F1

What happened at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix?

Daniel Ricciardo wins a bonkers race in Baku, which featured enough chaos and controversy for an entire F1 season.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton: qualified 1st, finished 5th. Valtteri Bottas: qualified 2nd, finished 2nd.
Remember when the Hamilton v Vettel title battle looked set to be a fierce fight where respect remained on both sides? Forget that now, as the gloves well and truly came off in Baku. Did Hamilton brake-test Vettel at the lap 20 race re-start after the safety car, causing Vettel to run into him? Should Vettel have pulled alongside Hamilton and deliberately banged wheels against the Mercedes driver in retaliation? Two wrongs don’t make a right, but the stewards decided that Vettel’s actions were worthy of a 10-second stop-and-go penalty, taking him out of the equation for the win. That victory would surely have been Hamilton’s had the Briton not been called into the pits for safety reasons as the headrest of his car was coming loose, and after Hamilton could only recover to fifth – behind Vettel – the three-time world champion let Vettel have it, calling the German’s driving “a disgrace” before adding “if he wants to prove he is a man we should do it out of the car, we should do it face to face.”
For Bottas, to finish where he started was little short of a miracle after the first lap, where he clattered into Raikkonen’s Ferrari at Turn 2, limped back to the pits with a puncture and was a lap down and dead-last, and then stole second from Stroll at the finish line on the last of the 51 laps. Ordinarily, the Finn’s recovery drive would have been raved about as one for the ages, but his superb efforts were little more than a footnote on a day of chaos and controversy.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo: qualified 10th, finished 1st. Max Verstappen: qualified 5th, did not finish.
Sometimes, words aren’t necessary or appropriate in sport, which is why Ricciardo’s initial reaction to his fifth career win – to burst into laughter – was as spot-on as his driving. The Australian made a rare mistake and crashed in qualifying to start from 10th on the grid, and all looked lost when he had to pit on lap five with his brake temperatures reaching critical levels after picking up some of the debris that littered the circuit after a manic first lap. But Ricciardo stuck with it, and made one of the moves of the season when he sliced past Williams duo Stroll and Massa into the first corner on the re-start after the lap 22 red flag to put himself into podium contention.
When Vettel was penalised and Hamilton forced to pit, Ricciardo inherited the lead, and if we know one thing about the Honey Badger, he’s not a man to let a chance to win a race go begging. Bizarrely, all five of Ricciardo’s F1 victories have come from outside the top three on the grid. While Red Bull celebrated, it was hard not to be sympathetic to Verstappen’s plight, especially after the Dutchman out-qualified noted Saturday specialist Ricciardo for the fourth race running. Engine problems had him out after just 12 laps as he was fighting with Perez for what was third place, which, given what unfolded behind him later on, could well have been a battle for the top step of the podium. Verstappen has now had four non-finishes – all through no fault of his own – in the past six races.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel: qualified 4th, finished 4th. Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 3rd, did not finish.
We’ve given Hamilton his say on the incident with Vettel, so what of the Ferrari driver’s view? “It was quite obvious, I didn’t run into the back of him on purpose,” Vettel said. “I damaged my wing, I think he had a little bit of damage as well. Nothing that would have impacted on the race. It’s just not the way to do it. He’s done it a couple of times.” Vettel’s insistence that he had no idea why he’d been penalised for driving into the side of Hamilton was either ignorance or gamesmanship in the extreme, but to come out of Azerbaijan with a greater advantage in the title race over Hamilton (from 12 points to 14) was a victory of sorts after having to serve such a costly penalty in the pits. Raikkonen spent most of the race being hit by rivals (Bottas) or running over debris scattered by other cars hitting one another, and destroyed the floor of his car when he insisted on driving it rather too quickly back to the pits after a puncture on lap 20. Ferrari managed to fix the problem to get the Finn back out on circuit after the lengthy red flag stoppage, but he tooled around towards the back before calling it quits three laps from home.

Force India
Sergio Perez: qualified 6th, did not finish. Esteban Ocon: qualified 7th, finished 6th.
Force India said it would allow its drivers to fight after its contentious race in Canada, and that decision came back to bite them after Ocon and Perez clashed at the lap 20 re-start after the safety car, Perez losing his front wing and Ocon suffering a puncture as the pink cars tripped over one another, Ocon clouting the kerb at the second corner and running straight into his teammate. Perez’s run of 37 race finishes in a row came to an inglorious end, while Ocon briefly looked set to finish third before the out-of-position trio of Bottas, Vettel and Hamilton swept by in the final 10 laps. Given what happened to the cars ahead of them later on, could Force India have thrown away a chance of victory?

Williams
Felipe Massa: qualified 9th, did not finish. Lance Stroll: qualified 8th, finished 3rd.
Being in the right place at the right time counted for plenty in Baku, but Stroll’s result, while better than expected, was an appropriate reward for a clean weekend of pace and consistency. The Canadian teen barely put a foot wrong in practice, out-qualified veteran teammate Massa for the first time on Saturday, and was entirely convincing on Sunday as he kept his head where plenty didn’t, becoming the first Canadian since Jacques Villeneuve 16 years ago to finish inside the top three. He looked more bothered about tasting the inevitable Ricciardo podium shoey after the race than being pipped at the post by Bottas. Massa was desperately unlucky not to be in the mix for big points and perhaps a podium himself, the Brazilian showing plenty of fight before a rear suspension issue ended his day on lap 25.

