We look at the winners and losers at the Monaco GP. This is a unique race with glitz and glamour associated with it. The 2018 race was termed “boring” by Lewis Hamilton. The two leaders in the drivers’ title race, Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, got the points on the board and neither of them gained or lost too much.
Monaco GP – Winners
The star of the whole weekend was this man without a doubt. Topped every session of the weekend and took pole comfortably. The ever-smiling Australian finally won the Monaco GP. After being on the podium three times before, including the near miss in 2016, this first win was a popular one.
Ricciardo led the way, but lost significant power during the race because his MGU-K stopped working. He could use only six of the eight gears available. But he handled the situation with nerves of steel and held on for a tenacious win. Same number of wins (2), as Hamilton and Vettel in the six races so far. Third in the drivers’ championship, Ricciardo is on the march.
Ricciardo said:”Two years in the making this. I finally feel like the redemption has arrived. We had problems. I don’t know how much the [team] radio broadcast. We had a lot to deal with during the race. Before half way, I felt a loss of power and I thought the race was done. We got home just using six gears. Thanks to the team, we got it back. So I’m stoked. There was a few doubts that came in mid race. We won Monaco. It feels good.”
Force India struggled at the start of the season. But the updates to the car in recent races has moved them forward. Sergio Perez finished on the podium in Baku. Ocon had scored one solitary point and DNF-ed in the last two races. An impressive qualification saw him start sixth and he finished there. Ocon’s race pace in the second stint saw him reduce the gap to Valtteri Bottas significantly. With the team improving with every race, Ocon has a lot to look forward to in the coming races.
Another Frenchman who continues to impress. Gasly started P10 and finished in seventh position in Monaco. This was a repeat of his impressive performance in Bahrain where he finished fourth. He is now 11th in the drivers’ championship ahead of the Force India drivers. He has outclassed his teammate Brendon Hartley. Gasly qualifies well and has been impressive in race trim.
Red Bull Racing
The 250th Grand Prix for this team ended in a most satisfying win. The pace shown by both their drivers during all the sessions was impressive. The high downforce RB14 excelled at this twisty track in Monaco. They were expected to beat Mercedes and Ferrari and they delivered.
It would have been a more comprehensive victory if Max Verstappen had also been on the podium. 57 wins, 59 poles, four drivers’ titles and four constructors’ titles now for this Milton Keynes-based squad. They have to make a crucial decision on their engine suppliers within the next few weeks. They will hope that they can continue to improve with every race.
The 4th place finisher in the last two years did not start the season well. They were languishing at the back of the grid. But this team, known for punching above its weight, has started working its way back. The Silverstone-based team is now in sixth position in the constructors’ championship. The unexpected podium finish for Sergio Perez in Baku started the comeback. Ocon’s sixth position in the qualification and race here confirmed it. They will hope to keep the upward graph going in the races ahead.
Both drivers, Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz, scored points. The team opened up the lead over McLaren to six points. Now Renault is firmly in 4th place and “best of the rest” in the constructors’ championship.
There is still a lot of scope for improvement as Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director, said: “It’s been a mixed weekend. The overall result is good; two cars in the points and a good cushion in fourth in the championship. But a race like this one exposes more of our weaknesses. Despite the fact it is a much better result than last year in Monaco, we were not as competitive as recent races and more work needs to be done on tyre management and understanding this.”
Monaco GP – Losers
Started last on the grid and was able to make it to P9 in the race. The heavy crash in FP3 meant he could not take part in qualification. His teammate controlled the race from the front to score his second victory of the season. As the errors keep mounting race after race, the pressure is ramping up on this young driver.
If he had put in a controlled performance like Ricciardo, a win or second position was there for the taking. It must be galling to see his teammate move to third in the drivers’ championship, even as he languishes in sixth place, with less than 50% of the points compared to his teammate.
Alonso did not finish, but it was not his fault. Last year, he missed the Monaco GP to participate in the Indy 500. A blown engine in the last laps scuttled his chances of a win then. It was no better this year as a gearbox issue ended his race in Monaco. The Spaniard qualified well in P7 and was running in the points. This was Alonso’s first non-point scoring race of the season. Race after race he hauls the car into the points. His last race win was in Spain in 2013 and last podium was in Hungary in 2014. It has been a long wait for Alonso to get back to winning ways.
Hartley’s race ended when Charles Leclerc rammed into him due to a brake failure. But it was not a happy race until that point. The Kiwi suffered front wing damage in the first lap. He qualified well behind his teammate at P16. Hartley has scored one point in 2018 and is being outperformed by his teammate. The pressure is ramping up with each race and he needs to deliver soon.
This team has not maximized their potential so far and had the worst race of the season. The team was forced to remove fragile bargeboard parts as it was falling off on the track. This affected the downforce of the car on a track that demands high downforce. Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen qualified P15 and P19 respectively. Grosjean’s three-place grid penalty pushed him further back. Things did not get any better in the race as both drivers finished outside the points. The team is now languishing in 8th position in the constructors’ championship.
Much was expected of the Woking-based team in Monaco. The car is well-suited for this high downforce track. But the team came away with no points and Alonso did not finish the race. The other Renault-powered teams, Red Bull and Renault, outperformed them in the race. The Renault engine was supposed to put McLaren in direct competition with Red Bull. But the team is languishing in the midfield and has to answer a lot of questions during the rest of the season.
Embed from Getty Images