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Ricciardo fulfills potential with Monaco pole, has strategy options

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Daniel Ricciardo believes that his charge to pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday proves the potential that he and Red Bull have shown in recent races.

Ricciardo ended Mercedes’ perfect qualifying record in 2016 to take his first pole position in Formula 1, edging out Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in Q3.

The result marked Red Bull’s first pole since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix and comes just two weeks after Max Verstappen’s victory for the team in Spain.

Speaking after qualifying, Ricciardo said he was pleased to have delivered on the potential that he felt was there coming into the weekend.

“I knew coming into the weekend we’d have a shot at it. It looked good from Thursday,” Ricciardo said.

“I sort of had it in my mind the whole time coming into the weekend. I think also after Barcelona, the last few races, I felt like I’ve been driving well but haven’t quite got maximum rewards.

“I came into this weekend with a lot of confidence and belief that I could be in this position now. I’m very happy to fulfill that. It feels good.

“I’ve always enjoyed this place. The car’s good, we’ve got a good package behind us now, it’s nice to make the most of it.”

Ricciardo will start Sunday’s race on the super-soft tire after completing his quickest lap in Q2 on the compound, while his rivals will be forced to use the less durable ultra-soft in the first stint.

The move means that Ricciardo can go far longer in the race before making his first pit stop, putting him in a strong position relying that the forecast rain does not hit Monaco tomorrow.

“We’ll see tomorrow if it works,” Ricciardo said.

“The plan was to go out on the ultra-soft for the first run in Q2 and at least try and do a good enough lap with that. We had the time on our side so we thought let’s try and see what the super-soft can do.

“We just feel maybe it opens up a few more options for the race tomorrow. We did a good lap on that. I think it set us up well for Q3 as well, knowing that I had the ultra-soft and that step in grip. I was able to maximize that and do the lap.

“I think today we’re sitting pretty. Hopefully it turns in our favor tomorrow.”

The Monaco Grand Prix is live on NBC from 7:30am ET on Sunday, with F1 Countdown beginning on NBCSN at 7am ET.

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.