McLaren
Fernando Alonso: qualified 16th, finished 9th. Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 19th, finished 12th.
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said Azerbaijan was the “most painful weekend I’ve ever had” after both McLarens were bleeding upwards of 20km/h on the straight and had 75 places of engine component grid penalties (Alonso 40, Vandoorne 35) between them heading into the race. Given that build-up, it was astonishing that both cars made it to the finish, and Alonso scored the team’s first points of the year in ninth. But the Spaniard couldn’t help but wonder if, with an engine that could at least match their rivals for straight-line grunt, whether McLaren could have won. “Hamilton lost his headrest, Vettel was penalised, both the Force Indias were out, Kimi retired …,” he said afterwards.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat: qualified 11th, did not finish. Carlos Sainz: qualified 12th, finished 8th.
The chances of Sainz scoring points looked remote when he was facing the wrong way and last after turn one, the Spaniard having to take avoiding action to miss his teammate as Kvyat cut back onto the circuit after running wide at the start. With chaos coming by the lap, Sainz stayed cool, and four points was the result. Kvyat’s race didn’t last long, the Russian’s car completely shutting down with an electrical failure on lap 10 and causing the first safety car, which set the stage for the insane race that followed.

Haas
Romain Grosjean: qualified 17th, finished 13th. Kevin Magnussen: qualified 13th, finished 7th.
Magnussen was outstanding in Baku, the Dane running in the podium places as the various penalties and accidents played out, and he was still third with 13 laps left before the Bottas-Vettel-Hamilton train swept past. Still, six points in one fell swoop – when you’ve only scored five in the previous seven Grands Prix – made his afternoon, in his own words, “great”. Grosjean had very little to say at all after the race after spending most of the weekend moaning to his team over the radio about a lack of confidence with his brakes, and then to the media that said moaning was being reported on and broadcast by the world TV feed.

Renault
Jolyon Palmer: qualified 20th, did not finish. Nico Hulkenberg: qualified 14th, did not finish.
One remarkable stat from a remarkable race: nine of the 10 teams had a car finish in the points in Baku, with Renault the one to miss out. Palmer was the first retiree with engine problems on lap eight after his car had barbequed itself because of a fuel leak on Saturday, while Hulkenberg hit the wall at Turn 7 on lap 25 in an uncharacteristic error to join his teammate on the sidelines.

Sauber
Marcus Ericsson: qualified 18th, finished 11th. Pascal Wehrlein: qualified 15th, finished 10th.
The smallest team in F1 made big news off it in the lead-up to Azerbaijan, when team principal Monisha Kaltenborn was let go after working for the team in various roles for nearly two decades. Paddock speculation ran rampant in Baku, with the common belief that it was Kaltenborn’s opposition to requests to favour Ericsson over Wehrlein from the team’s Ericsson-aligned financial backers that caused the split. Come Sunday, the Sauber teammates – like so many stablemates in this crazy race – managed to run into one another as they fought for the final point on offer, which eventually went to Wehrlein after the German had impressively made the second phase of qualifying 24 hours earlier.

What happened at the Canadian Grand Prix?

Daniel Ricciardo works up a thirst in Canada to take his third third-place finish in a row, while Mercedes produce a Montreal masterclass.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton: qualified 1st, finished 1st. Valtteri Bottas: qualified 3rd, finished 2nd.

Mercedes 1-2 finishes have been so commonplace since the advent of the V6 turbo hybrid formula in 2014 that it was jarring that Sunday’s quinella in Canada was the Silver Arrows’ first for the season; while a fast-starting Verstappen looked set to mess with Mercedes plans of a Montreal masterclass, the Dutchman’s early demise saw Hamilton cruise untroubled to his sixth win in Canada, and Bottas his third podium at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in as many years. Hamilton’s display, one race after a disappointing Grand Prix in Monaco, was a timely reminder that when the Briton is on it, he’s close to untouchable. After setting the fastest-ever lap of Montreal (1min 11.450secs) to take his 65th career pole and match Ayrton Senna’s mark on Saturday – an achievement for which he received a replica Senna 1987 helmet and seemed genuinely humbled afterwards – Hamilton drive in a manner his hero would have approved of 24 hours later, leading from lights to flag and setting the fastest lap of the race to win 10 years after his maiden success at the same circuit. Bottas was never on Hamilton’s pace even before Verstappen retired, and ran the more durable softer-compound Pirelli tyre for much of the race as Mercedes covered their bases. The margin between the two? A whopping 19.783secs after 70 laps.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo: qualified 6th, finished 3rd. Max Verstappen: qualified 5th, did not finish.

Verstappen looked the Bull most likely to make the top three after the first few hundred metres on Sunday, the Dutchman making an incredible start from fifth to challenge Hamilton into Turn 1, and changing the course of the race as he did so, sweeping into the corner across the bows of Vettel’s Ferrari and forcing the championship leader into an early pit stop. Hamilton soon cleared off, but Verstappen was in a solid second before a battery power issue saw him forced to park on the exit of Turn 2 just 11 laps in. Ricciardo then picked up the pieces on a circuit where Red Bull came in fearing the worst, keeping third under incessant pressure from Force India duo Perez and Ocon for the majority of his second stint after pitting for soft tyres on lap 18. It was the Australian’s third podium in a row, and his first in Canada since 2014, when he won a Grand Prix for the first time. As a test of his mental capacity, it was a stern examination that he passed with flying colours. Getting esteemed British actor Patrick Stewart to join him in a post-race shoey on the podium was something he wouldn’t have envisaged when he started from sixth on the grid.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel: qualified 2nd, finished 4th. Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 4th, finished 7th.

