Horner, Marko hail Ricciardo’s ‘unbelievable’ Monaco drive

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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.

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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.