Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has described Daniel Ricciardo as “unbelievable” for his drive to win the Monaco Grand Prix after losing his MGU-K.
Leading from pole position, Ricciardo radioed his team early in the race to say he was losing power, and Red Bull confirmed a power unit issue was hampering his pace. With Sebastian Vettel immediately closing in, Ricciardo nursed his car to the finish to win his first Monaco Grand Prix — and Horner says the drop in performance was worth 2.5 seconds per lap.
“Unbelievable,” Horner told Sky Sports. “He was not going to give this race up this weekend. He was quickest in every session. He lost the MGU-K 17 or 18 laps into the race. That’s what it was. That’s two and a half seconds a lap he is giving up.
“Then your brake temperatures go out of control, then the fuel, tires going off and he just managed it like he was on a Sunday afternoon drive. They were telling me on the intercom that we were going to have to retire the car in one or two laps and I said look, we’re in the lead of the Monaco Grand Prix, we’re keeping going.
“He was moving the switches around, driving, saving fuel, saving brakes, saving tires, asking what’s going on with Max [Verstappen]’s tires and whatever else. He drove an unbelievable race this weekend.”
Horner explained how the MGU-K issue then had a knock-on effect on a number of other aspects of the car and left Ricciardo with a major task on his hands.
“He’s lost about 25 percent of the power of the engine and because of the way these engines work, that’s making his rear brake temperatures going through the roof. We saw that a few years ago with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in Montreal. He’s having to cool the brakes, he’s having to cool the car, he’s having to lift off to do that.
“He’s got Sebastian Vettel breathing down his neck, he cannot make a mistake. He cannot lock a wheel up. He’s dealing with all the switch changes, all he’s got to manage and he totally nailed it. He was the coolest guy out there today.”
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko agreed with Horner, saying he felt only Ricciardo was capable of retaining the lead of the race with a car in that condition.
“It was a serious problem and he managed it unbelievably,” Marko added. “I don’t think any other driver could have done it.
“We were very nervous because in the beginning it looked like it could even [affect] the car further but then we changed the set up, changed his driving style so unbelievable.”