Vettel looked like he’d need all of his 25-point championship lead from Monaco when he pitted just five laps into Sunday’s race, his front wing damaged after the clash with Verstappen. From 18th and dead-last, the German carved his way back through the pack, making a mockery of those who still question his overtaking ability after four world titles, and his audacious pass of Ocon’s Force India into the first corner five laps from home was both risky and brilliantly executed. Managing to score 12 points and finish six-tenths of a second behind old teammate Ricciardo for the final podium position was a superb salvage job that saw him leave Canada with a 12-point championship advantage. It broke his run of six straight podiums to start 2017, but in the circumstances, it was a strong result. Raikkonen, so fast in Monaco and so frustrated after it, reverted to type in Canada; the Finn was nearly seven-tenths of a second adrift of Hamilton’s pole time, and then made a poor start to be sixth by the time the field got halfway around the first lap. After the controversy of Monaco, Ferrari was spared having to make a tough call to potentially ask Raikkonen to move aside for a flying Vettel in the latter laps when the Finn’s car started to run into brake problems with nine laps left, and he limped home to hang onto fourth – just – from Ricciardo in the drivers’ standings.

Force India
Sergio Perez: qualified 8th, finished 5th. Esteban Ocon: qualified 9th, finished 6th.

Force India has been the feel-good story for F1 neutrals in 2017, the little team that could placing both cars in the points in five of the opening six races to be a clear best of the rest behind Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. But all of the joy and back-slapping stopped sharply on Sunday; when Perez in fourth could make no ground on Ricciardo, Ocon asked his team to be allowed past his teammate to have a crack at the Australian, the team agreed, but Perez refused. What could have been a chance of a rare podium finish never materialised, and to make matters worse, Vettel stormed past both Pink Panthers to steal fourth with three laps to go. Perez was indignant, Ocon furious, and the team had 18 points that, in any other circumstances, would have been something worth celebrating.

Williams
Felipe Massa: qualified 7th, did not finish. Lance Stroll: qualified 17th, finished 9th.

Stroll has looked like a fish out of water for most of his opening six races, so it was quite the surprise that the 18-year-old, who grew up not far from the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, played his cards so right on Sunday to score his first world championship points, and showed some assertive overtaking prowess along the way. The teenager was part elated, part relieved to finally make a contribution to Williams’ 2017 points tally, and it was a timely day to do it after Massa’s race lasted all of two corners, the Brazilian taken out by Sainz’s spinning Toro Rosso as he braked for Turn 3 on the opening lap. Bizarre stat fact of the weekend: in 15 years of racing in Montreal, Saturday was the first time Massa had out-qualified a teammate in Canada.

McLaren
Fernando Alonso: qualified 12th, did not finish. Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 16th, finished 14th.

Was Canada the beginning of the end of the McLaren-Honda axis, which promised so much in its second F1 guise but has so dreadfully underdelivered? Before the on-track action kicked off, McLaren executive director Zak Brown said Honda was “lost” on how to solve its ongoing engine problems, which Honda immediately refuted – despite the fact a scheduled Honda engine upgrade for Canada never saw the light of day as it wasn’t ready in time. Alonso said his Friday was “totally wasted” after a hydraulics issue with his engine stopped him in first practice, while teammate Vandoorne had a problem with the hybrid generator in his car’s engine on Friday. It wasn’t much better in the race, Alonso flirting with scoring McLaren’s first points of the year before retiring with an engine failure two laps from home, and Vandoorne finishing second-last as McLaren was 27km/h slower than the Ferraris down the back straight. McLaren brass were seen in discussions with Mercedes head honchos over the weekend, and getting a divorce from Honda may be the only thing that could entice their greatest asset – Alonso – to stick around for next year, especially after the Spaniard said he would definitely stay if the team won this year. Considering McLaren hasn’t yet scored a point in 2017, that’s a complete pipedream.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat: qualified 11th, did not finish. Carlos Sainz: qualified 13th, did not finish.

A Sunday to forget for STR in Canada, Sainz being collected by Grosjean’s Haas and then careering into Massa on the first lap, and Kvyat’s car getting stuck on the grid for the warm-up lap before the Russian was penalised for taking up his original grid spot rather than starting at the back. An engine failure finally stopped him in the pits on lap 58.

Haas
Romain Grosjean: qualified 14th, finished 10th. Kevin Magnussen: qualified 18th, finished 12th.

Grosjean was scathing of Sainz after the first-lap incident – “what a mental guy” he screamed over the radio – but the Frenchman was slightly happier after 70 laps when he bagged the final point on offer, just holding off Palmer’s Renault and teammate Magnussen to finish 10th after having to stop after the first lap with front wing damage. Magnussen rolled the dice with an atypical strategy – he was one of just two drivers to start on the more durable supersoft tyres – but any early-race gains went down the drain when he was given a five-second time penalty for overtaking under the virtual safety car called upon to remove Verstappen’s stricken Red Bull from the circuit when it broke down.

Renault
Jolyon Palmer: qualified 15th, finished 11th. Nico Hulkenberg: qualified 10th, finished 8th.

Stroll’s ninth place leaves Hulkenberg as the only driver who has scored all of his team’s points in 2017, the German easily the pick of the Renault pair to finish eighth after a top-10 qualifying effort on Saturday. Hulkenberg was more than half a second clear of Palmer in both Friday practice sessions, qualified eight-tenths of a second and five places ahead of the Briton, and was the final driver not lapped by race-winner Hamilton as he took his fourth top-10 result in seven races. Palmer at least got out of the bottom five in qualifying for the second time this year, but hasn’t beaten his teammate in qualifying or a race yet this season, and doesn’t look likely to either.

