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2018 MONACO GRAND PRIX & INDY 500

 

AUSTRALIA DAY

 

Oh Danny Boy - Ricciardo celebrates his Monaco winRicciardo nursed his wounded Red Bull to winPower sprays the milk - even on the Indy QueenPower Penske what else do you need?  An odd historical factoid was set on Sunday May 27 2018. Until this date no drivers from the same nation had won both the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 on the same day. Yes it has occurred on a few occasions that one nations drivers had won these races in the same year, Emerson Fittipaldi and Ayrton Senna in 1989 and 1993 for example, but never on the same day. Hill and Clark won them on the same weekend but again, different days – May 30 and 31 1965. Oh, and Scotland and England don’t count, Scotland never has been, and never will be, English. So there. Nyahhhh (and raspberry like noises)

  But first – an update. HAS MAX STACKED TODAY? …..YES….After nurfing Stroll’s Williams at the end of a safety car period in Spain Max Verstappen made it eleven incidents (spins. collisions and crashes) in six races so far this year when he comprehensively stuffed the Red Rag into the barriers exiting the swimming pool section during third practice. The resulting damage meant a new gearbox was required and that he would not take part in qualifying. Last on the grid. Zero hope of a good result at Monaco. When will he ever learn?

 

  In complete contrast, team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was in complete control for the entire weekend. It doesn’t much more dominant than this; Practice 1 – 1st, Practice 2 – 1st, Practice 3 – 1st, Qualifying 1 – 1st, Qualifying 2 – 1st, Qualifying 3 – 1st, Race – 1st, all 78 laps – 1st.  And the last 50 of those laps were with an MGU-K (motor generating unit – kinetic) that had gone on the fritz on lap 28. For those wot don’t know, a rooted MGU-K means you have no electrical power supplied to the battery from the turbo. That is knocking about 160 bhp off you maximum engine power at the end of the straights meaning his Red Bull had about as much grunt as the McLaren Honda of 3 years ago. It also means you have no electrical assistance to the rear brakes through the brake by wire system and the tiddley little discs overheat like all buggery and usually expire. A bit like Leclerc’s front ones did, much to Hartley’s chagrin. So, with sod all rear brakes, sod all engine power and using only six of the eight gears available, Danny boy, who by his own accounts had lost about two and a half seconds a lap in performance, held off the attentions of Vettel and Hamilton for 50 laps. OK this is Monaco and the other two had chewed their front tyres early in their second stints, but………BUT this was the sort of performance under extremis that should have just doubled his asking price for whatever contract he signs for 2019 and beyond.

 

  Max at least put his carambolage in the locker for the race and put in a fine drive through to ninth place, just 1.7 seconds behind Ocon in sixth. As just about everyone else finished where they started it was possibly Pierre Gasly in the Toro Rosso who put in the second best drive of the race. Even though the power deficit that the Honda engine still has doesn’t mean as much at Monaco as any other race it was still an outstanding effort to make the top 10 on the grid and then to drive through to seventh at the finish, less than a second behind Ocon while holding off Hulkenberg and Verstappen.

 

  As usual this was not the most exciting, in the way of wheel to wheel racing, Grand Prix of the year, but oh boy, was it tense over those last 50 laps, not knowing if the Red Rag would hang in there and if Ricciardo would get his just reward after the disappointment of 2016.

 

  For full results go to; http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php/the-database/formula-1-races/2010-2019/2018-formula-1

 

Meanwhile, over the pond, the other big race of the year was getting underway. For the first 50 odd laps, pole-sitter Ed Carpenter looked the man most likely, but as the race wore on some of the others got faster while Ed, well didn’t. It’s probably no surprise that those who got faster were from teams like Penske, Ganassi and Andretti Motorsport. At about the halfway point, after a series of caution periods caused by accidents to James Davison, Takuma Sato, Ed Jones and Danica Patrick, Will Power took a lead he would only relinquish during differing pit-stop strategies. Power had been running in the top six all race before claiming the lead when crowd favourite, Tony Kanaan, had to pit with a puncture. Power then held off challenges from Carpenter, Dixon and Rossi before another series of late accidents to Bourdais, Castroneves, Karam and Kanaan scrambled the top positions with 13 laps to go. Hoping their fuel would last, Oriol Servia led from Jack Harvey, Stefan Wilson with both Power and Carpenter fully fuelled when the green flag flew again just 8 laps from home. Servia blew the restart and Wilson then led from Harvey and Power. It would have been a lovely story if Wilson could have won just his 2nd Indy 500. Stefan is the younger brother of Justin Wilson who was killed in an accident at Pocono a few years ago and runs at the Indy 500 in a spare car supplied by Andretti Motorsport born out of respect for Justin. It was not to be however, and with just 4 laps to go both Wilson and Harvey had to pit for fuel handing the lead, and a deserved win, to Will Power.

 

  And so ended what is possibly Australia’s greatest day in motorsport. Two hugely popular winners of the two biggest open wheel races of the year. And although Adrian Newey didn’t look too keen on the “shuey”, and the Indy Queen looking a tad surprised after being accidently doused with milk, the partying began in earnest. Gotta stop the boys tearing up though, bit of a dent for our macho image. Although I will admit to a moist eye or two…..

 

Sam Snape

 

28/5/2018.