Dario Franchitti

Honda still confident despite another Pole Day drubbing

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As bad as today was for Honda — who had none of their cars make the Fast Nine shootout for the Indianapolis 500 pole — it’s not the end of the world. After all, the manufacturer only had one car in the Fast Nine last year yet rallied on Race Day to secure a 1-2 finish courtesy of Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti (pictured) and Scott Dixon.

With that in mind, Honda Performance Development technical director Roger Griffiths vowed that his camp will be ready to battle engine rival Chevrolet in next Sunday’s race.

“Obviously, we come here to do our best and we came here shooting for the pole, and we’re a little bit down on the speeds from where we need to be,” Griffiths told NBC Sports Network’s Robin Miller during this afternoon’s proceedings. “But what everybody remembers is who won the race and we’ve got a pretty good record of winning here. We’re hoping that come next Sunday, we’ll be the ones drinking the milk and lifting the trophy.

“It’s frustrating and I can only sympathize [with the Honda-powered drivers]. We’re all racers, we all want to go fast. The guys back in California have been working hard and we just have to knuckle down and keep going. But you know, it’s a tough day but we rise on these occasions. We keep fighting. That’s what we did last year and that’s what we plan to do next weekend as well.”

Barracuda-BHA’s Alex Tagliani was the top Honda driver, placing 11th on the grid with a four-lap average of 227.386 miles per hour. Chevrolet-powered drivers claimed the first 10 positions, with pole sitter Ed Carpenter leading a mix of the entire Andretti Autosport and Team Penske squads as well as J.R. Hildebrand from Panther Racing in that block of spots.

As for Franchitti and Dixon, Honda’s heroes from one year ago, they’ll start 16th and 17th respectively — well within striking distance of the front on Race Day even with their manufacturer’s problems this afternoon.

Perez elated by Monaco podium, hails Force India tire calls

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 29: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Force India celebrates on the podium during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 29, 2016 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
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Sergio Perez produced one of the stand-out performances of Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix to score his third podium finish for the team and the fourth in its history.

Perez started seventh in Monaco, but rose to third once all of the drivers had made the switch to slick tires after jumping Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg in the pit stops.

The Mexican managed his tires well in the second half of the race and even looked capable of claiming a shock victory at one point.

Ultimately, he had to settle for third behind Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo, but was delighted with the result.

“I’m extremely happy because my team has done a tremendous job with the strategy, with the calls, with the pit stops,” Perez said.

“It’s been an amazing day for us, my their podium with the team, a special one to have in Monaco, especially in these race conditions.

“I want to dedicate this podium to our boss, Vijay Mallya. He has been very supportive during these times, and I really want to dedicate this one to him.”

Perez praised the strategy calls made by the Force India pit wall that gave him the chance to keep the faster Ferrari back.

“I think we did the right calls, I think the best tire for us was the softs at the end,” Perez said.

“I was controlling the pace in the beginning. Seb had a lot of pace, he was a lot faster than us.

“I think I was saving my tires. When I needed to push I had the tire left.

“It was an amazing race with all the calls and everything. I’m extremely happy.”

Ricciardo feels “screwed” after Red Bull pit error costs him Monaco win

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Daniel Ricciardo felt “screwed” after a pit stop error from his Red Bull team cost him a likely victory in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Ricciardo led the field away from pole position after the start behind the safety car, building a 13 second buffer to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the early stages.

Hamilton took the lead thanks to a long first stint, but was due to run behind Ricciardo once all of the drivers had made the switch to slick tires just before half-distance.

However, Ricciardo was left stranded in his pit box for a number of seconds after a communication error by Red Bull meant his slick tires were not ready in time.

Ricciardo spent most of the remaining laps less than a second behind Hamilton, trying time and time again to pass before eventually dropping back in the final laps.

After a strategy error cost him victory in Spain two weeks ago, the usually-amiable Ricciardo was full of frustration on the podium after the race.

“I don’t even want to comment on the race to be honest,” Ricciardo said.

“Thanks to the fans, thanks for sticking out in this weather. From the outside we put on a show. Shouldn’t have been as exciting as it was to be honest.

“Two weeks in a row now I’ve been screwed, so it sucks. It hurts.”

Ricciardo revealed that it was Red Bull’s call for him to pit at the end of lap 32 and make the switch to super-soft tires

“I was called in the box, I didn’t make the call. I was called,” Ricciardo said.

