Formula One: Ricciardo delivers one-liner on bungle

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo laughs during a news conference.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo laughs during a news conference. PHOTO: REUTERS

Australian quips that he will ignore pit stops at Monaco to avoid repeat of last year's pain

MONACO • Daniel Ricciardo jokes that he has a new strategy for Formula One's Monaco Grand Prix this year - no pit stops, just keep going all the way to the chequered flag.

The rules do not allow that, of course, but the comment underlines the lingering pain of last year when the Australian seized pole position but was robbed of victory by a pit-stop bungle.

"It sucks. It hurts," said the Red Bull driver, who finished second to Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, at the time. "I got to the pits and everyone's running around like headless chooks (chickens)."

The pole position was the only one that escaped champions Mercedes last year and Ricciardo took some solace when he then won in Malaysia after Hamilton suffered engine failure.

Title rivals Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, separated by just six points and with two wins apiece, will be the favourites in Sunday's showcase race around the metal-fenced streets of Monaco.

But Ricciardo reckons he can again muscle in on the action, even if his car's Renault engine is down on power.

However, both Hamilton and Vettel have their own milestones in mind on what promises to be a sunny week in the Mediterranean principality for the two multiple title winners.

Vettel, the championship leader, is aiming to become the first Ferrari driver to win in Monaco since Michael Schumacher in 2001 - almost ancient history as far as Formula One is concerned.

Mercedes are seeking a fifth successive Monaco win, with Hamilton triumphant last year after three straight victories for now-retired champion Nico Rosberg.

The title duel, in the sixth and slowest round of the championship, will also be about absent friends and returning heroes.

Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion who called it a day last year, will be filling in for Fernando Alonso at McLaren while the latter competes in the Indianapolis 500 on the same weekend.

Mexican Sergio Perez, third last year for Force India ahead of Vettel, is now going for his 16th successive points finish.

The wider and faster cars could also make overtaking rarer than ever at a circuit where it is notoriously difficult to pass a rival.

"Overtaking? Just no chance," French driver Romain Grosjean said. "Some places it's going to be very tight. But, on the other hand, it's going to be faster and we're going to have more grip and more downforce, so we'll love it."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2017, with the headline 'Ricciardo delivers one-liner on bungle'. Print Edition | Subscribe