Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Monte-Carlo, 2016

Ricciardo grabs a strategic advantage but rain could take it away

2016 Monaco Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Not only was Daniel Ricciardo able to secure the critically important pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix, he bought himself a valuable strategic advantage as he did.

With an extra run in Q2 Ricciardo was able to beat the time he’d set using ultra-soft tyres on the harder super-soft tyres. This should put him at a strategic advantage for the race.

Red Bull mimicked the strategy Nico Rosberg used to rewarding effect in China. Although Rosberg lost the lead to Ricciardo at the start, he was at a tactical advantage and went on to win the race.

Ricciardo goes into tomorrow’s race knowing that when he makes what should be his only pit stop of the race he will switch to the ultra-soft compound. That will mean he stands to benefit much more from the ‘undercut’ – the lap time gain from moving onto a new set of tyres.

The potential disadvantage for Ricciardo is a reversal of the situation on lap one in China: he might be passed by Rosberg who will start alongside him on softer tyres. However the short, narrow run to turn one in Monaco means this is far from a certainty.

However one further factor may render this all moot: The weather. The forecast of wet conditions mentioned here on Wednesday remains strong for Sunday’s race. Persistent rain is expected from mid-morning to late afternoon and thunderstorms are possible in the hours before the race.

If the race begins in wet conditions drivers will obviously not start the race on slicks. However as Red Bull have dependably been among the quickest cars in the rain in recent years the prospect of a few drops of the wet stuff is unlikely to cause sleepless nights.

And it may provide a greater opportunity to Ricicardo’s team mate Max Verstappen to climb the order following his qualifying error.

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Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’14.9121’14.357 (-0.555)1’13.622 (-0.735)
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’14.8731’14.043 (-0.830)1’13.791 (-0.252)
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’14.8261’14.056 (-0.770)1’13.942 (-0.114)
4Sebastian VettelFerrari1’14.6101’14.318 (-0.292)1’14.552 (+0.234)
5Nico HulkenbergForce India1’15.3331’14.989 (-0.344)1’14.726 (-0.263)
6Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’15.4991’14.789 (-0.710)1’14.732 (-0.057)
7Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’15.4671’14.805 (-0.662)1’14.749 (-0.056)
8Sergio PerezForce India1’15.3281’14.937 (-0.391)1’14.902 (-0.035)
9Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’15.3841’14.794 (-0.590)1’15.273 (+0.479)
10Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’15.5041’15.107 (-0.397)1’15.363 (+0.256)
11Valtteri BottasWilliams1’15.5211’15.273 (-0.248)
12Esteban GutierrezHaas1’15.5921’15.293 (-0.299)
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’15.5541’15.352 (-0.202)
14Felipe MassaWilliams1’15.7101’15.385 (-0.325)
15Romain GrosjeanHaas1’15.4651’15.571 (+0.106)
16Kevin MagnussenRenault1’16.2531’16.058 (-0.195)
17Marcus EricssonSauber1’16.299
18Jolyon PalmerRenault1’16.586
19Rio HaryantoManor1’17.295
20Pascal WehrleinManor1’17.452
21Max VerstappenRed Bull1’22.467
22Felipe NasrSauber

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Daniel Ricciardo19.532 (3)34.693 (1)19.397 (1)
Nico Rosberg19.486 (2)34.699 (2)19.606 (2)
Lewis Hamilton19.349 (1)34.778 (3)19.653 (4)
Sebastian Vettel19.757 (7)34.888 (4)19.637 (3)
Nico Hulkenberg19.866 (10)35.066 (5)19.794 (9)
Kimi Raikkonen19.717 (6)35.143 (7)19.695 (6)
Carlos Sainz Jnr19.758 (8)35.208 (9)19.706 (7)
Sergio Perez19.689 (4)35.291 (12)19.853 (12)
Daniil Kvyat19.691 (5)35.203 (8)19.721 (8)
Fernando Alonso19.841 (9)35.288 (11)19.863 (13)
Valtteri Bottas20.002 (15)35.382 (14)19.688 (5)
Esteban Gutierrez20.026 (16)35.415 (15)19.852 (11)
Jenson Button19.968 (14)35.348 (13)19.960 (14)
Felipe Massa19.959 (13)35.125 (6)20.091 (16)
Romain Grosjean19.899 (12)35.517 (16)19.846 (10)
Kevin Magnussen20.295 (18)35.635 (17)20.073 (15)
Marcus Ericsson20.359 (19)35.795 (18)20.145 (17)
Jolyon Palmer20.247 (17)35.806 (19)20.501 (18)
Rio Haryanto20.425 (20)36.357 (21)20.513 (19)
Pascal Wehrlein20.492 (21)36.251 (20)20.527 (20)
Max Verstappen19.870 (11)35.237 (10)22.037 (21)
Felipe Nasr

