DANIEL Ricciardo has been robbed of another certain victory – by his own pit crew.
Red Bull Renault’s popular Duncraig driver scored his maiden pole position at Monaco, dominated the rain-sodden race from the start and was well ahead of Lewis Hamilton when he was ordered into the pits for fresh tyres.
But the stop, which would normally take about five seconds, ran to more than 20 seconds because someone forgot to tell the crew to get the new tyres ready.
After a frantic scramble to find and fit the intermediate tyres on the drying track, a fuming Ricciardo rejoined the race behind Hamilton and was unable to make up the deficit, finishing second.
A fortnight earlier, in Spain, another tyre bungle by the pit crew relegated Ricciardo to fourth place after he had built a commanding lead.
After Ricciardo crossed the finish line at Monaco, team principal Christian Horner radioed to offer an apology, but was cut short.
“There’s nothing you can say that can make that any better. Just save it,” Ricciardo barked.
Interviewed on the podium, he added, “Two weeks in a row now I have been screwed. It sucks. I didn’t make the call. I got called, so they should have been ready. It hurts.”
Later he said he hated being miserable.
“I got a podium in Monaco so I should be extremely happy, grateful and thankful.
“I don’t like being the sad story. To end on a positive note, we were fast in all conditions, which is good.”
In a post-race statement Christian Horner said, “A very disappointing day. We as a team owe Daniel a huge apology. We will review and re-group and aim to continue our strong form in Canada.”
Ricciardo’s new teammate Max Verstappen had even worse fortune. He crashed in the qualifying period and had to start last, then crashed again during the race, at the same corner.
The Red Bull drama took the shine off a scintillating drive by Mexico’s Sergio Perez who powered his Force India past several rivals, among them former world champions Sebastien Vettel in a Ferrari and the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.
Winner Lewis Hamilton acknowledged Ricciardo’s brilliant drive, saying he had put in a “phenomenal” drive.
“He’s one of the best I’ve raced against. He should be proud,” the defending world champion said.
The race, which started behind a safety car in the rainy conditions, claimed a slew of victims on the tight, twisty street circuit.
Jolyon Palmer cashed his Renault within seconds of the start, then Kimi Raikkonen ran his Ferrari into the barriers, Daniil Kvyat, drove into the back of Kevin Magnussen and Sauber teammates Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson crashed into each other.
Behind the leaders, Vettel ran fourth in the Ferrari, Fernando Alonso came home an impressive fifth in his McLaren Honda, Nico Hulkenberg snatched sixth place from Nico Rosberg on the line and Carlos Sainz, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa rounded out the top 10.
The next race is the Canadian Grand Prix on June 12.