Sauber
Marcus Ericsson: qualified 19th, finished 13th. Pascal Wehrlein: qualified 20th, finished 15th.

Wehrlein had nothing to lose by taking a new gearbox for Sunday’s race and starting from the pit lane after a messy crash at Turn 1 in qualifying, but could make no headway and finished last; Ericsson was an anonymous 13th as Sauber did little more than make up the numbers in Montreal.

Making sense of the Monaco Grand Prix

What happened at the Monaco Grand Prix? How did several drivers gain places at a circuit where passing is difficult at the best of times, let alone with the 2017 iteration of wider Formula One machinery? What makes Daniel Ricciardo so special in Monte Carlo? And did Ferrari lose the race with one driver so they could win it with another? (Answer: yes).

Here’s some answers courtesy of a chat with the 2017 Strategy Podcast: by Apex Race Manager, with the very affable Michael Lamonato as host. ‘Old mate’ gets a mention, and I even (sort of) praise Kimi Raikkonen, which happens as often as Monaco Grands Prix feature one breathtaking overtaking move after another.

Check it out here. 

What happened at the Monaco Grand Prix?

Daniel Ricciardo makes it three Monaco podiums in four years, while the Prancing Horse wins the most famous F1 race of all, but not without controversy.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton: qualified 14th, finished 7th. Valtteri Bottas: qualified 3rd, finished 4th.

Sunday’s race around the streets of the Principality was just the fourth since 2014 where at least one Mercedes didn’t make the podium; for the record, the others were Hungary and Singapore 2015, and Spain last year. For Bottas, scoring his first points in Monaco would have taken some of that pain away, but on a rare weekend where teammate Hamilton was completely out of the picture, fourth would have been the bare minimum he would have wanted after qualifying just 0.045secs from pole position 24 hours earlier. The Finn spent most of the race withstanding pressure from the Red Bull of Verstappen, initially for the final spot on the podium, but later for fourth as Ricciardo jumped them both in the pit stops. While Bottas’ weekend was relatively straightforward, Hamilton’s was anything but, the Briton admitting that finding the sweet spot for setting up his Mercedes was a “mystery” after qualifying a poor 14th on Saturday, his one chance at a good lap to sneak into Q3 thwarted when Vandoorne crashed in front of him at the exit of the Swimming Pool complex. Hamilton had nothing to lose by running a marathon opening stint of 46 laps, and to gain six places from where he started – and to only drop 19 world championship points to Vettel on a weekend when it could have been so much worse – was as good as things could have been in the circumstances. “The team said in the strategy meeting this morning I could only get 10th, so I am happy,” he said.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo: qualified 5th, finished 3rd. Max Verstappen: qualified 4th, finished 5th.

After last year and THAT shambolic pit stop that cost him victory, Ricciardo knows a little about Monaco disappointment, and that misery looked set to extend to this year when he qualified half a second behind teammate Verstappen on Saturday, blaming the team for releasing him onto the track into traffic in what he called a “stupid, silly error”. The usual Ricciardo smile returned on Sunday though, a magical five-lap stint after Bottas and Verstappen pitted seeing him leapfrog the pair of them into the final podium spot after his own stop, his one scary moment thereafter coming when he brushed the barriers at the first corner following the safety car re-start with 11 laps remaining. A third podium in his last four races in Monaco and a second consecutive third place after finishing in the same spot in Barcelona two weeks earlier was reward for his searing pace when it counted. Verstappen finished a race in Monaco for the first time, but was less than impressed to find out he was behind his teammate after the stops, and could never get close enough to Bottas to mount a serious challenge as the laps wound down.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel: qualified 2nd, finished 1st. Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 1st, finished 2nd.

With Hamilton out of the picture for a race win, Ferrari ended up with the perfect result for its world championship aspirations. Vettel’s victory was the first for the famed red team at Monaco since 2001, and one that extended his margin over the Mercedes driver to 25 points six races into the season. But was it a victory that owed itself to a pre-arranged team order, or one where the German simply made the best of what was, in hindsight, the better strategy? Raikkonen took his first pole since the 2008 French Grand Prix on Saturday and controlled the race for the first 34 laps until his pit stop on Sunday, but Vettel stayed out, pumped in a series of searing laps, and jumped the Finn in the pits to take a lead he never looked like relinquishing. Vettel has now finished either first or second in every race this year, and with a race win worth of points as a margin after just six Grands Prix, is sitting pretty atop the standings. Raikkonen’s facial expressions and immediate media interactions after the race didn’t give away much – they rarely do – but the veteran was clearly not amused that his best chance of snapping a win drought that goes back to the 2013 Australian GP went begging. “It’s still second place, but it doesn’t count a lot in my books,” he eventually said.

Force India
Sergio Perez: qualified 7th, finished 13th. Esteban Ocon: qualified 16th, finished 12th.

A run of seven straight races with both cars in the points – five this season – came to a crashing halt for Force India at Monaco, with Ocon in particular labouring through a difficult first race meeting at one of the world’s most unforgiving circuits. The young Frenchman crashed at the end of the final practice session on Saturday and could only qualify his hastily-rebuilt car 16th, and any chance of points evaporated when he had to make a second unscheduled pit stop on lap 40 with a left rear puncture. While Ocon finished second-last, teammate Perez was last as a 15-race run of top-10 results came to an end. The Mexican qualified strongly but pitted on lap 16 with a broken front wing, and was always going to struggle to score after that, a late-race coming-together with Kvyat’s Toro Rosso sending the Russian into retirement, and Perez back into the pits for a third time. Fresh tyres helped him set the fastest lap of the race three laps from the end, but that was little consolation on a rough day for a team that has over-achieved all season.

