MONACO, Monaco, May 27 – Red Bull team chief Christian Horner said Daniel Ricciardo won Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix despite having lost 25 per cent of the power of his car’s Renault engine.
Delighted to be able to celebrate a victory in the team’s 250th race, Horner said he was stunned by the Australian’s performance as he adapted his driving to preserve his advantage after leading the race from pole position.
“That was just unbelievable,” said Horner. “Daniel was not going to give this race up this weekend. We lost the MGUK. He just managed it like he was on a Sunday afternoon drive.
“They were telling me on the intercom we would have to retire in one or two laps, but we were leading at the Monaco Grand Prix, we were keeping going.
“Daniel is a big part of our team. He is the complete article now. You can hear his composure in the car, when something goes wrong there is no panic, no raising of his voice. He worked it out and I cannot praise him enough.
“He lost about 25 per cent of the power of the engine. That then means his rear brake temperatures are going through the roof, he is having to cool the brakes, cool the car, he has to lift off to do that — and he has (Sebastian) Vettel breathing down his neck.
“All those things he has to manage and he was the coolest guy out there today.”
Ricciardo’s win from pole was his second victory this year and lifted him to third in the drivers’ championship on 72 points behind defending champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes on 110 and Sebastian Vettel on 96.
Ricciardo said he felt pure redemption after missing out on victory due to a bungled pit stop two years ago.
“This was two years in the making,” he said. “I finally feel the redemption has arrived. We had problems, we had a lot to deal with during the race. Before halfway, I felt a loss of power and I thought the race was done.
“But I got home using just six gears, instead of eight, and thanks to the team we got it home.”
The team estimated that Ricciardo lost more than a second a lap due to his engine problems.
Horner began to heap praise on Ricciardo, who is in the final year of his contract with Red Bull, over team radio at the end of the race.
He said the victory was reminiscent of seven-time champion German Michael Schumacher’s second-place finish in Spain in 1994, achieved despite the German’s Benetton car being stuck in fifth gear.
“That is right up there with what Schumacher did,” said Horner. “This is payback for 2016.”
Spaniard Carlos Sainz meanwhile described his 10th place finish for Renault as a “disaster” and said he felt “very bitter.”
Sainz started from eighth on the grid but endured a disappointing race in which he struggled with his tyres and was instructed to allow Renault team-mate German Nico Hulkenberg to pass him.
He was especially disappointed with the team’s decision to switch him to ultra-soft tyres when he pitted.
“Scoring just one point feels very bad, very bitter,” he said. “I think this race was a disaster from the start.
“Even though I was saving the tyres, the fronts degraded a lot. We don’t know why…
“And the decision to switch to the ultra-softs on lap 15 was not the most appropriate….”