If there was a race that gave perhaps the most fitting example of just how utterly-competitive a driver Daniel Ricciardo is then it was the Monaco Grand Prix of 2018.
Daniel Ricciardo, the best on the grid?
A contest that shall, for years together, be regarded as an example of what it means to be a complete racing driver- an arduous racer who can not only defend his track position right from the start to the final corner and post the checkered flag but keep cool under an enormity of pressure- produced arguably the best driver on the grid as the race-winner.
And you didn’t have to speculate too hard who it was. In winning his first-ever Monaco Grand Prix, having previously endured a botched attempt at winning in 2016, Ricciardo withstood a major engine problem from the start of Lap 30 until Lap 78, keeping Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at bay and won arguably his best race this season.
It was never going to be easy for the Australian considering the Red Bull suffered a significant power issue in the MGUK from the onset of Lap 30, threatening his chances to seal a win ahead of a charging Vettel.
You understood the enormity of the challenge that Ricciardo was tasked with, that of defending from a much-experienced driver in Vettel for 48 onerous laps.
How tough was it actually for Ricciardo to win the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix?
But a day where Ricciardo made no mistake and may have even walked on water if asked, he kept his waning Red Bull just ahead of the Ferrari and Mercedes.
And it was always going to be tough out here in Monaco. Considering the narrowest track on the entire roster, it’s nearly impossible to overtake.
In ensuring that he isn’t overtaken by Vettel, who sensed his chances when it became apparent that the Red Bull driver was struggling for speed, Ricciardo became a master of a bundle of nerves in constantly fending off Vettel from taking the lead of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Ever since the front row emerged unscathed in reaching the first corner as the five red lights went off, it could’ve been anyone’s Grand Prix.
But Saturday’s pole-sitter Ricciardo was the master of a mayhem-free Monaco Grand Prix as there were gains further down the grid
While the top three finishers were an exact replica of the Saturday’s final qualifying session, an interesting battle transpired between Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who held on to his P4, challenged massively by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who secured an important P5, which meant Raikkonen’s fellow Finn leapfrogged him in the driver’s standings, jumping the ‘Iceman’ by 8 points.
Even as Raikkonen defended brilliantly from Bottas, putting his icy cool resolve into play, despite the valiance that ensured the Ferrari was able to contain the Merc, sitting just four-tenths of a second in pursuit, Kimi will have to emerge with a masterclass in the forthcoming races to keep himself in the title hunt.
Meanwhile, further down the grid, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso endured a sudden gearbox failure which led to his first mechanical-DNF of the season.
But it was a great race for the other Red Bull of Verstappen, who, in the wake of Saturday’s speedy collision into the barriers began Sunday’s Monaco challenge from the back-end of the grid and jumped a few exasperating places to finish with an incredible P9.
However, Williams’ Lance Stroll had a miserable race as he failed to look after his tyres managing no better than P17 while Toro Rosso’s Gasly and Force India’s Ocon enjoyed a strong, competitive Grand Prix, securing P7 and P6 respectively.
Ricciardo, the man of the moment
While the championship still rests in the control of the four-time world champion Hamilton, who clinched 15 valuable points and gathered a sedate P3, it remains to be seen what exactly Sebastian Vettel can do to attempt to take back the charge of the world championship.
But all that said, the man of the moment, Daniel Ricciardo, whose second win of the season might spur him to gather similar results would be keen to deliver a repeat performance at the next Grand Prix at Canada.
So are we looking at a three-way constructor’s fight to the 2018 championship, with Red Bull clearly stepping up the game?