Williams
Felipe Massa: qualified 15th, finished 9th. Lance Stroll: qualified 18th, did not finish.

Massa was one of several drivers to not get a representative lap time in after Vandoorne’s qualifying crash, so to finish in the points from a lowly starting position of 15th was a decent result, a late-race pit stop for fresh rubber under the safety car seeing the veteran salvage something from an afternoon spent in a raging midfield battle. The Brazilian continues to plough a lone furrow at Williams, with Stroll failing to finish for the fourth time in six races, this time because of overheating brakes. The Canadian teenager admitted in the lead-up to Monaco that he’d been getting the track wrong on Playstation, and quickly got it wrong on the real thing too, crashing at Casino Square, almost inevitably, in Thursday practice. His home Grand Prix in Montreal – and a whole heap of pressure – is his next test.

McLaren
Jenson Button: qualified 9th, did not finish. Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 10th, did not finish.

For a team that sits last in the constructors’ championship and one that may have squandered its best chance for points all season, McLaren certainly generated plenty of headlines at Monaco, not least because of the return of Button as a super-sub as Fernando Alonso turned his attentions to the Indianapolis 500 half a world away. The 2009 world champion qualified a credible ninth, but Alonso would have sympathised with his old teammate as Button was sent to the back of the grid with a 15-place penalty for having to change engine components. The Briton started from the pit lane and ran around in either last or second-last until lap 60, when he clumsily lunged at Wehrlein’s Sauber and sent the German’s car onto its side against the barriers while wrecking his own, causing a safety car. Teammate Vandoorne made it into Q3 but couldn’t take part after crashing in qualifying, took a three-place penalty for nerfing Massa off in the last race in Spain, got himself into position to score the team’s first points of 2017, and then dropped it at the first corner with Perez in hot pursuit with 12 laps to go and hit the barriers.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat: qualified 11th, did not finish. Carlos Sainz: qualified 6th, finished 6th.

Sainz admitted he didn’t expect to qualify sixth on Saturday, and that surprise gave way to elation 24 hours later when he finished in the same position he started despite Hamilton breathing down his neck in the manic final laps. It was the Spaniard’s best result of the season to date, and one that saw him jump to eighth in the drivers’ championship. Kvyat was desperately unlucky not to join him in the top 10 after being assaulted by Perez’s Force India at Rascasse and having to park up with seven laps to go.

Haas
Romain Grosjean: qualified 8th, finished 8th. Kevin Magnussen: qualified 13th, finished 10th.

The second-year American team made a change to its 2017 livery from Monaco onwards to allow the car to stand out more on TV, and Haas stood out on track for the right reasons too after a first two-car points result for the season. Grosjean survived a fraught qualifying session where he had two spins to start eighth and finish in the same spot, while Magnussen made one of the better starts in the field to jump two rivals into the first corner, and overcame an unscheduled pit stop for a puncture to hold off Palmer’s Renault for the final points-scoring position on offer.

Renault
Jolyon Palmer: qualified 17th, finished 11th. Nico Hulkenberg: qualified 12th, did not finish.

Monaco started badly and didn’t improve a lot for Renault, with Palmer still seeking his first points of 2017, and Hulkenberg the first retirement of the race with a gearbox drama on lap 16. The yellow team’s problems started in practice on Thursday, when Hulkenberg had an electrical failure that prevented him from doing any laps in the opening practice session, and Palmer blowing an engine in FP2 after only eight laps.

Sauber
Marcus Ericsson: qualified 20th, did not finish. Pascal Wehrlein: qualified 19th, did not finish.

Spectators were understandably concerned when Wehrlein ended up stuck in his car while it was tipped onto its left side after being flipped by Button, an incident that came only months after the young German was in an accident at the off-season Race of Champions in Miami that left him with a back injury and caused him to miss the opening two races of the year in Australia and China. Fortunately Wehrlein was OK, but Monaco was quite the come-down after his strong run last time out in Spain. Ericsson qualified last after smacking the wall at the Nouvelle Chicane in qualifying, complained that his car was “so difficult to drive” in the race, and then crashed at the first corner on lap 65 under safety car conditions in a moment that won’t go down as his finest in an F1 car.

The Dan Diaries: Why Monaco is magic

Daniel Ricciardo writes about the most famous F1 race of all – and why street circuits sort out the men from the boys.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM

It’s about to be the busiest week of the year with Monaco this weekend, which is why I’m spending some time now just cruising, chilling at home in my apartment, and waiting for the chaos to begin! But the chaos is definitely cool, and it’s the one race of the year that the time before you get out on track for first practice can’t go quickly enough.

I’ve lived here now since the middle of 2013, and there’s definitely no other week like the race week. Monaco changes so much from what it normally is that I hardly recognise the place to be honest. It feels like a real race track, and I’m not thinking ‘there’s a cafe I eat at’ or ‘there’s a street I ride my Vespa down’ or whatever. All these restaurants and bars have pop-ups that just emerge for the week, and with all of the road closures, it doesn’t really feel like home at all, even though you’re at home surrounded by your own stuff. The boats in the harbour get bigger too, not that they’re ever that small here …

The logistics of the whole event are pretty unreal too when you think of what a small space it is. The Porsche support paddock is near where I live, and the World Series paddock is on the other side of Monaco altogether. There’s cars stashed all around the city, which is kinda cool. It always amazes me how fast everything gets packed up afterwards too. The grandstands, those guys don’t muck around – give it a week or two after the race, and things are more or less back to normal, which is pretty impressive.

