Red Bull blunder ends Hamilton’s wait for win

2016 Monaco Grand Prix review

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At just over three kilometres, the Monte Carlo street circuit is only slightly longer than the span of Daniel Ricciardo’s trademark grin.

And after the Red Bull driver secured the most important pole of the season ahead of the two Mercedes powerhouses and with a potential tyre advantage over the top ten, who could blame Ricciardo for his cheerful demeanour on Saturday evening?

After all, this was an irresistible opportunity for the Australian to emulate his fellow countrymen Jack Brabham and Mark Webber and win the Monaco Grand Prix.

But come Sunday evening, the trophy in Ricciardo’s hands was not the one he had dreamt of holding that previous night and the winning smile that has won him so many fans was nowhere to be seen.

Lewis Hamilton drove superbly to take an overdue first victory of his 2016 campaign. But the biggest story of the Monaco Grand Prix was how Red Bull had inadvertently sabotaged their most popular driver’s chances of victory for the second successive race.

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Much pre-race chatter surrounded the possibility of rain on Sunday. And, for once, it wasn’t wrong: The heavens opened in the early hours of Sunday morning.

With heavy downpours soaking the track, it came as little surprise when the FIA announced that the Monaco Grand Prix would begin under Safety Car conditions.

Almost as soon as the race officially began at two o’clock, there was trouble. Daniil Kvyat radioed to his team that his car was stuck in a constant speed mode. It took two trips through the pits and the loss of a lap for the Toro Rosso to right itself.

After five laps behind the Safety Car, fans and drivers alike began to get restless, with Hamilton ad Kevin Magnussen urging race director Charlie Whiting over radio to start the race.

Finally, the grand prix started in earnest at the start of lap eight. Ricciardo made a strong getaway, pulling out a second over Nico Rosberg, who was pursued closely by Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari behind.

But there was instant trouble as Jolyon Palmer lost control of his Renault on the pit straight, slamming into the outside barriers and spearing into the wall at Sainte Devote. The Virtual Safety Car was called, as the Monaco marshals cleared the track of debris from the single car accident.

When the race resumed, Ricciardo wasted no time in pulling a significant gap to the Mercedes behind as Magnussen was the first to gamble on a switch to intermediate tyres.

Kimi Raikkonen’s race ended sooner afterwards. The Ferrari driver struck the barriers at the hairpin and almost collected Romain Grosjean’s Haas into Portier while dragging his front wing under his Ferrari. Raikkonen finally decided to park his stricken car by the chicane, not far from where he boat was moored.

By now, Rosberg was visibly struggling for grip in the treacherous conditions, with Hamilton increasingly agitated behind his team mate.

Mercedes knew that with every lap Hamilton was stuck behind his team mate, their chances of challenging Ricciardo for victory were decreasing. The team told their championship leader to yield for his main rival and, to his credit, Rosberg duly obeyed – no protests, no fuss.

Rosberg admitted that surrendering the place had been ‘painful’, but showed the presence of mind to realise that to win a season-long war against a driver the calibre of Lewis Hamilton, you have to expect to lose some battles along the way.

Pit blunder costs Ricciardo victory

By this stage several drivers had switched onto the intermediate tyres and the shallow-grooved rubber was starting to pay benefits. With Max Verstappen going fastest on them, Red Bull called their race leader in to switch onto the tyres himself, mirroring what Rosberg had done a few laps prior.

Curiously, Hamilton opted to stay out, inheriting the lead. Ricciardo took just four laps to make up the deficit to the Mercedes, but despite a significant advantage Ricciardo chose not to try and force his way past and instead wait for his opportunity.

Marcus Ericsson was the first to roll the dice on full dry tyres on lap 31 – which quickly proved to be the right move to make.

In came the entire field, with Hamilton finally discarding his full wet tyres for a switch to ultra-soft slicks. The unleashed Ricciardo produced a middle sector time which was over two seconds faster than Hamilton managed moments later, and as the Red Bull driver headed for the pits only a disastrous stop for him would hand the lead back to the Mercedes.

