An Own goal is probably the worst thing a team has to endure in a team sport. It has traces of hara-kiri that takes time to sink in and makes it difficult to move on. Daniel Ricciardo was sport’s latest victim.
Two races in a row, you are in the lead and looked set for victories only to be robbed by team strategies. This has been the story of Daniel Ricciardo for the past two races. At the Spanish Grand Prix, Red Bull managed to have their rookie driver, Max Verstappen claim the top step – however, at the next race in Monaco, the team strategy killed whatever advantage Ricciardo had built over Hamilton.
Result: In the narrow streets of Monaco, he played second fiddle to the Mercedes ace driver, following the silver arrow for more than 40 laps.
“Two weekends in a row now I’ve been screwed, it sucks, it hurts. But thanks to everyone for sticking out, I appreciate it.” – said the distraught Australian in the post race press conference.
Ricciardo had two pit stops against Hamilton’s one. However, it was not the extra stop that costed him the race – it was the unpreparedness on the part of Red Bull that left him fuming.
The first stop was for the switch from wet tyres to intermediates, something which Hamilton chose not to opt and as a result, the Brit got into the lead. Eight laps later, after Hamilton pits for ultra soft dry tyres, Red Bull team management called in Ricciardo the very next lap.
The Australian had a great in-lap and a pit stop formality would have ensured his lead. Ricciardo came into the pits only to find his pit crew standing without the tyres. The wait lasted for 13 seconds before he was let go to join the race. That costed him the lead as Hamilton went past him while Ricciardo was seconds away from the racing line.
“Two races in a row. Two races in a row, that’s all I can say. We had a healthy lead and then we went to inters that effectively put us into a race we didn’t need to be in. Then I was called into the pits for slicks and the tyres weren’t ready. I didn’t make a late call….”
More disaster struck for Red Bull as Max Verstappen crashed out of the race three laps after the pit stop agony.
A second place on the podium is a good result. However, when you have been the best car throughout the weekend, then getting robbed of a victory doesn’t go well. This is F1 racing where perfection and error are separated by tiniest of margins.
Christian Horner, the Team Principal for Red Bull was apologetic for the pit-stop error – “A very disappointing day. We as a team owe Daniel a huge apology today as we failed to support him in the way we did to get him to his first pole position yesterday. The delay at his pit stop cost him the lead and despite some excellent driving to get close to Lewis, he couldn’t get past, as is so often the case here in Monaco.”
The team can sit back, and review what transpired and how they can continue this good form in the next race in Canada. If Red Bull can match Mercedes, then we have a exciting season ahead.