Probably the weirdest thing for me with Monaco is the routine you get into for the weekend when you live here. You wake up in your own bed, kick around your apartment and then start the journey to work. Walk down to the port, get onto a boat, and then onto the Energy Station which is Red Bull’s base for the weekend. It’s a nice way to get to work! It’s the little things like that that mean I can’t ever see the novelty of Monaco wearing off on race week. I’ve done F1 for a few years now and there are things like, say, testing, where it doesn’t give you the excitement it once did. But Monaco on race week – you’d never take it for granted.

Thursday practice is all about recalibrating your brain to just how tight this place is, getting your eyes to adjust to seeing barriers and not grass or gravel run-offs. I always think that some drivers are born with some street circuit abilities and are confident, and others aren’t. The first time I ever did a street circuit was in Macau, and I really didn’t know what sort of driver I’d be – I’d either be shit-scared of walls, or love them! But I loved them straight away. When one driver would, say, clip a barrier and not want to do that again, I’d be more like ‘let’s do that again if it makes my lap faster’. Walking that tightrope is just so cool. But Thursday at Monaco has to be a gradual process. You need as much track time as you can get, so going too hard too early and smashing up the car can ruin the whole weekend, so you build and build as the sessions go on. The idea is that by Saturday afternoon in Q3 when you have that one lap to nail it in qualifying, you’re completely ready to push that little bit more.

Picking a favourite part of the track is hard because it’s all so good, but Tabac and the entry to the Swimming Pool section are pretty special. They’re the fastest corners on the track and I like the fast stuff, plus you have to use all of the track. Tabac, the commitment you need is pretty immense, and you see the guys with the confidence on street circuits have the car pinned right up against the outside barrier, whereas some other guys will be half a metre away. And Swimming Pool, jumping across the kerbs … so good. The hardest corner? Turn 1, Sainte Devote, which is why you see a lot of people drop it in the barriers there. It’s tricky, the apex is a bit blind, and you normally get there in qualifying when your tyres are at their coldest. If you lock a brake, you’re in the barrier or have to bail out and go left down the escape road, so your lap is gone. For me, that’s always been the corner on the track where if you get it right, it feels seriously good. It’s the one corner where you always feel you could have got a bit more out of it, but you’re better off being at 98 per cent there than over the top.

Last year I got pole and did a 1min 13.6sec lap, which was seven-tenths faster than I’d done all weekend before that. It was the most intense 73 seconds of the year, and I can remember the lap pretty clearly even now. That first corner, I nailed it in terms of the braking point and not locking a wheel, and I remember getting out of Turn 1 and feeling really confident that something good could be about to happen. When I got to Mirabeau, there’s a banking right on the apex, and your front wheel either drops into it or skates across it. The front wheel dropped perfectly, and that gave me even more confidence. And then the last sector of the lap, it’s the part I like best and where I feel I really come into my own. Add all of that together – it’s my only pole position so it’s not like I have heaps of them to remember, but it was a pretty sweet lap because even now, re-thinking it corner by corner, I can’t see where I could have realistically got much more out of it.

There’s so much going on socially during this week that there’s distractions everywhere if you’re looking for them. I actually find that motivating – there’s all these people here for the show, Monaco is the centre of attention, and I’m in the middle of it – there’s a chance to be the hero of the scene! Every year I have friends who come to this race, and part of me is envious because they’re able to soak the whole experience in. Even if you’re not at the events and the parties, you still feel the atmosphere. The good thing for me is that if I have mates come to other races that are a bit quieter, I worry that maybe they won’t have as much to do and I feel more obliged to make sure they’re having a good time and all of that. Here? I can let them get on with it – point them in the direction of some bars and hopefully join them Sunday night if everything goes like I want it to!

What happened at the Spanish Grand Prix?

Daniel Ricciardo takes his first podium of 2017 as Mercedes and Ferrari fight for glory in Barcelona.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton: qualified 1st, finished 1st. Valtteri Bottas: qualified 3rd, did not finish.

Mercedes elected to zig where Ferrari zagged in Barcelona, and the result was Hamilton’s second victory of 2017, one that reduced his deficit in the drivers’ championship to Vettel to just six points. The German beat Hamilton into the first corner, and Mercedes then elected to run the slower medium-compound tyre for Hamilton’s second stint, meaning he’d be on the softer rubber at the end. Hamilton then fitted the faster tyre on lap 34 under the virtual safety car caused by Vandoorne’s retirement and began his quest to chase Vettel down, the pair touching wheels at Turn 1 on lap 38 before the Mercedes came past for good five laps later. Such was the pace of the front two that they lapped everyone up to and including fourth-placed Perez, with the race featuring the fewest cars on the lead lap (three) at the end since the 2008 British GP. By contrast, Bottas’ weekend was compromised when the team had to re-fit the engine he’d used in the opening four races of the season before final practice, and while he qualified third, the Russian GP winner’s main impact on the race came when he nudged Raikkonen into Verstappen at the first corner, ending the Sundays of the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers before they really started. Bottas was on course for a distant third-place finish behind the flying front pair, but his old engine finally packed it in on lap 39, meaning he’s now a whopping 41 points behind Vettel’s series-leading tally of 104.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo: qualified 6th, finished 3rd. Max Verstappen: qualified 5th, did not finish.

