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.”

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.