Smile For Ricciardo, Tears For Hamilton at Monaco GP
Hamilton has been beset by engine problems this season and his Mercedes stalled in the pit lane exit in the final part of Saturday's qualifying. By the time he got back on track, he had little time to better Ricciardo's leading lap of 1 minute, 13.622 seconds. (Getty Images)
Monaco: While Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo let out a screech of joy after securing the first pole position of his career at the Monaco Grand Prix, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton struggled to mask his latest disappointment.
Hamilton has been beset by engine problems this season and his Mercedes stalled in the pit lane exit in the final part of Saturday's qualifying. By the time he got back on track, he had little time to better Ricciardo's leading lap of 1 minute, 13.622 seconds and finished third behind Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
While Ricciardo is not yet shaping up as a threat for the title, championship leader Rosberg is 43 points clear of Hamilton and could be even further ahead by Sunday afternoon.
"Lewis wears his heart on his sleeve and when he's had a bad day you can see it," Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said. "We are all sad about the situation, that we have these gremlins that affect our performance."
As well as Hamilton's latest problem, both Mercedes cars had fuel pressure issues early in qualifying.
"It made the situation more demanding and stressful," Rosberg said.
There was no such stress for Ricciardo, whose beaming smile contrasted with Hamilton's despondent mood in the post-race news conference and the Australian driver will be confident of his fourth career win — having won three races in his debut season for Red Bull in 2014.
"I will sleep easier tonight knowing I set out what I tried to do, getting my first pole," Ricciardo said. "Monaco is a driver's circuit. That extra bit of confidence and commitment goes a long a way."
Hamilton's miserable season is in stark contrast to last year, when he largely cruised to a second straight title and third overall, wrapping it up with three races to spare.
With Monaco being arguably the hardest track in F1 to overtake on, the British driver is all but resigned to a ninth race without victory — unless there is a drastic change in weather.
"I don't really expect much from tomorrow," said Hamilton, whose only win in Monaco was in 2008 with McLaren. "If the car keeps going, I'll be fighting as hard as I can with these guys. ... Hopefully it rains, that would be pretty amazing."