After non-finishes through no fault of his own in Australia and Russia, Ricciardo was pleased to take his first podium of 2017, but only to a point; he was the only car not lapped by Hamilton and Vettel and nearly 74 seconds from the win as Red Bull’s much-anticipated aero upgrade for Spain did little to arrest the chasm between it and the dominant two teams. While he’ll take it, it’s hard to remember another of Ricciardo’s 19 career podiums where he’s been more anonymous or fortunate, given Bottas, Raikkonen and Verstappen all retired after qualifying ahead of him. A year after his Barcelona breakthrough on his first weekend for Red Bull, Verstappen’s race was over within 30 seconds after a strong qualifying performance where he’d beaten his teammate by half a second. Monaco – a bogey circuit for the Dutchman since he made his F1 debut and one where Ricciardo is typically sublime – is up next.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel: qualified 2nd, finished 2nd. Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 4th, did not finish.

Sunday made it five podiums from five races this season for Vettel, and while he finished in the wheeltracks of a Mercedes for the second race running, it could have so easily been worse for the four-time world champion. Ferrari frantically installed a new engine in the two hours between final practice and qualifying on Saturday, Vettel admitting it was “a miracle’ that he was able to take part in qualifying at all, let alone miss out on pole by 0.051secs to Hamilton after locking up in the final sector. The team was tempted to take a late pit stop to change to the faster soft-compound Pirellis to chase Hamilton down given the rest were so far behind, but didn’t roll the dice and banked 18 points as a result. Raikkonen could do little to avoid his first-lap clash with Bottas, and looks destined to do little more than play rear gunner for Vettel for the rest of the year given he’s already 55 points adrift of his teammate after five Grands Prix.

Force India
Sergio Perez: qualified 8th, finished 4th. Esteban Ocon: qualified 10th, finished 5th.

Force India’s perfect points-scoring record for its two drivers hit new heights in Spain, with Perez in the top 10 for the 15th race running, and Ocon achieving a career-best result in fifth. Remarkably, the little team that could is now just 19 points behind Red Bull for third in the constructors’ race, and has more points than Toro Rosso, Renault and Williams combined.

Williams
Felipe Massa: qualified 9th, finished 13th. Lance Stroll: qualified 18th, finished 16th.

There’s no way to sugar-coat a wretched Sunday for Williams in Barcelona, with Massa’s race wrecked by his coming together with old Ferrari teammate Alonso on the run to the second corner on the first lap, an incident that forced the McLaren driver into the gravel and left the veteran Brazilian with a right-front puncture and a long limp back to the pits. He still finished ahead of Stroll through, with the Canadian teenager continuing to look well out of his depth at F1 level after qualifying nine spots behind a driver who elected to retire last off-season before coming back after Bottas jumped to Mercedes. A Williams driver finishing last suggests, for now at least, Stroll just doesn’t cut it, no matter how much funding his connections brings to the team.

McLaren
Fernando Alonso: qualified 7th, finished 12th. Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 19th, did not finish.

After he didn’t even make the start in Sochi, Alonso’s first lap in practice at his home GP lasted all of three corners before another Honda engine let go. The Spaniard’s response – to return to his hotel to play tennis with his trainer while FP1 continued on track – gave an insight into his mood, but he channelled that fury and more besides on Saturday when he produced what will surely go down as one of the laps of 2017 to qualify seventh, hauling his recalcitrant car into a position it had no business being in thanks to 80-odd seconds of pure genius.

Any chance of points for the combative Alonso were lost thanks to his first-lap incident with Massa, but he at least saw the chequered flag for the first time this year before flying to Indianapolis to start his preparations for the Indy 500 immediately after the race.

Vandoorne had another torrid weekend, falling in Q1 for the fifth race running and then breaking his front suspension when he inexplicably turned in on Massa as the pair fought into Turn 1 on lap 34, ending up stranded in the nearby gravel trap and ensuring he’d take a three-place grid penalty into the next race. McLaren now sits 10th and last in the constructors’ championship, and is the only team without points after five races.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat: qualified 20th, finished 9th. Carlos Sainz: qualified 12th, finished 7th.

The chances of Toro Rosso placing two cars in the points looked remote on Friday when Kvyat and Sainz struggled in practice, and, for Kvyat at least, downright impossible after Saturday when he qualified a dispiriting last. But the Russian made a great start and got the slower medium tyre stint of his race over and done with on lap one, and equalled his ninth place in Australia for a season-best result. Sainz continued to impress in his third Toro Rosso season, keeping up his perfect record of scoring points when he’s seen the chequered flag so far this year. With eight points between its drivers, STR leapfrogged Williams into fifth place in the constructors’ championship.

Haas
Romain Grosjean: qualified 14th, finished 10th. Kevin Magnussen: qualified 11th, finished 14th.

Pain for one Haas driver was pleasure for the other, with Magnussen’s desperately unlucky puncture on the penultimate lap after coming off second-best in a clash with Kvyat necessitating a late-race pit stop that elevated teammate Grosjean into the points, as the downcast Dane was left to finish in 14th place. After his best qualifying effort since 2014, Magnussen deserved better. Grosjean had a ragged qualifying with a pair of spins, but 10th means he now leads his teammate by a point in the drivers’ standings.

Renault
Jolyon Palmer: qualified 17th, finished 15th. Nico Hulkenberg: qualified 13th, finished 6th.