But that was exactly what Ricciardo got. As the RB12 coasted into to Red Bull pit box there were no tyres – wet or dry – to greet him. Thirteen agonising seconds passed before the team had scrambled to put a full set of super softs onto the RB12.

Ricciardo bolted for the pit exit, but the damage had been done. The lead was lost. Track position had been lost. And Ricciardo now had the almost impossible task of passing Hamilton on-track to claim back victory.

And things were about to get worse for Red Bull.

Having started from the back, Verstappen was making great progress through the field. Some skilful passes on Magnussen and Jenson Button had given him a shot at a decent points finish.

But after recovering to tenth, Verstappen compounded a weekend to forget by throwing it all away at Massenet, understeering into the outside barriers and wrecking his Red Bull for the second successive day. As with qualifying, the 18-year-old accepted full responsibility for his error.

As the race resumed following another Virtual Safety Car, Ricciardo was now all over Hamilton, almost running into the rear of the Mercedes in the tunnel.

Hamilton had all four wheels on the inside of the kerb at the chicane and Ricciardo tried to pounce, but the Mercedes driver shut the door on exit. Ricciardo was angry. The stewards investigated, but no further action was taken.

Friendly fire

All this was had allowed third-placed Sergio Perez, on soft tyres, to catch up to the two leaders. The Force India driver had made a late switch to intermediates but timed a move to dry tyres perfectly, allowing him to jump ahead of Rosberg and Vettel.

Further down the field the Saubers of Felipe Nasr and Ericsson were stuck behind Romain Grosjean. The team instructed Nasr to let his team mate by to attack the Haas, but despite a direct order from the senior management, the Brazilian refused to yield.

A bemused Ericsson then decided to take matters into his own hands – with disastrous results. A late lunge into Rascasse saw the two Saubers collide with damage taking both cars out of the race.

The ridiculous action saw Ericsson earn a three-place grid penalty for Canada, while team principal Monisha Kaltenborn later described the behaviour of both drivers as ‘unacceptable’.

Hamilton takes control

What had began as an unpredictable wet-dry race was by now displaying the usual hallmarks of a traditional parade around the streets of Monaco. Track position in the drier conditions was key, which played directly into the hands of Hamilton and fifth-placed Alonso, who were both under pressure from behind.

Ricciardo backed off for a handful of laps to try and save his tyres before mounting a renewed challenge for the lead, but with Hamilton now in a rhythm, the Red Bull never found the opportunity to take the fight to the Mercedes.

Vettel too was eating into the gap to Perez ahead, but a couple of small errors under braking put paid to any chances Ferrari had to snatch the final step on the podium.

Hamilton kept his focus and ticked off the laps to cross the line just before the two hour time limit expired and secure his first win of the season. Ricciardo finished seven seconds adrift and did not attempt to mask his frustration at having had his chances for victory scuppered through no fault of his own.

There was late drama, however, as the rains returned for a last lap cameo which saw some drivers forced to tip-toe around the final three kilometres to safely reach the chequered flag.

Rosberg exited Antony Noghes for the last time to find all traction had abandoned him on the greasy surface, with Nico Hulkenberg brilliantly taking advantage to jump the Mercedes at the line and snatch sixth place.

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“Two weekends in a row I’ve been screwed”

Just as last year, the podium celebrations in the royal box had the distinct air of frustration and injustice for one of the three attendees. Ricciardo did not mince words.

“Two weekends in a row now, I’ve been screwed,” declared the second place man. “It sucks.”

Hamilton’s reaction to his 44th career win was more of satisfaction than elation, having come through a tumultuous start to the season to finally record his first win of 2016 in round six.

“Truly one of the hardest races I can ever remember having,” Hamilton said. “To stay in the zone, not make any mistakes and come out on top is just unbelievable.”

After Force India had targeted a strong result here, Perez was delighted to have produced another surprise podium appearance for the team at such a prestigious venue.

