The smile’s back as Dan Ricciardo claims podium finish in Monaco

By , Paul Johnson is a Roar Guru

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    From not quite a scowl on Saturday to his trademark smile post-race on Sunday. It was a different Daniel Ricciardo.

    After gaining his second consecutive podium for the season the Australian was in a jovial mood post-race, even braving flicking water at a dejected Kimi Raikkonen in the press conference – all the while, grinning, always grinning.

    Ironically, a big part of the reason was his Red Bull team.

    Last year ‘nothing’ would have made up for the error that cost him a shot at Monaco Grand Prix glory, when his tyres weren’t ready at a pit stop.

    On Saturday a timing error cost him a better qualifying run.

    But on Sunday, in the race, his engineer, his team, got his strategy spot on.

    Ricciardo stayed on track for a long first stint and pushed his Red Bull, at times, to a pace comparative with race winner Sebastian Vettel and jumped two positions, into third, where he would remain, over teammate Max Verstappen and Mercedes star Valtteri Bottas.

    Ricciardo made sure to thank the team he lambasted on Saturday for what was a simple mistake.

    “I’m really pleased to be up here,” Ricciardo said at the post-race press conference.

    “You don’t often start fifth and get a podium here.

    “I was just frustrated yesterday because I knew I had so much more to offer.

    “(Today) I think we were doing 16 dead, 16 dead…. and I was able to do a good overcut.

    “It was a good combination of the lap times coming from me and the team leaving me out there and allowing me to run in clear air.

    “That was fun. That definitely made my race.”

    What nearly brought Ricciardo’s race undone was the safety car that came out on lap 61 when Jenson Button flipped Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber into the wall at Portier.

    On the restart the Aussie hit the wall at turn one and revealed he thought his Monaco GP might have been over.

    “I could see Kimi in front of me trying to warm the tyres,” Ricciardo told AAP.

    “I was trying to do the same thing, doing burnouts and trying to scrub the front tyres and get them going. They just turned to concrete blocks.

    “At one point you see it as an opportunity and I saw it as an opportunity to maybe jump Kimi but at the same time it’s… a potential risk.

    “Coming into turn one I didn’t feel like I came in hot at all but as soon as I turned I just kept going straight and the wall got closer until I hit it.

    “I think I hit it flush, which meant I avoided damage.”

    Also happy was team principal Christian Horner after Ricciardo’s good performance for the second race in succession.

    “A very strong drive by Daniel Ricciardo in the grand prix,” Horner said.

    “Even after surviving a brush with the wall at the re-start after the safety car, he achieved everything possible today.”

    © AAP 2017

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