Like Williams, Renault remains a team where one driver is doing all of the heavy lifting, Hulkenberg extending his qualifying head-to-head over Palmer to 5-0 and scoring eight points for sixth place to top his tally earned in the previous four races combined. The German benefitted from the chaos of the opening lap to leap up the order from outside the top 10, and stayed there to take his – and Renault’s – tally to 14 for the season, already more than it managed in a disastrous 2016. Palmer did manage to set the sixth-fastest lap of the race, but electing to start on the medium-compound tyre from near the back did him few favours, and the former GP2 champ has now managed one career point in 26 races to date.

Sauber
Marcus Ericsson: qualified 16th, finished 11th. Pascal Wehrlein: qualified 15th, finished 8th.

A quite brilliant day for the Swiss minnows, with Wehrlein’s marathon first stint – he came in on lap 34 under virtual safety car conditions and pitted just once – setting up an eighth-place result that came with four precious points to lift Sauber from the foot of the constructors’ standings. The German finished seventh at the flag, but was penalised five seconds for a pit lane entry infringement at that sole stop, which dropped him behind Sainz in the final classification. Ericsson was two laps behind Hamilton, but 11th made for his best race result of the season so far.

Daniel Ricciardo’s Spanish lessons

How different is the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in the fastest cars F1 has ever seen? We asked the Red Bull Racing star.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM

Ask any Formula One driver to draw you a map of the circuit they can recall with the greatest accuracy, and there’s a fair chance the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will appear in front of you.

Why? Most F1 drivers have spent more time lapping the Spanish circuit than any other, mostly because of its use as a pre-season testing venue of choice in the northern hemisphere winter while the rest of Europe shivers in February. Every corner, every straight, every camber change – F1 drivers have this track down-pat. Or at least they did, until this season.

Wider cars with more downforce and bigger, grippier tyres greeted the F1 pilots when they arrived in Barcelona for pre-season testing three months ago, and for those drivers who have been pounding around the Spanish track for years, it was quite an eye-opener. When the rule changes for 2017 were announced in 2015, Nico Rosberg set pole for the Spanish GP with a lap of 1min 24.681secs. This year, in pre-season testing, Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari set the benchmark of 1:18.635, a whopping six seconds faster than just two years ago.

For the drivers, 2017 has meant recalibrating their brains for the fastest cars F1 has ever produced. At all four races so far this year – Australia, China, Bahrain and Russia – the pole position times have smashed the overall circuit lap records, some of which had stood for 13 years.

This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix is the first time the drivers arrive at a track knowing exactly what to expect from this new generation of cars, and for Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, it’s a chance to test his memory on what he learned back in February. “They’re a lot different to drive anywhere compared to last year’s cars,” he says, “but this time, we know what we’re getting ourselves into.”

Which sections of the 4.655km track below are a game-changer compared to last year? Our affable Aussie highlights four bits below to keep an eye on when you’re watching round five of the season this weekend.

Turns 2-3

As Ricciardo highlighted earlier this year, the revered Turn 3 at Barcelona has gone from being a 220km/h corner last year – no walk in the park – to an eye-watering flat-out 255km/h right-hander that places massive strain on the drivers’ necks. “It’s a big jump, not a gradual one,” he says.

What’s more, Turn 2, the sharp left-hander that sets up the long run into 3, has become a challenge in its own right.

“Turn 2, I think there were a few laps in winter testing where it was full-throttle,” Ricciardo grins.

“If you set a lap up good and stayed tight on the exit, you could do Turn 2 AND Turn 3 full, so that was a big difference – and very cool!”

Turn 7

There was nothing particularly special about this corner in the past, other than seeing how much of the inside kerb the drivers would dare to take as they strained to save valuable milliseconds in qualifying. In 2017-spec F1 machinery? Ricciardo’s verdict: “sweet”.

“Turn 7, the little left-hand flick, that was a lot quicker in these cars than I can ever remember it,” he says.

“That’s only ever been a fourth-gear corner, and now it’s fifth gear. So, intense!”

Turn 9

Along with Turn 3, this is the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya’s signature corner. The right-hander comes at you over a crest, meaning the car feels light as the drivers are stomping on the loud pedal to blast down the back straight. Attempting to keep your foot buried in the throttle for this turn in testing became a game within a game for the drivers, and we saw several spinners as the tyres simply couldn’t cope with the entry speed.

“With Turn 9, the right-hander into the back straight, if we get a headwind there this weekend, we could take that one full (throttle) as well,” Ricciardo says.

“(Teammate) Max (Verstappen) tried it in testing but ran out of road and had to lift out of it. But in these cars, this one is super-quick.”

Turn 16

Barcelona doesn’t quite save the best for last, but it’s not far off. While the last section of the lap isn’t the flat-out blast that it once was before the current configuration of corners were brought in before 2007, it’s still a challenge – although Ricciardo admits to considering what it would be like with the former layout.

“With these new cars, it makes me wonder about the last sequence of corners where we can see the track that MotoGP has used and F1 used to with the two high-speed right-handers,” he says.

“I never got to drive those with the old layout by the time I came into F1, but in these cars – wow! The track is always physical anyway, but that would have made it something else for your neck. Brutal.”

As it is, the new cars have added a physical element to what had become a corner that was only occasionally a challenge.

“The very last corner has been full with very low fuel in the past, but on high fuel and when the tyres wear, that’s been pretty tricky,” he says.

“But the grip and downforce now is so good that in testing this year on our long runs, that was still easily flat.”