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Pascal WehrleinManorMercedes297.9 (185.1)
2Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes296.7 (184.4)-1.2
3Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes295.8 (183.8)-2.1
4Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes295.7 (183.7)-2.2
5Rio HaryantoManorMercedes295.5 (183.6)-2.4
6Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes295.5 (183.6)-2.4
7Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes295.4 (183.6)-2.5
8Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes294.8 (183.2)-3.1
9Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer293.5 (182.4)-4.4
10Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari292.4 (181.7)-5.5
11Esteban GutierrezHaasFerrari291.4 (181.1)-6.5
12Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari291.4 (181.1)-6.5
13Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari290.9 (180.8)-7.0
14Jenson ButtonMcLarenHonda290.7 (180.6)-7.2
15Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda290.1 (180.3)-7.8
16Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari290.0 (180.2)-7.9
17Jolyon PalmerRenaultRenault289.8 (180.1)-8.1
18Kevin MagnussenRenaultRenault289.7 (180.0)-8.2
19Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer289.2 (179.7)-8.7
20Daniil KvyatToro RossoFerrari285.4 (177.3)-12.5
21Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoFerrari285.2 (177.2)-12.7
22Felipe NasrSauberFerrari214.7 (133.4)-83.2

Over to you

Are Red Bull about to keep Mercedes from winning for the second race in a row?

Share your views on the Monaco Grand Prix in the comments.

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    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    34 comments on “Ricciardo grabs a strategic advantage but rain could take it away”

    1. You should have seen the raindance I just did.

      1. The rain will stop around 14:15. Try harder.

    2. Hopefully it’s not so wet that they don’t start the race. After the tragic events of Suzuka 2014, and given the tight confines of this circuit, we might see a cautious approach from Whiting.

      1. Cranes work in a completely different way, so minimal chance of that.

        They were tragic… but unique, so fear not of that scenarion every time rain falls :)

      2. Rain makes things interesting when it falls mid-way through the race when people are forced to make quick decisions

    3. “Are Red Bull about to keep Mercedes from winning for the second race in a row?”
      No, this would be the first time. Mercedes kept Mercedes from winning in Spain.

      1. Looking good though.

    4. Keith, if we have a dry race, do you see anyone on a 2-stop?

    5. True that Verstappen showed skills in the wet (notably last year qualifying in Malaysia). But with three crashes already in two race weekends at Monaco it remains to be seen if he will be able to avoid another one while trying too hard.

      1. @spoutnik He’s probably referring to the fact that Max will start from the pitlane on a new chassis, so they can adjust the setup accordingly if it rains which might give him an advantage, rather than Max himself being extra good in the wet.

      2. I’ll be impressed if Max can finish a wet race in Monaco, with his level of ambition. I reckon a series of sensational passes, then a barrier. Not what I’m wishing on him at all, but he won’t settle for driving the race in a queue, one feels…

        All good, mind. Hope the cameras are on him.

    6. Ricciardo on the slower tyre but pumped full of confidence and looking to win his first race of the season, Nico alongside him on a faster tyre and looking to gain advantage going into the first corner at a circuit where leading from the first corner more or less guarantees victory…
      Ricciardo won’t yield, Nico won’t hold back.
      I foresee a coming together of Nico and Ricciardo at the first corner, with Hamilton going on to win the race.

      1. Think both Mercs will be ultra conservative! Most are in Monaco, except for mad Max! Dan will lead the first corner as a result.

    7. Can hardly wait.

      1. Yes can’t wait. The track action this year has been great, this weekend the practice sessions were great. Without knowing why F1 just keeps getting better.

    8. i hope red bull can beat the mercs tomorrow. in fact i hope any car can beat the mercs at any track

    9. “That will mean he stands to benefit much more from the ‘undercut’ – the lap time gain from moving onto a new set of tyres.”

      I thought that the undercut referred to stopping before your opponents – surely the advantage RIC has is that he can run longer:

      Scenario 1: Dry race. Everyone gets away in order

      RIC leads in clean air, possibly holding up those behind, who are wasting the fast tyre on a heavy car in dirty air. The followers pit for new tyres. RIC stays out until the second place car is getting close to the pit loss time, then pits for the fast tyre and scampers off into the distance in a lighter car in clean air – if he can make it to the end.

      Scenario 2: Partially wet race. Everyone gets away in order.

      If the rain starts (or there is a safety car) in the window between the followers pitting and RIC pitting, then he has the race in his pocket.

      1. Scenario 1 assumes the early pitters don’t get caught up in the traffic they rejoin in.

        1. Part of the implementation of scenario 1 is to arrange that they _will_ get caught in traffic if they try it

      2. Are they really going for ultra and supersofts in the race? Then I’d rather use the most vulnerable tire at the beginning of the race. Ricciardo will likely run a very controlled race. He will bunch up the field in the first laps and then he will try to pull away before the pitstops. Mercedes might try a very aggressive strategy with one car (pitting it early) and gamble that traffic is not too much of a problem in order to undercut Ricciardo. If Ricciardo has to cover the pitstops of the Mercedes drivers at around lap 15 or 20, I will be surprised if he uses the ultrasoft tires.
        Yes, I’m hoping for a dry race.

    10. Strategically I said the same but I think there’s a point which was left out, and that’s whether the rain happens to come some time into the race considering the importance of free air in Monaco and some cars maybe running harder tyres hoping to last enough for a safety car, we could see the front runners having to pit later than they would want to, so they can most definitely get free air to undercut.

