Daniel Ricciardo is at home at Monaco, literally, and on race eve he is watching the weather and hoping for rain.
The Australia keeps an apartment – along with his eclectic collection of trophies and racing helmets – in the principality and each May he gets to take to his ‘local’ track.
The storied 3.3-kilometre street track suits his hard braking, close to the edge driving style and he’s again punched above his weight by getting his problematic Renault into a solid position for Sunday night’s (AEST) race.
His one race win at Monaco with Red Bull in 2018 came only after enduring the heartbreak of a 13.6-second pit stop snafu in 2016, when his team did not have tyres ready after he was called in while leading the race.
This year Ricciardo will start sixth on the grid after qualifying seventh and gaining a bump from a Pierre Gasly grid penalty.
After this year’s horror start to his tenure at Renault, Ricciardo says the team took some risks in setting up the car and it paid off in qualifying – the ultimate determiner in Monaco of how likely you are to have a good race day.
“I’m happy with the end result, especially with where we started on Thursday,” Ricciardo said in a team statement.
“We made some brave changes to the car even after FP3, but that worked and going that extra mile has paid off.
“Some variables tomorrow could make it interesting and I wouldn’t be disappointed if I wake up to rain. But, wet or dry, I’ll be ready.”
Ricciardo said he always thought the Renault had the ability to compete in the top 10 and the recent changes would ensure that could happen.
“A bit like Barcelona – like all year – I believed that if we nailed it with this car, we are a Q3 car. But it’s not always easy to nail,” he told the Formula1.com official website.
“On Thursday, I knew with the package we had it was not really possible, but I knew there were some improvements to make with the balance – and still with myself.”
Highlighting how well Ricciardo handles the street circuit was the fact his his teammate Nico Hulkenberg could only manage 11th place, with the pair evenly matched in the races so far this year.
Renault was also gifted extra placings up the grid because of Ferrari’s strategy failure that resulted in another Monaco local, Charles Leclerc, only qualifying 16th fastest.
Lewis Hamilton will start on pole in his Mercedes with teammate Valtteri Bottas also on the front row.
With that pair likely to scoot ahead it leaves Ricciardo’s former teammate Max Verstappen in third and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on the second row.
Kevin Magnussen will start fifth for Haas alongside Ricciardo.
With overtaking difficult, if not impossible with evenly matched cars, Ricciardo will have to rely on good pitstop strategy and failures further up the order – although Verstappen, for one, has found himself in the wall at Monaco in recent years.
So, given wet weather will help Ricciardo to mount a challenge, what will the Australian see when he looks out his window on race day?
The forecast for Monaco is an 80 per cent chance of showers.