“They should have been ready. It hurts, it hurts. I don’t have anything else to say to be honest.

“We had the speed in the wet on the start. We pulled away, pitted for inters, and we put ourself in a race with Lewis that we didn’t need to be in.

“Then the pit stop was the pit stop. I felt I was the quickest in all conditions. Second place doesn’t show much for it.”

Hamilton lost for words after second Monaco victory, 44th of career

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 29: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates his win on the podium during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 29, 2016 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton was lost for words on the podium after scoring his second victory in Monaco on Sunday and the 44th of his Formula 1 career.

Hamilton made a risky strategy work in difficult conditions to edge out Daniel Ricciardo in a classic race around the tight streets of Monaco.

The result not only marked the first victory of the season for Hamilton and his 44th in F1 (44 being his car number), but also cut the gap to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship down to 24 points.

“Thank God that today went the way that I hoped,” Hamilton said on the podium after the race.

“Big thank you to all the fans that came out today, really made the weekend, big thank you to my team for providing me with a great car to see it through to the end.

“Honestly, I’m lost for words really. I prayed for a day like this and it came true. I feel truly blessed.”

Hamilton made his ultra-soft tires last 47 laps – almost double the expected life of the compound – to eventually finish seven seconds clear of Ricciardo at the checkered flag.

“I’m telling you that was the longest run, particularly after I stopped for those tires,” Hamilton said.

“It was crazy how long that was and to understand how much you can use the tires, because you don’t know what end they’re going to go.

“I think the last lap was the time they were literally about to drop off, but thank god they stayed on.”

Hamilton took the lead of the race on lap 33 when a communication error at Red Bull left Ricciardo stranded in the pit lane waiting for his slick tires, costing him first place.

Hamilton was full of praise for Ricciardo, who was left bitterly disappointed after seeing the chance for his first Monaco victory pass by.

“Firstly a big congratulations to this guy, he drove phenomenally all weekend,” Hamilton said of Ricciardo.

“Just one of the best drivers I’ve raced against. He did a fantastic job today.

“That was a lot of pressure I was under, it was incredibly close, particularly on the restarts. He did a phenomenal job. I’m looking forward to many more battles with him.

“I’m sure he’s not the happiest because he started on pole, and it’s never good to start on pole and finish second. But he should feel proud of the way he drove.”

Rosberg endured a difficult race, finishing down in seventh place and losing 19 points to Hamilton in the title race as a result.

Although Hamilton is not thinking about the championship race, he admitted that after so many setbacks in 2016, it was nice for things to take a turn for the better.

“I haven’t even thought about that just yet,” Hamilton said when asked about the championship.

“Of course, we’re in the battle, we’re still going. There’s a long, long way to go.

“Just when you feel like it couldn’t get any worse, it gets better.

“I think really the message from today for everyone is never give up.”

Hamilton edges Ricciardo in Monaco classic for first win of F1 season

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 29: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo leads Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer on track during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 29, 2016 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton banished the woes that blighted his start to the 2016 Formula 1 season by producing a career-defining drive to win the Monaco Grand Prix for a second time.

Hamilton started from third on the grid in wet conditions, but made a risky strategy work in the early part of the race to capitalize on a mistake by Red Bull in the pits to pass Daniel Ricciardo for the lead just before half-distance.

Hamilton and Ricciardo then spent the entire second half of the race rarely separated by more than a second, offering a classic battle that Monaco is renowned for.

Ultimately, it was Hamilton who won the fight to pick up his first win of the season and cut the gap to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship to just 24 points.

With rain falling throughout the morning, race control announced with 10 minutes to go before lights out that the safety car would lead the field away, with all drivers required to start on full wet tires. A line began to emerge through the spray after five laps, prompting some to call for the safety car to peel in.

Eventually, race control turn the race to green on lap eight, with Ricciardo leading the field away. However, the race was quickly neutralized once again when Jolyon Palmer crashed out on the main straight, resulting in a Virtual Safety Car.

Once the race returned to green, Ricciardo was able to forge an immediate lead as Rosberg struggled for grip and with his brake temperatures. Mercedes teammate Hamilton continued to hound him for second place, but could not find a way past. With the track continuing to dry, the first drivers were able to make the switch to intermediate tires and began to lap quickly. The leading drivers now had a big strategy call to make.