    11. I have a feeling that a one stopper of US-SS is probably not possible. The US will last max 20 laps and SS probably 40. Well short of the total 78 required.
      Either drivers are planning a 2 stopper of US-SS-SS or a one stopper of US-S. So ricciardo may be planning either a SS-S or a SS-SS-US. As he starts on the supersofts, he can wait and see what his pursuers are doing. If they pit for SS, he can mimic their 2 stopper or if they go for softs, he can mimic their 1 stopper. Problem is Mercedes may split strategy for both of their drivers, which one would then Ricciardo follow?

      1. Uhmm Sumedh, the Q3 group (top ten) have to start on the tires that were on the car when they set their fastest lap in Q2; so Riciardo has to start on his SS tires and the rest on their US tires.

      2. It will always be a 1-stopper, because it’s so hard to overtake (see the 2011 race). Maybe with good tire management they can do a 1-stopper on ultrasofts and supersofts, but I find it hard to believe. Anyway, the only thing that matters is if you’re still leading the race after the pitstops, not so much what tire you’re using.

    12. Merc are sandbagging again at the orders of Bernie and Helmut Marko.

    13. The article states that Ricciardo would enjoy the benefit of the undercut (which from my understanding is when you pit before the others to enjoy fresh tyres before them, helping you jump them when they pit themselves), but logic (as explained below) tells me the exact opposite. Can anyone explain this to me?

      I really want to see Ricciardo to win this one, but for how I see it, in a dry race and assuming he is leading the pack after the first lap, this would happen. After 20-odd laps his opponents (most notably Rosberg or Hamilton) will have their pitstop, putting SS. From lap 20 to 40 (or 50) they would enjoy a much fresher tyre (same compound) as Ricciardo, quickly eroding Ricciardo’s advantage (undercut). Even if they come back on track to find traffic, everyone is on US anyway, so the traffic will last only few laps. By the time Ricciardo pits, his advantage will not be enough to stay in front. He will have US but they will not be fast enough to allow him to overtake a Mercedes, handing victory to Rosberg (or Hamilton).

      There are a couple of things that can change this (apart from rain and safety cars)

      If, as pointed out by someone else in the comments, the common strategy will be 2 stops (which I find unlikely), Ricciardo can do SS-US-US, anticipating the pit to about the same lap of the Mercs, avoiding undercuts

      In alternative, he can be the only one to switch to a 2-stop strategy, allowing him to lap much quicker after the first stop and hopefully giving him so much advantage to be able to stop again and stay in front (unlikely). Or maybe he will manage to use the US for most of the race without being overtakes (unlikely too, I don’t see the US to last that much)

      The only real advantage I see in Ricciardo strategy is, if he stays out while the others pit and it starts raining, everyone will pit again and everyone will be on the same strategy again, with him being in front.

      1. Only though this isnt true.

        Pretty much everyone agrees 1 stop is the norm. Degradation is super low.

        His advantage is, once he has to pit lap 25-35, he can pash harder than opposition on inlap. Once out of pits he is on slightly faster tire for his outlap. So he has about 1s extra pace. All he has to do is pit first at moment of his choice, and pit crew to do sub 3s pit stop.

        Then he can simply take it easy on US tires till the end.

        If there is rain, no problem, he has same chances as everyone else.

        1. @jureo pitting on 30 lap old tires will not give him much advantage with in-lap and out-lap doesn’t count because he pits after US runners.

        2. @jureo so you think (as I also mentioned in my comment as a possibility, although unlikely) that he will simply use the SS for 20 laps or so (as the others with US), then put US and use them for 50+ laps? Are you sure US can last that long? I think it’s really really risky.

      2. “benefit of the undercut (which from my understanding is when you pit before the others to enjoy fresh tyres before them, helping you jump them when they pit themselves)”
        I think so too.

    14. So, I pose this question to you all.
      Ricciardo vs The Field
      Who wins?

    15. Lee Porcelli
      29th May 2016, 7:33

      Being aussie looking forward to a big night. Go Daniel and Will Power. Wishing a safe Indy for all competitors.plus competitive run for Matt Brabham. 👍.

    16. The SS play is so Red Bull. Ambitious, confident and clever. I wish I liked them better, but perhaps with Ricci and if they carry on being nice about Renault that will come.

      So if it stays dry he can control the pace to stop any 19-s pitstop gaps opening in front of the SS-shod Q2 midfield. The US runners have to stop around Lap 20 or so and they come back out behind some SS runners, that they can’t pass. Danny then opens it up and has say 25 laps to build a big fat lead. Job done.

      Or if there’s a shower during the race Ricci has that much more chance of hitting it before he makes a stop, which would save him a stop. Nice.

    17. Rain is what Red Bull made to sign Verstappen in 2014.

      Probably the best what can happen to the fans, rain and Verstappen starting from the pitlane at Monaco will be as exciting as it gets.

      In the front Ricciardo might be able to keep first position, the RBR is very good in wet conditions, however Mercedes and especially Hamilton might want to win a Monaco GP after all these years of bad luck.

    Comments are closed.