The stats of Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix indicate a seemingly easy and routine conclusion to a dominant Monaco Grand Prix weekend for Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, who led every practice session, set a track record on the way to securing the pole, and led every lap his way to a dominant victory.
But, what the stats won’t detail is a serious power unit issue that surfaced very early on, and put his entire race in jeopardy.
Prior to lap 20, his Renault-powered RB14 suffered a failure in the MGU-K, the system that converts kinetic energy under braking into electric energy that helps power the car.
In essence, the problem, which the team could not fix despite trying a number of different solutions, cost Ricciardo roughly 1/4 of the output from the Renault power unit and forced him to use only six of the usually available eight gears – typically, such an issue would result in an immediate retirement.
However, Ricciardo managed to nurse the issue for roughly 60 laps, and never lost the lead to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, even winning by over seven seconds at the end.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was over the moon in describing Ricciardo’s performance.
“He was not going to give this race up this weekend,” Horner said of Ricciardo’s drive in a story on Formula1.com. “We lose the MGU-K 17 or 18 laps into the race. Then your brake temperatures go out of control. The tire temperatures start going up. And he just managed it like he’s on a Sunday afternoon drive.
“They’re telling me on the intercom we’re going to have to retire the car in one or two laps. I said ‘We’re in the lead of the Monaco Grand Prix, we’re keeping going. He drove an unbelievable race this weekend.’”
Dr. Helmut Marko, advisor for Red Bull’s motorsports programs, offered equally high praise.
“I don’t think any other driver could have done it,” he asserted.
Ricciardo’s victory is his first on the streets of Monaco, and produced a feeling of redemption after he lost out on victory in 2016 following a pit stop error.
This facet was not lost on an emotional Ricciardo.
“I finally feel like the redemption has arrived,” he revealed. “We had problems. I don’t know how much the [team] radio broadcast. We had a lot to deal with during the race. Before half way, I felt a loss of power and I thought the race was done.
“We got home just using six gears. Thanks to the team, we got it back. So I’m stoked. There was a few doubts that came in mid race. We won Monaco. It feels good.”
The win is Ricciardo’s second of the 2018 season and puts him third in the driver’s championship, behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.