“I’m extremely happy, because my team has done a tremendous job with the strategy, with the calls and the pit stops,” Perez said. “It’s been an amazing day for us.”

But while Hamilton’s victory had helped him make a significant dent into Rosberg’s sizeable championship lead, there was a sense that Red Bull had lost this race perhaps as much as Mercedes had won it.

Even Helmut Marko admitted that the team had effectively gifted the race to their rivals, describing the error as a ‘human mistake’.

Mercedes had looked beatable in a straight fight for the first time since Singapore last year. When the Silver Arrows are vulnerable, their rivals know too well that they must make the most of the opportunity.

Daniel Ricciardo must now hope this does not prove to be his last such opportunity for 2016.

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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96 comments on “Red Bull blunder ends Hamilton’s wait for win”

  1. Nice article Will, made me feel the pain all over again, 1 comment, DanR finished 7 seconds behind only because it started to rain again, and with only 2 laps to go, discretion got the better of valor, without the combination of a wet track and traffic threatening a certain 2nd I’m sure Dan would have been right up Lewis’ exhaust pipe at the finish

    1. The Skeptic
      30th May 2016, 10:29

      I think that Dan fell behind also because Lewis reeled off a couple of fast laps (fastest on lap 71), and made the most of the traffic.

  2. It is incredibly hard to understand how the tyre mix up happened, when they drill this procedure constantly…the inteam comm’s should be bullet proof..tight pit space or not!!!…did not happen to any other team working up and down pit lane that were working under the same conditions.

    1. @nosehair It appears part of the problem was caused by Red Bull changing their strategy from using the Ultra soft tyre to the Super soft tyre at a very late stage. The Super soft tyres were at the back of the garage with the tyre warmers on them, hence they weren’t on hand when Ricciardo rolled in and stopped. If Red Bull had run with the same tyre as Hamilton had, then they would have come out in front of him. Assuming their tyre wear is about the same or better than the Mercedes car has, then they would probably have won the race. If, on the other hand, the tyre wear was worse, then Mercedes would have won.
      As a thought, it does seem odd that no one seemed to notice there were the wrong number of people waiting to attend to the car. This isn’t a case where it was one person missing, but 4 of them, and the 4 missing are each supposed to be holding a wheel, so the absence should have been conspicuous.

      1. Stephen l have read horner’s explaination of what happen and l don’t disbelieve him…it is bizarre that the team go through every possible scenario in changing compound, pit calls/late pit calls/ drivers input ect ect and that …. if it was the teams first year at Monaco and working under pressure in the tight pit surroundings..we could say l yeah that explains it.

    2. it might have had something to do with Max pitting the lap before + the change in tire strategy. Maybe the word dropped too soon before Max pitted and the crew didn’t work well enough to get RIC’s tires ready for his pit not long after.

  3. Can anyone explain why the Red Bull was so quick here? Is it because the engine speed wasn’t such a factor? In which case, do Red Bull have a better car for mechanical grip?

    1. The RB12 has supreme mechanical grip and traction. The Red Bull chassis in general has been either the outright best or equal best every season since 2009. They are consistently able to produce such a car even across different regulations.

      One can say that it’s all Newey, but many of his McLaren cars in the 2000’s didn’t exactly set the world alight (2002-04, 2006).

    2. It’s mostly chassis. Maybe better energy harvesting and deployment but the test for the new PU is Canada.

    3. from Autosport “Renault has only used three development tokens for its Formula 1 engine upgrade at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

      The French manufacturer ran the new unit for the first time in last week’s test at Barcelona, with the drivers giving good feedback about power and driveability.

      Renault engine technical director Remi Taffin suggested the upgrade could be worth as much as 0.5 seconds in laptime.

      Following the successful test, Renault chose to bring forward the new spec’s introduction by a race to Monaco, though it only had two units available.

    4. petebaldwin (@)
      31st May 2016, 10:29

      Because Red Bull have designed the best car. They don’t have the best suppliers however and that’s what matters in F1 so on most tracks, they will struggle.

