Ricciardo: Impossible not to get excited about Monaco

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The Monaco Grand Prix is widely recognized as being the jewel in the Formula 1 crown. Each May, the rich, pretty and famous convene in the principality for a weekend of racing; it is the ultimate place to be seen.

However, even for the drivers, there’s a certain sense of excitement surrounding the weekend. It is the ultimate driving challenge, with the unforgiving walls just millimetres away, and to be a great of the sport you need to have won in Monaco.

Ahead of his first Monaco Grand Prix for Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo has made no secret of his own excitement, saying that he cannot kid himself into treating it like any other race weekend.

“In Monte Carlo it’s impossible to do that calm, detached racing driver thing,” he explained. “Every year I’m determined I’m going to approach the weekend in a coldly logical way, and every year I end up bouncing up and down and getting excited!

“It’s just amazing. The atmosphere in town and down at the harbour, the history of the race, the massive crowd, it’s a real buzz. The track is properly old-school.

“Driving an F1 car anywhere is special – the speed, the power and the acceleration just blows you away – but here it’s… cool.”

Interestingly, Ricciardo has never actually finished the Monaco Grand Prix. In two previous attempts, he has retired from the race, with last year’s DNF coming as a result of Romain Grosjean crashing into the back of him.

However, after finally claiming his first podium finish at the Spanish Grand Prix, the Australian will be hoping to greet Prince Albert with that infectious smile on the podium in Monaco and perhaps even pass teammate Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.