Monaco is usually Daniel Ricciardo’s favourite race but the 2021 edition turned into a nightmare for the Aussie.
Ricciardo has four podiums in Monaco but he won’t be rushing to remember this race any time soon.
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From the beginning of the weekend, the Aussie was on struggle street, claiming two 15th finishes in the first two practice sessions, a 13th in P3 and qualifying in 12th, nearly a full second slower than teammate Lando Norris.
The main race didn’t get any better for Ricciardo. He moved up to 11th on the grid after Charles Leclerc was unable to start because of a gearbox issue, but dropped down two places soon after lights out.
He was then stuck behind Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen for a majority of the race with the thin streets of Monaco making it almost impossible to overtake.
Remarkably, Ricciardo’s fastest lap was faster than Norris’ best effort but the Aussie was clearly more inconsistent.
Norris drove a hell of a race, crossing the line third for his third F1 podium, behind Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, after Valtteri Bottas joined Leclerc with an early exit, even surviving tyre issues when he complained over team radio that his car was “undriveable”.
A big test of how good a driver’s season has been is the comparison between teammates, with Norris claiming a massive win in that series — notching a better result than Ricciardo for the fourth time in five races.
Norris also claimed massive bragging rights on the 52nd lap, with Ricciardo forced to face the ultimate indignity of being lapped by his teammate.
Lando Norris going past Daniel Ricciardo on the overlap.Source:FOX SPORTS
“I have a tear in my eye here for Daniel Ricciardo,” Sky Sports analyst Martin Brundle said as Norris bore down on Ricciardo.
“That’s an ouch moment isn’t it. It hurts for Daniel Ricciardo.”
Fellow commentator David Croft added: “This livery looks great and McLaren were hoping to see who two cars on the track together on the streets of Monaco, but not like this. Norris laps Ricciardo.”
Former Red Bull teammate and eventual race winner Verstappen also lapped Ricciardo, as did Sainz, the man the Honey Badger replaced at McLaren.
Ricciardo being lapped by Norris breaks my heart. He seems to be falling behind this season.
Hard to watch for all Aussies as Lando laps Ricciardo. Can only imagine how he's feeling as a former winner at Monaco, coupled with a difficult start to his time with McLaren. #MonacoGP#F1#Monaco
‘Most painful night’ of Ricciardo’s career
Sky Sports’ Paul di Resta said Ricciardo may feel like he’s at his lowest ebb after this latest performance.
“This is going to be the most painful night he’s ever going to have in his Formula One career,” di Resta said. “Forget that win that was taken away from him here with the pit stop (in 2016), this one to be lapped …
“All to do with qualifying, all to do with where you are in terms of position, his speed wasn’t bad at times during this Grand Prix, but he is not gelling with this car yet. He needs to change technique. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s working a few more days in that simulator trying to master it.”
It’s been a brutal weekend for Ricciardo.Source:AFP
Speaking after the race, Ricciardo was still smiling, but said he was already working at forgetting this weekend.
“I think the whole weekend was simply just a weekend to forget, for me personally,” Ricciardo said. “Obviously car 4 (Norris) and the rest of the team got a podium and I obviously want to congratulate them and they got it right.
“I don’t even know if we got it wrong, we just never got going. We didn’t really do a crazy different set-up, the cars are, I want to say, nearly identical from a set-up point of view, I’m not really trying to be too clever with that either, I’ve got more to learn with this car than Lando does, so I’m not trying to be too different. Trying to follow suit and move forward but just a strange weekend really from the get-go and one to forget.
“I’m probably not going to over-analyse this one, just move forward for Baku and go from there.”
Ricciardo added that he would look into the issues that he faced across the weekend but would also look to take some time to reset ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in a fortnight.
“This year there have certainly been those races where I’ve got to find a bit more but it will come, but this weekend was more of an anomaly,” Ricciardo said.
“Such a big difference and getting lapped — it might be the first time — I don’t really know what to say.
“I’ll definitely look into it, but I think when it’s a weekend like this and it was as far off as I was, probably best to step away for a few days.”
Sainz feels Ricciardo’s ‘strange’ McLaren pain
Daniel Ricciardo wasn’t smiling in Monaco this time around.Source:FOX SPORTS
While it was a tough weekend at the office for Ricciardo, in a pre-taped package for Sky Sports, the West Australian revealed he wasn’t the only one who struggled in the McLaren.
He opened up on a conversation he had with the former occupant of his seat Sainz, who failed to warn him how difficult it was in the McLaren.
“I bumped into Carlos, I don’t know when it was, not too long ago and he said, ‘What do you think? Strange huh?’,” Ricciardo said. “I was like, ‘Thanks for telling me’.
“But I feel as if there is a bit of a characteristic with this car that, let’s just say, is a little bit strange. Generally you’ve got a window to work in and you can play inside that area and be fairly OK. And at the moment, this is just a very small window and therefore easy to make mistakes and do something the car doesn’t respond well to.
“I don’t want to keep talking about it because it’s getting old. It’s tricky I guess, it’s tricky.”
It might speak more to Norris’ comments earlier in the week when he said of Ricciardo: “as soon as there’s a couple of problems, just as most drivers do, he tends to lose that bit of confidence”.
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