Daniel Ricciardo battled engine issues and soaked up race-long pressure from Sebastian Vettel to score a superb Monaco Grand Prix win ahead of the Ferrari driver and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
The Australian, who led away from pole position, developed a power issue midway through the race and after being told by his team that the problem could not be rectified, he delivered a superb defensive drive to claim his seventh career win and his first in Monaco.
The victory makes up for 2016 when the Red Bull driver lost out on victory in the Principality due a botched pit stop that dropped him to second place.
At the race start, Ricciardo made a clean getaway and despite a brief attack from Vettel he held his advantage to lead through Ste Devote ahead of the German and Hamilton. Meanwhile, at the back of the grid, Max Verstappen made a good start and swiftly cleared the Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean to hold P18 at the end of the opening tour.
The Dutchman then worked has way past Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and began to close on Williams’ Lance Stroll. He made light work of passing the Canadian down the inside into the Nouvelle Chicance on lap seven. The next move was past Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley, putting Verstappen into 14th place before the start of lap nine.
At the front, Ricciardo eked out a 2.5s gap to Vettel, but then on lap 12 Hamilton pitted for ultrasoft tyres, emerging in P6 behind Force India’s Esteban Ocon. The Mercedes driver passed the Frenchman soon after and then began to chase after the leaders, 28s behind Ricciardo. Vettel was next in, taking on ultrasofts and then, on lap 17, Ricciardo pitted from the lead. He also took ultrasofts. Further back, Verstappen was still making his way through the field, eventually working his way to P11 behind McLaren’s Fernando Alonso who had pitted for supersofts.
By the end of lap 25, Ricciardo had a 1.7s lead over Vettel, while Hamilton was now 8.6s off the lead. Raikkonen had closed to 1.2 behind Hamilton, with Bottas 6.0s behind his fellow Finn.
Vettel then began to close on the leader and by lap 30 he was just 0.7s behind Ricciardo. The Red Bull driver soon reported a loss of power and as the situation unfolded the Australian asked his team whether the situation would improve. His race engineer’s response was a swift negative. Ricciardo was now in a position where he would have to defend for more than 40 laps. Vettel quickly looked to attack, but as the Australian protected his lead the German’s tyres began to grain and he had to back off.
Behind the leading pair, Hamilton began to increase his pace, sensing that the slow laps being put in by the front pair could signal an opportunity. Further back, Bottas began to close on fourth-placed Raikkonen. The top end of the order now began to bunch up and on lap 45 the leading five cars were separated by just eight seconds.
Further back, Verstappen finally made his sole pit stop at the end of lap 48, taking on hypersofts for a late race push to the flag. He emeged in P11, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley and 10 seconds behind Renault’s Carlos Sainz. Verstappen’s situation improved when Fernando Alonso retired with a geabox issue.
That promoted Verstappen to P10 behind the Hulkenberg who had dropped behind Sainz after making a pit stop. When Sainz allowed his team-mate past, Verstappen closed on the Spaniard and after Sainz cut the chicane, the Red Bull driver swept past to take P9.
Ahead, on lap 60, Vettel was still pushing, looking for a way to attack Ricciardo, but the Australian was controlling his defence with aplomb and the gap remained steady at around one second. Hamilton’s charge appeared to have ended as he fell 2.9s behind Vettel, while Raikkonen was a further 2.6 back in fourth place.
Verstappen, though, was still trying to make progress and with 13 laps remaining he had reeled in Hulkenberg, who in turn had caught up with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.
There was late drama when local hero Charles Leclerc crashed into the back of Hartley’s Toro Rosso, but with Leclerc sliding up the escape road and Hartley able to limp to the pits, it was only cause for the Virtual Safety Car to be deployed.
And as the caution came to an end, Vettel dropped right back, settling for second place, seven seconds behind the Australian. Hamilton, too, nursed his car to the finish, finishing almost 10 seconds behind Vettel.
Fourth place went to Raikkonen, with Bottas fifth and Force India’s Esteban sixth. Gasly drove superbly to hold onto seventh ahead of Hulkenberg and Verstappen and the final point went to Sainz.
2018 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix – Race
1 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 7.336
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 17.013
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 18.127
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 18.822
6 Esteban Ocon Force India 23.667
7 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 24.331
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 24.839
9 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 25.317
10 Carlos Sainz Renault 1’09.013
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1’09.864
12 Sergio Perez Force India 1’10.461
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1’14.823
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1 lap
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1 lap
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1 lap
17 Lance Stroll Williams 2 laps
Charles Leclerc Sauber 8 laps
Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 8 laps
Fernando Alonso McLaren 26 laps