  4. Chassis,drive off the corners, not sure how much difference the PU upgrade made in the 2 RBs, because VES kept crashing his car.

    1. l meant to say in Rics car

  5. Could only watch and think wow, how Red Bull had done such a thing. Such a huge shame for Riccardo. These opportunities don’t come around too often so you have to feel for the bloke. Great race from Lewis as well to be on such an aggressive strategy, he was the only guy that was going to get close to Ricciardo and fortunately a little luck went his way. Perez, fantastic to keep a Ferrari off the podium

    1. +1

  6. I wonder how significant it was that Hamilton didn’t lap Hulkenberg, if he did then Hulkenberg’s pass on Rosberg at the end of the race would likely not have happened. It will be interesting to see if it makes a difference in the championship. Those 2 points could be valuable.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      30th May 2016, 15:57

      @3dom yeah never thought of that – good point!

  7. Hamilton was the only who had balls to look for the win, appart from Ricciardo, Rosberg was like a turtle trying to block and mantain his position the 72 laps like he done 1 year he won, what a shame of driver.
    Verstappen he is half crazy, capable of great performances and the worst mistakes, we will see if his lucky win gets to his head and becomes Joss Verstappen part 2.

    1. Really…..the guy is 18, give him a chance. I don’t think luck came into his win, sure some others made some mistakes but you have to be close to capitalise on a mistake. This guy is going to get many more race wins under his belt. That much I know.

    2. i agree that Max had a rough weekend, but Monaco is a track where patience, a cool head and experience is more important than raw speed. And those 3 qualities i mentioned above do not come at 18.

      He was fast and made up some ground to 9th, coming from the back of the pack, but he was pushing too hard and taking too many risks when the track was still wet. To his credit, almost all the successful overtakes done in the race were his. I was somewhat disappointed after he crashed, as he was the only one who actually did something interesting in the middle part of the race.

      1. He should not be in a A team if he is not capable of driving with the big boys at Monaco…his talent and ability did not match his ambition .Not once but twice!!! pure and simple!!..RB management and mentoring is a lot to blame for his Monaco disaster..he is still a kid l don’t dislike him.

        1. Both Kvyat and Verstappen clearly overdrive themselves this weekend.
          Much can be blamed on the Red Bull management of these two driver talents.

        2. Did he not proof in Spain that he CAN drive with the big boys?
          Yes he had a bad weekend in Monaco and showed signs that he still has to learn how to be patience and more controlled. However this is also 1 of the reasons why everybody loves Verstappen so much. He is 1 of the only drivers left in the paddock that really goes for it and takes risks.
          Verstappen needs to learn when he can take those risks and when he has to be patience and if he improves in that area he will become one of the greats in F1. I see allot of similarities between Verstappen and Hamilton in his first few years.

          1. Maldonado won in Spain in 2012.

          2. Monaco in the rain exposes the real talent from the donkeys..Ves was exposed as why he needed another year or 2 in the junior team and was out of his league in monaco and is (fast heading towards the next driver to be seriously injured in F1) ..NR was exposed that he couldn’t cope with the pace of DR and LH in the rain, and l don’t believe he had any more issues with his car than LH…KR was exposed as a true number 2 driver….LH and DR showed why they are the bench mark drivers in F1 even rate em above Seb..DR has been amazing this year..all just my opinion.

        3. Well world champion Kimi Raikkonen binned it for Ferrari around Monaco too on Sunday. ‘Disaster’ is a bit melodramatic. Verstappen just hasn’t learnt yet that Monaco isn’t actually a racing circuit. You can hardly blame him for the mistake given FIA puts it on the F1 racing calendar.

          1. Button and kimi more so, should call it a day.

      2. Last year Max took out Romain Grosjean at Monaco…this year at Monaco he took himself out. I think RBR may have to pay for this decision as these crashes will cost them Engines and Transmissions. If Max crashes in Montreal it could end RBR’s challenge to Ferrari.

