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Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo has claimed his second ever pole position in Formula One, setting a new lap record around the circuit where he incidentally also claimed his first.
Red Bull were always expected to fly around Monaco and it has certainly been an extremely impressive weekend so far for the team – and Ricciardo in particular – save for Max Verstappen’s crash in FP3. Ricciardo was fastest in every single practice session and every segment of qualifying, breaking the lap record numerous times before ultimately taking pole with a 1:10.810, in doing so becoming the only driver to break into the 1:10s.
The Australian’s nearest competitor was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. In the dying moments of the session Vettel managed to improve and close the gap to P1, but he was still over two tenths away from Ricciardo, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton another two tenths back in P3.
Kimi Raikkonen will perhaps have been hoping for more than P4; he starts ahead of fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas and best-of-the-rest Esteban Ocon, who put in a great performance in the Force India to go P6. McLaren will no doubt be glad to have gotten at least one car into the top ten – Fernando Alonso will start tomorrow’s race in P7 ahead of Sainz, Perez, Gasly and Hulkenberg – because it looked for a while in the early stages of the weekend as though they may be out-performed by Toro Rosso and their Honda engine. The other McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne, however, failed to make it through to Q3 and starts P12.
Sergey Sirotkin’s performance mustn’t be underplayed as well. He may be starting P13, but he qualified a huge eight tenths ahead of his team-mate Lance Stroll, who has been struggling all weekend and complained of a loose head-rest and a general lack of traction in Q1. He starts down in P18.
Home favourite Charles Leclerc qualified P14 ahead of an out-of-sorts Romain Grosjean, who qualified P15 but carries a three-place grid penalty because of the crash he caused in Spain.
Brendon Hartley was my surprise of qualifying, and unfortunately not in a good way. The Kiwi had initially shown very strong pace in free practice – he was P7 in FP3 – and seemed to be on par with team-mate Pierre Gasly, but for some reason he failed to convert that in qualifying and ultimately ended up P16 ahead of Marcus Ericsson.
Rounding out the grid are a frustrated Kevin Magnussen in P19 – another surprise given that he finished sixth last time out in Spain – and Max Verstappen, who didn’t even take part in qualifying because of his FP3 crash and will be receiving a somewhat redundant five-place grid penalty because of a change of gearbox.
It is hard to look past anyone but Daniel Ricciardo for the win tomorrow. It’s one of the great cliches of Formula One that it’s impossible to overtake around Monaco but, at the same time, I’m sure there will be some interesting battles further down the order that will be worth keeping an eye on.
Check out the latest video from Mobil 1 The Grid. The piece features Daniel Ricciardo and Christian Horner as they look back on the achievements of the team since the first race in 2005.
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In Mexico, Lewis Hamilton celebrated his fourth title in his Formula 1 career, a title which Lewis had to fight hard with the four time world champion, Sebastian Vettel, especially before the summer break. Hamilton showed a “winner” character and managed to overcome all his difficulties, both psychological and driving, but at the end Lewis became the first British driver who has ever won four world titles in Formula One.
Next stop, is Brazil, with only two races to go, until the season’s chequered flag, teams are travelling to Sao Paulo, for one of the best races in the Formula 1 calendar. Red Bull will try to win another race and be considering their current form, they have many chances to achieve that. The Bulls, are fast and compatible, both Verstappen and Ricciardo, will fight for a place on the podium and of course not in any place, but the highest one.
Ferrari is facing their own problems, Asia was a difficult chapter for the team, which cost them the chance to fight for the drivers’ and constructors’ championship, they didn’t have many chances for the second one, only if Raikkonen was able to move faster and improve his results.
In Brazil, the Scuderia has to fight for the best possible result, personally I don’t believe that Ferrari will win the race, Red Bull is faster and more reliable from the Scuderia Ferrari, at the moment, Verstappen is getting better and better, and I assume that he wants to close this season with two more victories.
AUTÓDROMO JOSÉ CARLOS PACE
Circuit Length: 4.309 km
Total Length: 305.909 km
Lap Record: 1:11.473 (Juan Pablo Montoya – 2004)
Supersoft, soft and medium tyres are available for the drivers in Brazil, a circuit which the brake demand is low there are fifteen corners, 44 gear changes per lap and the average lap speed which the drivers will reach is about 220 km/h.
Three current drivers on the gird have won the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen has won one time, whilst Sebastian Vettel has two victories in Interlagos. It is mentionable that only three drivers have exceeded the two victories in the Brazilian Grand Prix history. Alain Prost won six times, Michael Schumacher four times and Carlos Reutemann three.
“It’s very special for me and one of my favourite places and races on the calendar. Sao Paulo is a crazy city and there’s something I really like about it. The food, the people, it’s all really engaging and a highly unique experience.
Nico Hulkenberg – “The track itself has so much history especially when you cast your mind to all the stories and championships won there. You can feel the history and the emotions that belong to racing and I really like that. It’s a reason why I usually perform quite well there. The circuit is short and can be quite tricky to get right. It’s anti-clockwise, very bumpy and extremely tough on the neck! It’s all about confidence, especially the in-field middle sector.I have special memories around Interlagos! My only Formula 1 pole position to date came in my rookie season, which was awesome. I put a perfect lap together at the right time in changing conditions and poled it by over a second; that’s a real standout moment in my entire racing career. In 2012, I led for a large part of the race and was unlucky not to get a podium. I have a decent record there and I will be pushing to make sure I continue that.”
Toto Wolff admitted that Mercedes will test new parts for the 2018 season in the two remaining races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
“The final two Grands Prix thus present the first two test opportunities ahead of the new season, trialling new and interesting concepts that the competitive landscape on track simply didn’t allow for earlier in the year. [We] will be running a series of experiments over the final two Fridays – with the option for race day, too, if the team feels that the risk connected with any idea is manageable and there is valuable learning for 2018 and beyond.”
Felipe Massa announced that he will retire, for the second time in the last two years, after the end of the 2017 season and that will make the Brazilian Grand Prix a very emotional race, full of Brazilians who will be cheering for Felipe.
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