Tables turn for Red Bull drivers in Monaco as Ricciardo hits podium

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Red Bull Formula 1 drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen saw their emotions flip from post-qualifying to post-race in Monaco as the team picked up its third podium finish of the year.

Ricciardo’s usual smiley demeanor was absent after he qualified fifth on Saturday, having felt Red Bull was capable of more, while Verstappen – just one place ahead in P4 – said the result was the maximum the team could have hoped for.

In the race, though, the tables turned. Ricciardo crossed the line third, content to be best of the rest behind the dominant Ferraris, while Verstappen was left irked by Red Bull’s strategy call costing him position.

Verstappen had spent the early part of the race running fourth behind Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, prompting Red Bull to try and get the undercut by pitting the Dutchman early.

Mercedes reacted just one lap later and pitted Bottas, bringing the Finn back out ahead of Verstappen on-track.

Ricciardo, who had been fifth, was finding more and more time on his ultra-soft tires after being dropped into clear air, while Bottas and Verstappen were left to toil in traffic, losing chunks of time in the process.

Ricciardo came in six laps after his teammate and was able to get back out a comfortable third, gaining two places with the overcut, much to Verstappen’s frustration.

Despite a late-race brush with the barrier following the safety car restart, Ricciardo was able to hold on to third place ahead of Bottas and Verstappen, going some way to make up for his qualifying disappointment.

“I’m much happier today. I can’t obviously complain how it worked out and I have to thank the team. It was cool to show some pace today and we had that clear track,” Ricciardo said.

“I didn’t think the tires had that much more but I just got into that rhythm, was able to punch out some good times. I knew the pace was right, my engineer was encouraging me on the radio saying: ‘Pace is really good. Keep going, keep going!’ That was certainly motivating and my thanks to the homies.

“After the safety car it was pretty unexpected when I touched the wall as I didn’t brake late or anything, I felt I was quite cautious, but then when I turned I thought the car isn’t turning, I then hit the wall and thought I damaged the front wing or something.

“But in the end it was OK. I’m just happy to be back on the podium to be honest. That was definitely the icing on the cake and is a reward for myself and the team.”

Verstappen trotted back to his garage after the race with his helmet still on and delayed meeting the media after the race so he had time to calm down, having felt he had lost a sure-fire podium shot.

“It is very disappointing after such a clean weekend where everything has gone really well to then feel I lost out on a podium, but I guess that is racing,” Verstappen said.

“I tried everything I could to get close to Bottas, you can say we stopped too early or should have gone longer but that is always easy to think after the race.

“Even after the safety car, I was on fresh, softer rubber but with the wide cars and dirty air you can’t make a move and I had no real chance of overtaking here.

“I think I did 77 laps in traffic today, that isn’t much fun and I couldn’t push but at least we finished the race which is the biggest positive from the day.”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
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Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.