With Ricciardo now 11 seconds clear at the front, Mercedes called for Rosberg to let Hamilton past so he could cut the gap at the front. The Briton duly pulled out 10 seconds on his teammate in just a handful of laps before Rosberg made the switch, leaving just himself and Ricciardo on the full wet tires after 20 laps.

Ricciardo blinked on lap 23, making the switch to intermediates as the sun began to peek through the clouds, but Hamilton continued on in the hope of extending the stint before the track was ready for slick tires.

Losing grip on his worn wets, Hamilton soon found himself coming under pressure from Ricciardo for the lead. However, he was able to hold the Red Bull driver back as the track continued to dry before pitting from the lead on lap 31, switching to the ultra-soft tire.

Mercedes timed the call perfectly as the majority of the field also pitted on the same lap, making the switch to slick tires. Ricciardo continued to feel his way around on intermediates for one more lap before pitting, only to find his crew still scrambling to get his tires ready. His 20-second lead over the field evaporated, and the Australian emerged from the pits staring at the back of Hamilton’s Mercedes.

Ricciardo was able to close up quickly as he put his super-soft tires to good use, appearing more comfortable on them in the early phase of the restart. After a brief cool-down period under the Virtual Safety Car after Max Verstappen crashed out, Ricciardo latched onto the back of Hamilton once again going through the tunnel, forcing Hamilton into a mistake at the Nouvelle Chicane. The Briton pushed Ricciardo towards the wall on exit, prompting Ricciardo to raise his hand in anger and vent over the radio to his Red Bull engineers.

All the while, Force India’s Sergio Perez found himself coming into play at the front. Both he and Sebastian Vettel had jumped Rosberg in the pit stops on the soft compound tire, meaning they did not have to make another stop. If Hamilton and Ricciardo could not make their softer – and therefore less durable – tires last until the end of the race, Perez and Vettel were waiting to capitalize.

Hamilton was able to open up a two second lead in the laps that followed his near run-in with Ricciardo, with the stewards deeming their clash not worthy of any disciplinary action. Ricciardo now knew that if he wanted to win the Monaco Grand Prix, he’d have to pass Hamilton on-track.

Another Virtual Safety Car was called with 28 laps to go after Sauber teammates Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr collided at La Rascasse, allowing Ricciardo to close up on Hamilton once again. With traffic also coming into play, Ricciardo lined up a move at the exit of the tunnel once again, only to be blocked off and forced to bide his time.

Hamilton had to manage his tires carefully throughout the closing stages of the race, ensuring he did not overwork them while also keep Ricciardo at an arm’s length. When he managed to open up a gap, the race was put under another VSC due to debris on the main straight, appearing to fall from one of the balconies above the circuit.

The Briton took it in his stride, monitoring the gap to Ricciardo once the race got back up to speed before producing another set of fast laps to open the gap back up to three seconds with five laps to go. From there, he was able to ease to victory, crossing the line after 78 laps to record his first win of the season.

For Hamilton, the result was much-needed. After a miserable start to the year that had seen him lead just a single lap in the first five races, to bounce back with a drive worthy of a three-time champion showed that Hamilton remains a serious force to be reckoned with in this championship.

Ricciardo eased his way home in second place, knowing for the second race in a row that an error from the team had cost him a possible victory. Had it not been for the slow pit stop, he would easily have emerged from the pits ahead of Hamilton – such fine margins prove so decisive in F1.

Perez held on to third to claim just the fourth podium finish in Force India’s history – his third for the team – after fending off Vettel in the final few laps, leaving the Ferrari driver to settle for P4.

Fernando Alonso perfected his strategy calls to rise to fifth at the start of the slick stint, and was able to keep Rosberg back for the remainder of the race. Rosberg did make a pass at one point at the exit of the tunnel, only to lock up and miss the chicane, forcing him to give the place back. The German driver ultimately came home in seventh after slowing on the final lap and falling behind Nico Hulkenberg.

Carlos Sainz Jr. ended the race eighth as the sole finisher for Toro Rosso after teammate Daniil Kvyat was forced to retire after a run-in with Kevin Magnussen while running two laps down. Jenson Button finished ninth for McLaren to give the team a double points finish, while Felipe Massa rounded out the points for Williams in P10.

Esteban Gutierrez narrowly missed out on his first points of the season, finishing 11th as the lead Haas with teammate Romain Grosjean down in P14. Valtteri Bottas ended the race 12th for Williams ahead of Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein, whose teammate Rio Haryanto finished as the last classified finisher in P15.