Daniel Ricciardo dealt with a power unit problem for the majority of the race but managed to hold off Sebastian Vettel to take his second win of the year in the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Australian was in dominant form all weekend and looked comfortable in the lead when he started reporting a loss of power after a third of the race, slowing his pace. Asked what he could do, Ricciardo was told to keep his driving smooth but that the issue — later revealed to be an MGU-K failure — would not improve, leaving him hampered for the rest of the race.
Fortunately Ricciardo had already made his one pit stop to switch to ultrasoft tires, and duly managed to hold off the early challenge of Sebastian Vettel. Although Vettel was aware of the issue, he too had to think about managing his ultrasofts for a long stint — something many drivers were struggling with — and with overtaking difficult at Monaco could not find a way through.
Vettel ultimately never made a significant attempt to pass, and had his mirrors full of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes at times as the top five cars bunched up behind Ricciardo. Hamilton had been the most vocal in his concerns about his ultrasofts not lasting until the end of the race, having pitted on Lap 12 of the 78-lap race, but in the end came home a distant third and held off Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages.
Raikkonen had Valtteri Bottas for company, with the second Mercedes opting for supersofts at the first round of pit stops and duly being in better shape than the four cars ahead of him but unable to make use of his better rubber without track position.
While the top five were rather processional despite the issues that made the race tense, there was action provided from Max Verstappen who climbed through from 20th on the grid with a number of overtaking moves to finish in ninth place.
Verstappen engaged in a good fight with former teammate Carlos Sainz late in the race and eventually passed the Renault with a strong move at the Nouvelle Chicane, bouncing over the curbs as he tried to make the corner and escaping any action from the stewards. The Red Bull driver then closed on Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg — fighting for seventh and eighth respectively behind Esteban Ocon in sixth — but opted against making a move.
It was an impressive performance, but one necessitated by his crash in FP3 on Saturday that left Verstappen unable to take part in qualifying, and the Dutchman will be left rueing a missed opportunity at a circuit where Red Bull was the class of the field.
Sainz — who released teammate Hulkenberg in the final stint as the second Renault opted for hypersofts at his one and only pit stop — held on for 10th ahead of Marcus Ericsson, with the Swede being promoted two positions by a collision late on. Ericsson’s teammate Charles Leclerc was chasing down Brendon Hartley when an apparent brake issue saw him spear into the back of the Toro Rosso at the Nouvelle Chicane in the closing laps, taking both cars out of the race.
Hartley limped back to the pit lane and retired with rear wing damage, and only the Virtual Safety Car was needed to clear the debris. That still created some worrying moments for Ocon, who overheated his brakes behind the VSC and suffered issues on the restart. But he was able to hold off Gasly, Hulkenberg and Verstappen behind. While most positions remained unchanged during the race, Ocon’s teammate Sergio Perez was one of the drivers to lose out when a slow pit stop dropped him out of the top 10.
At the front, having had a Ferrari for close company for much of the race, Ricciardo was able to establish a more comfortable margin of over three seconds after the VSC to beat Vettel and Hamilton, giving each driver two wins each this season. It was a case of redemption for the Australian, who was on pole position and seemingly set for victory in Monaco two years ago when a Red Bull pit stop error dropped him behind Hamilton and cost him the win.
Aside from Hartley and Leclerc, Fernando Alonso was the only other driver to fail to finish as he suffered a gearbox problem while running in the points and had to part his McLaren. There was also a nightmare race for Williams, with Sergey Sirotkin 16th and Lance Stroll 17th — the last of the runners — after numerous pit stops and errors.