Daniel Ricciardo nursed his wounded Red Bull over the line to win the Monaco Grand Prix and claim his second victory of the Formula One campaign.
Ricciardo was down on power for the majority of the sport’s most famous race by the Mediterranean, but he bravely held off challenges from Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to take the chequered flag.
Vettel, who conceded defeat in the closing stages of Sunday’s glamorous grand prix, cuts Hamilton’s championship lead to 14 points. Kimi Raikkonen finished in fourth with Valtteri Bottas fifth for Mercedes.
Here’s our main takeaways from Monaco.
Ricciardo reigns supreme
The Australian was immense all weekend, converting only his second career pole into a second victory of the season.
The 28-year-old utterly dominated the track action, topping all three practice sessions and then set a new Monte Carlo track record in Q3 on Saturday.
His advantage may have only been two hundredths of a second in qualifying, but he was made to work all the way to the chequered flag on race day, with Vettel breathing down his neck for over 45 laps of the race.
A loss of power midway through the race meant he struggled to pull further away from the Ferrari, but victory alone will have boosted confidence for the Milton Keynes outfit after a mixed start to the season.
Vettel cuts gap in title race
Although he was unable to topple Ricciardo, the German can leave Monaco with plenty of positives after sealing second and also reducing Hamilton’s lead at the top of the championship to 14 points.
After failing to make the podium in Spain two weeks ago, Vettel led a consistent Ferrari performance in the south of France, between his superb result and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen crossing the line in fourth.
Staying within a second of Ricciardo for the majority of the race, he didn’t put a foot wrong around a circuit that is renowned for a lack of overtaking opportunities.
With two weeks until the championship rolls into Canada, the 30-year-old is slowly chipping away at Hamilton’s lead, something that is a minor concern with three quarters of the season still to go.
Hamilton resurgence continues
In a race that the Red Bulls were expected to dominate – and Ricciardo rightly did – Hamilton would have taken third before the weekend even began.
With back-to-back wins in Baku and Barcelona, the championship leader may not be fully comfortable in the W09 but looked solid as he stayed within a second of Vettel and two seconds of Ricciardo for large spells of the race.
It’s clear his resurgence is here to stay and represents a huge positive for the title race as he and Vettel go in search of that illustrious fifth world title.
Verstappen steps up
The Dutchman showed serious composure and pace to navigate the tight confines of the circuit and finish ninth after starting from the back of the grid.
One of the favourites leading into the weekend, Verstappen drove into the back of a wall in free practice and was unable to get out to set a time in Q1.
It was the sixth time the 20-year-old has either skidded or collided with another driver so far this season.
But despite the criticism, the Red Bull star proved his class with a stunning driver to move up 11 places and finish in the points.
He still has plenty to work on before the Canadian Grand Prix in two weeks.
Ocon shows desire
The Frenchman may be off form and also the pace that saw him clinch 18 top-10 finishes last season, but the Force India youngster produced a masterclass this weekend to take sixth – eight places ahead of his team-mate Sergio Perez.
With 10th, 11th, 12th and two DNFs in his first five races respectively, Ocon showed flashes of confidence in Monaco after a poor start to his second season in F1.
In a long season, the Evreux native has time on his side to transform his form and push Force India into a high midfield place again. He needs a consistent run if he is to be considered for a potential Mercedes seat in the future.
Williams struggle again
Another disappointing finish for Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll with both drivers finishing 16th and 17th respectively.
With Williams sitting at the basement of the championship, now is the right time for Paddy Lowe and Co. to give reserve driver Robert Kubica a chance to see if he can help revive fortunes at the garage.
If the 33-year-old fails to prove himself, then Williams can stick to their original plan of pushing the two youngsters until the end of the season before drafting in a more experienced name, something that is well needed.
Ricciardo was down on power for the majority of the sport’s most famous race by the Mediterranean, but he bravely held off the challenge from Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to take the chequered flag.
Vettel, who harassed the Red Bull before conceding defeat in the closing stages of Sunday’s glamorous grand prix, cuts Hamilton’s championship lead to 14 points. Kimi Raikkonen finished in fourth with Valtteri Bottas fifth for Mercedes.
Ricciardo has excelled at the principality this weekend, and on the basis of topping every practice and qualifying session before executing a perfect start and his one and only stop for tyres, looked destined to march to glory.
But trouble suddenly struck for the 28-year-old with 50 of this 78-lap marathon race remaining when he reported a loss of engine power.
Vettel was soon all over the back of Ricciardo’s injured Red Bull, and there would be more alarming news to come for the Australian.
Ricciardo was denied a certain victory at the principality two years ago when his team botched up a regulation pit stop, and his triumph hung in the balance for much of the two hours.
But for all of the tracks to nurse a power issue, Monte Carlo would be the venue of choice given its lack of straights, and that is virtually impossible to overtake.
And Ricciardo used all of his know-how and racecraft to keep Vettel at bay. The gap as the German crossed the line was more than seven seconds.
For defending champion Hamilton, it was an unusually quiet race. The Brit spent much of his outing grumbling about his tyres, but he will take comfort from losing only three points to Vettel given this is one of Mercedes’ bogey tracks.
Ricciardo should have been joined on the podium by Max Verstappen, but Sunday’s race was a case of damage limitation from the 20-year-old Dutchman after he started from last place following his practice crash.
Verstappen made an impressive, and crucially error-free start, progressing six places in the opening eight laps before making his way into the points shortly before the midway stage.
He would cross the line in ninth to recover some pride following his fifth major error in the six rounds this season here on Saturday.
There was some late drama when Monaco-born Charles Leclerc crashed into the back of the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley which led to the deployment of the virtual safety car.
Max Verstappen learned a brutal lesson on Saturday when he crashed in final practice and missed out on qualifying for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
The young Dutch tyro was the fastest driver on track at the time he lost control of his car at the exit of the Swimming Pool complex and smashed into the barriers.
His car was wrecked and required extensive repairs involving both pit crews, but it was in vain when the team discovered an oil leak and the need for a new gearbox shortly before the start of qualifying.
His Australian teammate Daniel Ricciardo went on to top the final practice and then take pole position with a sensational record-breaking lap.
“Daniel has been on it all weekend, quickest in every section, and he has delivered two great laps capable of pole,” said Horner.
“It feels a bit bitter-sweet, we should have had two cars up there. It is frustrating with such a fast car not to have two cars on the front row.
“Both car crews, Daniel’s as well, did everything they could to make it happen…
“But this place bites hard if you abuse it and Max is a very fast driver, that is in no doubt, and this weekend we have a very fast car and he should have been competing for the front row.
“There is no more brutal lesson than what he has had and hopefully he is smart enough to learn from that.”