Strategy to be “more important than usual” at Monaco

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The Monaco Grand Prix has traditionally been a “one-stop” race but Pirelli expect drivers will have to make more than one visit to the pits on Sunday.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said “strategy will become even more important than usual” at Monaco because of the difficulty of overtaking on the narrow, two-mile track.

All of the points-scoring drivers in last year’s race made a single pit stop. Most started on the super-soft tires and switch to the soft compound. Pirelli will bring the same tire mix to this weekend’s race.

However the first year of ‘Pirelli era’ racing at Monaco in 2011 saw the top three drivers all adopt different strategies. Sebastian Vettel won the race having pitted once, Fernando Alonso stopped twice and was second, and Jenson Button finished third after three pit stops.

Hembery says it’s unlikely we’ll see a repeat of the four stops seen in the Spanish Grand Prix, but is expecting more action in the pits at Monaco than last year.

“In Monaco we’d expect an average of two pit stops per car, because in complete contrast to the last race at Barcelona, Monaco has very low tire wear and degradation.

“This doesn’t make the race any less strategic however, as in the past we have seen drivers trying completely different strategies yet ending up very close to each other at the finish.

“The last race in Spain was won from lower down on the grid than it has ever been won before, so it will be interesting to see if this pattern can repeat itself in Monaco.”

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.