Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ricciardo: Alpine Monaco crash brought back memories of Baku

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The skirmish between Alpine team-mates Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly in Monaco reminded Daniel Ricciardo of his own crash with Max Verstappen. Image: Coates / XPB Images

and Ocon clashed on the opening lap of the Grand Prix, ending the latter’s race as his car was launched into the air, breaking the suspension and gearbox as it landed.

It sparked a furious response from team boss Bruno Famin to French television, while was similarly seething when he spoke about it post-race – having finished 10th.

The clash occurred at Portier, midway around the opening lap, with Ricciardo enjoying a front-row seat.

“It was close,” Ricciardo said to his proximity to the airborne Alpine.

“Lance [] was definitely closer, so I had a little bit more time to react.

“But man, they were… There was wheel touching I feel like three times before that happened.”

The Alpine pair had discussed strategy ahead of time, with Gasly claiming the plan was for Ocon to act as rear-gunner to defend any points that may be available.

As it stood, the pair occupied ninth and 10th as, at that stage, Carlos Sainz had stopped with a puncture at Casino Square and looked out of the race.

Contact between team-mates is a cardinal sin for drivers, with Ricciardo having felt the wrath of Christian Horner for a similar incident in Azerbaijan in 2018.

“Honestly, it reminded me of Baku 2018 where obviously Max and I, we touched I think twice or three times before the accident,” Ricciardo recounted.

“Obviously that one brewed in a lot shorter amount of time, but I could see it happening where I was like ‘Okay, I feel like tension is rising very quickly’.

“Sometimes with team-mates, it sparks even more,” he added.

“When I saw it happen, I wasn’t surprised because it felt like none of them wanted to give in and they were having a strongarm competition.

“I’m sure the team is not… I know how that one goes, so I’m sure they’re not happy.”

Ricciardo himself endured a frustrating race behind Fernando , after losing out to the Spaniard in the opening corner.

Boxed in on both starts, the driver was about to elbow his way through at Sainte Devote, as his team-mate had managed off the initial start.

“I wish I was staring at the back of Fernando last year, because that would have meant a podium,” Ricciardo joked.

“Most times actually you’re behind Fernando, it’s not a bad day, but unfortunately this one was.

“But look, I’m not surprised in terms of, obviously if you don’t qualify – I say at the front, but honest if you’re not on pole there’s a highly likely chance that your race is being dictated by someone else.

“On the starts, the first one actually was one of our best of the year,” he added.

“But it’s the shortest and probably the tightest run to Turn 1.

“I had a bit of a run on Gasly, but then the space tightened so much into [Turn] 1 I had to come out of it, and then that allowed to come through with a bit more momentum.

“So he go me there and then the second one, he covered the inside and that allowed Fernando room on the outside.”

From there, Ricciardo had just two laps of clear running, and while he put under sustained pressure, it came to naught.

“I tried to put pressure on him, also because it’s fun to try and force someone into a mistake,” he admitted.

“I knew he had medium [] so I was trying to make him use the tyre and just keep some pressure on him.

“I was enjoying a little bit of cat and mouse and there was a few little looks but, again, with his experience around this track, you need to make a pretty catastrophic error to leave the door open.”

Ricciardo ended the race 12th, the same place he started, while RB team-mate Yuki Tsunoda banked another four points for the team in eighth.

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