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Ricciardo moves on from Monaco pit error, has faith in Red Bull

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Daniel Ricciardo says he has “moved on” from the pit mistake made by his Red Bull team that cost him a likely win in the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Ricciardo enjoyed a 13-second lead over the field in the early stages of the race in Monaco, and looked set to claim his first win in over a year ahead of making the switch from wet to dry tires.

However, a late change in compound selection meant that his Red Bull pit crew did not have the tires ready for his stop, costing him 10 seconds while he waited for them to be readied.

The result was that Ricciardo emerged from the pits narrowly behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, where he would remain until the end of the race.

Ricciardo said on the podium he felt “screwed” and “hurt”, and revealed in Montreal on Thursday that he took a few days away to get over the incident.

“I gave it a few days to cool off. For me it was important to get away for a few days and then address what happened once we’d cooled and settled,” Ricciardo said.

“I spoke to various people in the team and they explained what happened at the time. It was important to hear the explanation and more important to move on from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“They’ve done a lot of things since then, set up some new parameters that will happen during pit stops and before pit stops to ensure these things don’t happen again, and to make sure tires are ready.

“From my side now I’ve moved on. I knew they were going to take it seriously because it was a big disappointment for all of us. I’ve been assured that if we’re in that position again it won’t happen. That’s what I needed and wanted to hear.”

After coming close to winning in both Monaco and Spain, Ricciardo arrives in Canada this weekend hopeful of challenging Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg once again for victory.

“That would be obviously a lovely way to bounce back,” Ricciardo said.

“Let’s see. I think realistically Mercedes are still going to be the ones to beat. I expect we can be the next best. But it’s hard. Ferrari have been there and surprised us sometimes, and been less surprising on other occasions.

“I do believe we’ll be the next ones in line behind Mercedes. How far behind Mercedes? I’m not sure, but hopefully close enough to put some pressure on them.”

Ricciardo admitted that he was surprised by how well Red Bull had fared in the opening third of the season, but lamented the missed opportunities that could have put him in the thick of the title battle.

“Coming into this season, I didn’t expect to be third in the championship after so many races in,” Ricciardo said.

“No points in Russia and could have got more in China without the puncture, and the last two races… we could be very close to the front of the championship right now.

“I’m still not looking at that yet. I’d love to be in a position where I can say in a few races time that we can fight for the title this year.

“I think that would be an unexpected story for F1. I think this race will be telling, if we can be competitive here.

“It’s still a long shot, but if we can be competitive then I believe in myself that I can fight and put myself in a position. Last time in Monaco wasn’t a one-off. I hope we can fight for the rest of the season.”

April 9 in Motorsports History: Al Unser Jr. gets sixth Long Beach win

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The list of winners in the Grand Prix of Long Beach is a ‘who’s who’ of open-wheel racing.

Mario Andretti won at the famed street course four times. His son Michael won there twice.

Paul Tracy is also a four-time winner at the beach. Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastien Bourdais, and Alexander Rossi also have won at the famed course multiple times.

But there is only one “King of the Beach”: Al Unser Jr.

The winningest driver in the race’s history, Unser won at Long Beach four consecutive times from 1988-91. He won again in 1994 and entered the 1995 edition as the race’s defending champion and the defending CART champion as well.

Starting fourth, Unser made slight contact with Gil de Ferran when he passed the Brazilian on Lap 3. He then continued to move up to the front, taking the race lead from Teo Fabi on Lap 30.

Once he had the lead, Unser ran away from the field, winning by more than 23 seconds over Scott Pruett.

Unser’s victory was such a familiar scene that after the race, CART news manager John Procida began the winner’s news conference with the following statement: “Well, we have a very familiar face on the top rung of the podium. As we listed on the prerace press release, this seems to be the Al Unser Invitational.”

Indeed it was. Unser’s victory was his sixth at Long Beach, and the 28th of his career. overall. While it would be his last win there, Unser continued to race at Long Beach through 1998 before missing 1999 with a broken leg and moving to the Indy Racing Leauge in 2000.

In 2009, Unser was inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame, which honors significant contributors to the race and California motorsports community.

“It truly is just an honor to be mentioned with the names and the legends that have already been put into the sidewalk,” Unser said during the induction ceremony. “To have Brian (Redman, the inaugural winner of the race) and Parnelli (Jones) is really an honor and just to be in their company is very, very special.”

Also on this date:

1971: Jacques Villeneuve was born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Canada. The second-generation driver was one of the best in open-wheel racing during the 1990s, winning the Indianapolis 500 and CART championship in ’95 and becoming a Formula One champion two years later.

1989: Rick Mears dominated CART’s Checker Autoworks 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, leading every lap from the pole and lapping the field.

2011: Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park, their sixth consecutive victory in Grand Am competition. Their lengthy win streak, which started on Aug. 7, 2010 at Watkins Glen, prompted Grand Am to offer a $25,000 bounty for any Daytona Prototype team that could beat the dominant duo. The Action Express trio of Joao Barbosa, J.C. France, and Terry Borcheller finally unseated Pruett and Rojas in the series’ next round at Virginia International Raceway.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994