      3. Max is young and reckless, but so were a lot of great drivers. With experience and he will only get better. Remember Grosjean was once the same way.

        1. Senna in the toleman in the rain @monaco was one of the great f1 drives, was robbed of the win by the French..Ves is not even close to Senna at this stage.

  8. Tommy Scragend
    30th May 2016, 9:14

    I thought race control handled it well with the Virtual Safety Cars – it showed how useful the VSC is when used correctly. Slowing the cars down to give the marshals chance to nip onto the track and sweep up was the right thing to do and didn’t change the outcome the race as much as it might have done had there been a number of full safety cars.

    1. Tommy Scragend
      30th May 2016, 9:15

      the outcome *of* the race

    2. Yeah l agree Tommy first time l saw it work well.

    3. lockup (@)
      30th May 2016, 9:39

      Agreed I thought the VSC really proved out this weekend.

    4. Agree’d, VSC really helped the flow of the race instead of spending 40 combined laps behind the SC

  9. The team order to Nico to pull over for his team mate says to me that he is number 2. Lewis was asked to do the same last year and he refused. Lewis was negotiating his contract at that time also, just like Nico.

    1. Different circumstances entirely. And there is no number 2. If there was it would be LH because he is behind NR in the WDC. But thankfully these drivers are treated equally.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      30th May 2016, 16:04

      @dex did you want Ricciardo to lap both Mercedes’ at Monaco with Dieter watching for a second time? As Mercedes and Nico said, they waited too long to tell him to give up the position. Toto made the right call in the end and Nico made the right call to give up the position. They would never have forgiven him if Red Bull had won and the 2 Mercedes cars had been lapped.

  10. I don’t recall any team orders at all in 2015, although Lewis was pretty childish in his attempts to defend from Nico at Australia earlier this year when his tyres were completely shot and Nico was in a direct race with Vettel.

    1. Hamilton wasn’t in contract talks to save his seat in the best team. Rosberg moved over because it helps him in other ways.

      1. He didn’t need that to help him be retained at Merc. They are already poised to re-sign him, and had already said that that process will begin soon.

        1. You don’t think Rosberg’s decision to move over was made easier by having the CEO of Daimler in your garage? 2 weeks after both cars crashed into each other? All the while having contract negotiations on going? Ok, then.

  11. Mercedes handed RedBull the win in Spain, RedBull handed Mercedes the win in Monaco so its 1-1 end of the matter IMO.

    1. Not quite.
      Lewis’ inspired drive had a lot do with victory.

  12. I wonder why Nico didn’t do the usual driver action of moving over to the side when the hulk was about to over take?
    Those 2 points could prove to be a decider.

    1. Did you not hear him say he had zero tire left and then it rained and so he was nowhere with grip?

      1. Meanwhile his teammate was the fastest man on track on the same tires.

        1. HAM in clear air, ROS stuck behind another car.

  13. I see people thinking Mercedes telling Nico to move over so Lewis could catch Ric was a sign of Nico is No2, WRONG.
    Nico was a bloody turtle, it was painful to watch, Ric pulling out a 13.500s lead while the other drivers that were clearly faster in the wet were jumping on Nico’s choo choo train. Perfectly acceptable team order. And Hamilton didn’t block Ric, he didn’t cut the corner intentionally either, he was turning in hit a mini puddle and cut the corner(as he said in his pre race interview and it shows on the replays). He was then still on the racing line and left a cars length. I see some people on here can’t even be impartial only biased. SMH

    1. I disagree about Hamilton block on the chicane, he cut the corner and block rick on his slow exit. Shameful move that weirdly was not even investigated by the marshall…

      1. Yep if a driver brakes too deep into a corner being defensive and retards the following car on the exit should be a penalty whether they are leading or not…no brainer!!! Hammie was lucky.

        1. Both wrong. The reason there was no further action is because Hamilton lost speed through the chicane and he left a cars width for Ricciardo essentially sold Ricciardo a dummy and he bought it. A top class piece of defensive driving.

