 raised the situation to a full-blown crisis. The Aussie was indeed noticeably slower, the car's MGU-K seemingly struggling to harvest battery power.

All the while, Vettel was lining up to pounce. However, he was also starting to suffer with graining on the ultrasofts, as was Hamilton in third place. It was starting to look as though fifth-place Bottas' call for supersofts had been the right one, although ironically Pierre Gasly was lapping faster on his original set of hypersoft tyres in sixth place than the leaders.

The Toro Rosso finally made its solitary stop of the day on lap 38. Gasly took a new set of supersofts and came back out in tenth place behind Verstappen, who was one of the few drivers getting both speed and distance out of the ultras. The Dutch driver finally made his pit stop on lap 48, changing to hypers for a high-speed charge to the finish. Renault's Nico Hulkenberg did even better, lasting to lap 51 before becoming the final driver of the day to pit. He came back out in tenth, just ahead of the Red Bull.

Moments later, Gasly, Hulkenberg and team mate Carlos Sainz together with Verstappen were all promoted up a place by the exit from the race of Alonso from seventh place. The MCL33 suffered an abrupt gearbox failure on lap 54 which forced him to pull off at turn 1, making Alonso the first retirement of the race. The stricken car was quickly removed without interfering with the tense battle at the front, where just six seconds covered the top five cars thanks to Ricciardo's compromised pace backing everyone up.

Verstappen soon improved to ninth place with an untidy pass on Sainz at the chicane on lap 58. Now in free air, he was soon the fastest man on track as he hunted down Hulkenberg who was preoccupied trying to find a way past Gasly. This pack was closing fast on Ocon in sixth, and even Bottas in fifth place was slowly being hauling into range. The close running meant that any window for the leaders to stage a late pit stop quickly slammed shut: everyone would have to make their current tyres last to the finish after all.

Proceedings were briefly interrupted on lap 73 when local hero Charles Leclerc found himself unable to brake in time exiting the tunnel into turn 10. He slammed into the back of Hartley's Toro Rosso, sending a shower of debris across the track. As both cars retired from the race, marshalls scrambled to clear up under a brief Virtual Safety Car. The race was back underway a lap later.

That brief respite seemed to have given Ricciardo the boost he needed to be sure of making it to the finish despite his engine issues. Vettel's tyres had nothing left in them and the Ferrari nearly squirmed into the barriers at the restart before he gathered things back together. Hamilton meanwhile was now ten seconds back and had to be content with third place ahead of Raikkonen and Bottas.

Ocon took sixth ahead of Gasly and Hulkenberg, with Verstappen claiming ninth ahead of Sainz after starting form the back of the grid. Ericsson narrowly mised out on points in 11th.

The 2018 Monaco Grand Prix podium

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