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.”

IndyCar’s ‘Phoenix’ flying into 2023 season: Romain Grosjean enjoying the pilot’s life

IndyCar Romain Grosjean pilot
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The IndyCar driver known as “The Phoenix” already has taken flight before the 2023 season, and newly licensed pilot Romain Grosjean also got a head start on the opener.

Fulfilling a dream several years in the making, the Andretti Autosport plunged into aviation training over the offseason. Since beginning with online studying last August, Grosjean quickly progressed to earning his licenses for multiengine planes and instrument ratings while completing 115 hours of flight time.

He has landed twice at Albert Whitted Airport, whose primary runway also doubles as the front straightaway on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg street course.

“Just to land on the start-finish line, that was pretty cool,” Grosjean said during IndyCar Preseason Content Days ahead of the Feb. 2-3 test at The Thermal Club. “The air traffic control guy was like, “Yeah, left on Acre Five, turn, and then back. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s the last corner of the racetrack, I’ll take it and go back to the pit lane. He was like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, that’s true.’ So it was quite funny.”

Grosjean, 36, said he had wanted to become a pilot since he was 30 but was discouraged by Europe’s complicated and time-consuming licensing process (“to go to ground school twice a week, and with our life, it’s impossible”). He was inspired again last year by (now former) teammate Alexander Rossi, who flew to some 2022 races after earning his license a couple of years ago.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” said Grosjean, who had grown “bored of waiting in the airports.”

He plans to fly to nearly all the races this year (“if the weather is good enough, I’ll be flying”) and jokes about being “commercial by the end of the year, so then I can take Roger (Penske). Roger can pay me to fly him around to races if things go bad with racing.”

Grosjean’s social media has been filled with posts about his new hobby, which afforded him the opportunity recently to take his wife to Key West for lunch from their home in the Miami area. The trip took 37 minutes there and 41 minutes on return and highlighted why Grosjean loves flying: “Freedom. Freedom to go anywhere you want, anytime you want. It’s the beauty of it. We can go to the Bahamas for a day if we want to. Anywhere. I think that’s just great to know that you can do whatever you want.”

It’s reminiscent of the cross-country trip across the Midwest in an RV that Grosjean took with his family during the summer of his 2021 rookie season.

“There’s one thing that I told my kids, and I told my friend about America, and for me, that’s the biggest difference between Europe and here, is here everything is possible,” said Grosjean (whose “Phoenix” nickname was derived from a brush with death in his final Formula One start). “If you have the wish, if you give yourself the possibility of doing it, everything is possible. It is different in Europe. Much more boundaries on the way. Much more steps that you need to do in a certain order. But if you want to be extraordinary (in the United States), if you want to do something different, you don’t need to do those steps because you can work through.

“Yeah, I like doing things, and when I do them, I like doing them well. But here I think just the opportunity of driving the RV, flying planes, for my kids to do whatever they want to do, we love that here. Yeah, it’s been the best discovery for us.”

The Swiss-born Frenchman already has flown himself to a race this year, jetting up the Florida coast for his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut last month. It was his debut as a Lamborghini factory driver, and his new deal will continue with the Twelve Hours of Sebring and possibly the Petit Le Mans while he also helps develop the automaker’s new hybrid prototype (LMDh) for next year.

Grosjean, who finished a disappointing 13th in the 2022 points standings with one podium for Andretti in his first full season, said IndyCar will remain his priority in 2024.

But he hopes the IndyCar schedule will afford racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance races and perhaps another his longest plane flight yet — a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed like that we get the weekend off from IndyCar,” said Grosjean, noting that 10 IndyCar drivers were in the Rolex 24. “I think it would make a lot of sense. I think for both series it’s amazing. If we can get Le Mans, it’s also amazing because it’s just cool.

“I remember Mario flying across the Atlantic doing Monaco and the Indy 500, and those guys, they were racing everywhere, Formula 3, Formula 2, Formula 1. They were doing the races in opening of the Formula 1 race, and I think that’s very cool for us. So yeah, looking forward to the project. There’s going to be a lot of development coming on. By the time we finish the IndyCar season, the LMDh will be here in the States, and that’s when I’m going to spend a lot of time on it.”