Two years ago Ricciardo was shattered when a botched pit stop cost him an almost-sure victory in Monaco. This year there were no such mistakes but there was an engine problem that cost him power down the straights.
The Aussie continued his trend of maintaining his start position through the opening lap as he led off the line, fending off Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton was the first of the front-runners to pit, coming in on lap 12 to switch from hypersoft to ultrasoft tyres. He came out behind Esteban Ocon in P6 but passed the Force India three laps later.
Vettel came in from second place on lap 16, four seconds down on Ricciardo at the time, and re-emerged in third, ahead of the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who had yet to pit, and Hamilton.
Ricciardo was in a lap later, swapping his hypers for ultras. He returned to the track in the lead as Raikkonen pitted with Bottas also coming in.
After the stops, Ricciardo led by 2.8s over Vettel followed by Hamilton, Raikkonen and Bottas. The latter was on a set of supersoft tyres to his rivals’ ultrasoft.
Whether through babysitting tyres or less pace than Ferrari, Vettel began to eat into Ricciardo’s lead and cut the gap to 1.4s before the Aussie began to build it up again.
On lap 28 of 78, Ricciardo reported a loss of power to the team. Despite being 20kph slower than his rivals through the speed trap after having lost use of the MGU-K, he maintained a gap of between one and two seconds over second-placed Sebastian Vettel.
Meanwhile, Raikkonen sat on Hamilton’s tail while Bottas, having been almost six seconds down, closed up on the Ferrari. The trio, fighting for P3, were separated by less than three seconds.
Ricciardo continued to lead while Vettel complained about a display issue from his steering wheel, and Hamilton struggled with tyre management. Despite the latter’s troubles he began to close the gap to Vettel, who in turn got within a second of Ricciardo.
Fernando Alonso became the race’s first as he parked his McLaren at Sainte Devote on lap 53 with a gearbox problem.
The final 20 laps saw Ricciardo, Vettel and Hamilton running within four seconds of one another but none seemed able to attack the car in front.
There was late drama as Charles Leclerc, competing in his first home race, shunted into the back of Brendon Hartley as he exited the tunnel. The Sauber driver’s left front brake let go in a puff of smoke and he could do nothing to prevent the impact. Both retired.
With the Virtual Safety Car deployed the gap between the leaders shrunk and offered the hope of some overtaking in a dash for the line, yet Vettel took several laps at the restart to recover his prior pace, which helped Ricciardo to pull clear.
Ricciardo held on to win his first Monaco Grand Prix by seven seconds ahead of his former teammate. Hamilton dropped off in the final ten laps but still completed the podium. Raikkonen was fourth ahead of Bottas.
— Badger GP (@BadgerGP) May 27, 2018
Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg, all of whom ran long opening stints, with the Renault driver going 50 laps on his first set of tyres, finished P6, P7 and P9 respectively.
Verstappen’s recovery from P20 and last on the grid to an eventual P9 hinged on starting on an extended opening stint. He did not pit until lap 48 and was the fastest car on the track in the closing stages.
Sergey Sirotkin’s race was undone even before the start as his wheels were not fitted prior to the three-minute signal. He was hit with a ten-second stop-go penalty.
Williams’ woes were compounded when Stroll pitted on lap 10 for a new front wing and tyres having suffered a front left puncture in contact with a Sauber. Stroll suffered a second tyre issue later in the race and was forced to pit again. They finished P16 and 17.
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 27, 2018