Monaco a favourite for Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

This weekend’s Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix is Daniel Ricciardo’s favourite of the year.

The Australian famously won there in 2018, having been cruelly denied two years prior.

Monaco was absent from last year’s calendar for the first time since the 1950s but returns this weekend for the fifth round of the 2021 championship.

“Monaco is my favourite circuit on the calendar, and I really missed driving there last year,” Ricciardo said.

“It’s such a unique place to drive and as F1 drivers we’re incredibly lucky to get the opportunity to race there.

“It’s not like any other circuit in the world where you can turn up for a track day and drive, you have the Monaco Grand Prix and support events and that’s it.

“So, I’m incredibly excited to be going back, we’ve been deprived of that place for nearly two years.”

Ricciardo and his McLaren team-mate, Lando Norris, will sport unique liveries on their MCL35Ms this weekend.

They’ll also be decked out in one-off overalls and retro themed helmets in keeping with the historic blue and orange design on their cars.

“I was already excited about going racing again in Monaco, but to be racing in Gulf colours for the weekend just raises the level of excitement even further,” the Australian said.

“I’ve even got a custom retro helmet to match the entire theme of the team this weekend.”

The 2018 race winner heads into this weekend’s event off the back of a sixth-place finish in the Spanish Grand Prix last time out.

It was a confidence building weekend in which he outpaced Norris in both qualifying and the race for the first time.

“We’ve been making a lot of progress over the last few races, and I think that really showed in Spain,” he suggested.

“I’m really starting to get to grips with the car and build my confidence.

“We know we’ll have our work cut out for us in Monaco, given how important qualifying is and how close we are to the competition, but we’ll give it our all and try to bring home some solid points for the team.”

With the confines of the Monaco street circuit especially tight, passing in Sunday’s race will be at a premium.

Qualifying will therefore play a critical part in the weekend.

“To be honest, Monaco’s always difficult to predict,” team principal Andreas Seidl admitted.

“I went there in my racing career with cars that have been good up to Monaco and suddenly we finished in P16 and P18 in qualifying and didn’t know why.

“We also have seen it the other way around in the past.

“The battle we are in is so close with Ferrari but also with other teams.

“It’s about one lap performance in qualifying; Monaco’s all about qualifying.

“I think we simply can’t expect the very close battle again.”

McLaren sits third in the constructors’ championship after the opening four events, five points clear of Ferrari but 47 behind Red Bull.

Ricciardo meanwhile sits seventh with 24 points, eight behind Sergio Perez in sixth and 17 back from Norris in fourth.

The unique Monaco Grand Prix format sees practice begin on Thursday, with Free Practice 1 getting underway at 19:30 AEST on Thursday evening.

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