          Look at the images and footage you can see there was clearly a cars width.

          1. Yep @ju88sy it was a feint, perfectly judged.

          2. Lol you saying he planned to cut the chicane? I call that a driver who overcooked it and wasn’t in control.

          3. No he didn’t plan to cut the chicane @robbie he planned to keep Ricci behind him on entry, even though his tyres were still cool after the VSC while Danny’s were working. We can suppose he knew he could get away with running a bit deep and missing the first apex. Then on exit he planned to scare Danny into lifting while not actually putting him in the barrier or breaking the rule.

            This is the racecraft they pay him all that money for.

          4. Lol oh you know that his plan was to ‘scare’ DR do you? No matter how you want to spin it, if LH was in control ie. had racecraft at that moment, he wouldn’t have lost control and had to cut the chicane. When you are in control you negotiate the corner on the track, not off it, and he was lucky he didn’t cost himself the win by not accounting for his cold tires.

          5. If Lewis had braked early enough to go neatly round the first apex @robbie he might have found Danny getting there first. And yes we do know he planned to scare Danny because as we see in the head-on shot there was always in fact a car’s width there, until after Ricci had backed out of it.

            It was reminiscent of Bahrain 2014, and that beastly little dink coming out of T1 that made Rosberg lift and get cross, without contact :)

          6. Ah @lockup I see. So when in doubt the best defence is to overcook it and cut a chicane rather than fairly try to keep a lead while actually on the track. Got it.

          7. I don’t think you do see really @robbie. The route Lewis took was slower and gave Danny a faster exit. But then he feinted closing off the space to induce Danny to lift. By this means he stayed ahead of the faster car, while not having any contact or incurring a penalty.

            They never get a penalty for slight cutting like that while defending, as you know and he knew. Of course you can make believe the rules are different, or should have been different, or apply some private code of ethics of your own. But he drove to the rules as they are currently interpreted, in real life.

          8. I really don’t understand why Lewis wasn’t penalised. He had four wheels off the track and gained an advantage. People complain when there’s no on track passing but if the lead driver can cut a chicane without penalty then it’s effectively impossible to pass at Monaco. Maybe a good penalty would be to allow Ricciardo to cut the chicane on the next lap.

          9. @lockup Not buying your justification for LH’s error. I think you are coming to your own unique interpretation that LH’s route was slower. He started to go left but rather than lock up or even try to stay on the track he just goes straight through. You seem to think everything is fine because of the way he defended himself after the fact. For me it is about the fact that he overcooked it to begin with. Just saying, he was lucky not to have lost control of his car, lucky to retain the lead, after failing to negotiate the chicane on the track. I have no problem with how he defended after the fact, just that he should thank his lucky stars he didn’t pay more severely for his mistake, and that in terms of a dotw poll he didn’t have a faultless day. He nearly blew it.

            You said earlier that he needed to do this rather than negotiate the chicane neatly or he might have found DR ahead of him, but now you are saying he actually took the slow way, so I think you are contradicting yourself to defend LH.

            Bottom line is he needed to overcook it and cut the chicane to stay ahead, so, not entirely clean play. Try selling your opinion to DR and see how far you get. Since you’ve decided for yourself that LH was trying to ‘scare’ DR I guess it’s fair game to assume LH was ‘scared’ to approach that chicane under control and needed to cheat it.

          10. Okay I watched it again @robbie. I guess Lewis could have braked a bit earlier without losing the position on the way in, so I’ll concede that was an error, albeit on the safe side. It was quite routine though really, cars often cut across that corner defending.

            Then he did leave space on the exit, but feinted that he wasn’t going to, which was racecraft and skill.

            As to lucky, well he kept the car straight, didn’t lock up, kept the place and didn’t get a penalty, so he could’ve been a lot less ‘lucky’ :)

      2. I also find Hamiltons move at the chicane to agressive mainly because he cut the corner on the entry. For me it was a driver off the track, off the racing line trying to weave his way just to block the