Daniel Ricciardo had the pace to respond to any threat from behind during the Monaco Grand Prix despite his MGU-K issue, according to Sebastian Vettel.
Having started from pole position, Ricciardo looked comfortable in the lead before suffering a loss of power during the first third of the race, resulting in second-placed Vettel closing in. Having been told that Ricciardo was struggling with an issue that would not rectify itself, Vettel got close to the Red Bull but was never within range to attempt an overtaking move, and the Ferrari driver admits he didn’t have enough of a performance advantage to try and pass.
“Obviously I saw the issue and I was also told by radio and that’s when I started to push, but as soon as I got too close or closer then I struggled to stay there and never got in range,” Vettel said. “Especially at the exit of the tunnel, I was always too far (behind) to try and get close.
“I had the DRS a couple of times but obviously the track makes it quite difficult, which is a bonus if you are ahead; but with all the problems he had, he was still quicker than us.”
Vettel said his Ferrari was quick enough to stay with Ricciardo at times before the problem, but believes his tire wear was higher than the Red Bull, which resulted in his challenge fading away after a late Virtual Safety Car period.
“I think we had the pace but it was a tricky race. I think Daniel had the answers at all times. First stint I could follow him fairly easily and then he started to push just, I think, when Lewis [Hamilton] started to pit. Then he was a bit stronger there and I couldn’t follow. I was going through the tires fairly quick.
“The next stint was a bit the same. I think he had a problem halfway through with his MGU-K. Towards the end I picked up [the pace] again but at the restart I just didn’t have much confidence in the tires and I lost quite a lot, otherwise it would have been nice to keep the pressure on until the end.”
By finishing second, Vettel took three points out of Hamilton’s lead in the drivers’ championship to close the gap to 14 points after the first six races, with Ricciardo 38 points behind after joining the leading two drivers on two wins each.