Redemption has finally arrived for Daniel Ricciardo as the Red Bull driver overcame a mid-race power loss to win the Monaco Grand Prix, two years after being cruelly denied victory in Formula One’s crown jewel event.
Winning from pole position on Sunday for the first time in his career, the Australian drove for nearly two-thirds of the race with a car down on power due to problems that emerged on lap 28.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, last year’s race winner, finished second to cut Lewis Hamilton’s overall lead to 14 points after six of 21 rounds.
Hamilton, the reigning world champion, was third for Mercedes.
“You have done an amazing job today,” team boss Christian Horner said after Ricciardo took the chequered flag 7.3 seconds clear of Vettel.
“That is right up there with what Schumacher did … and this is payback for 2016.”
The 28-year-old was denied a certain victory in the principality two years ago when his team botched a regulation pit stop.
There was no denying him this time.
“Two years in the making and I finally feel redemption has arrived,” Ricciardo said.
“I lost power halfway and I thought the race was over. Thanks to the team we got it back. I’m stoked.”
Ricciardo appeared emotional, even tearful, as he sat in his car moments after crossing the finish line after 78 laps on the 3.34km street circuit. He celebrated his win with a dunk in Red Bull’s rooftop swimming pool.
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After topping all three practice sessions and all three qualifying, Ricciardo made a clean start on Sunday and, controlling the pace and the race, looked as much of a certainty for victory as ever exists on Monaco’s treacherous streets.
Then it all seemed to unravel when he reported a loss of power over the team radio.
“OK mate, we can see what’s going on,” his race engineer replied after a pause.
“You just need to keep it smooth, keep focused.”
“Will it get better?” the Australian asked.
“Negative,” came the reply.
From then on, Ricciardo – down on power and with Vettel in his rear-view mirrors – was a model of consistency on a track where overtaking is a challenge for even the greatest of talents.
For lap after lap, he kept the gap until Vettel’s tyres showed signs of wear.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth for Ferrari ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Force India’s Esteban Ocon.
Ricciardo’s teammate, Max Verstappen, recovered from the back of the grid to finish ninth, having missed qualifying due to a crash in final practice.
A largely processional race saw the safety car stay in the pits, with only a virtual safety car needed in the closing laps.
That was triggered by Sauber’s Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc, the first local F1 driver in 24 years to compete on his home streets, having piled into the back of New Zealander Brendon Hartley’s Toro Rosso at the tunnel exit.
It was Ricciardo’s second win of the season after the Chinese GP last month and seventh of his career, pushing him up to third in the title race.