Red Bull team principal Christian Horner apologised to Daniel Ricciardo after a calamitous team pit stop cost the Australian driver a near-certain victory at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Ricciardo was comfortably in the lead in Sunday’s race when he came into the pits for a tyre change, only to find that his pit crew did not have the right tyres ready.
After finishing the race in second place behind Lewis Hamilton, Ricciardo was irate at missing out on a fourth career race win, particularly since another team mistake had cost him a shot at victory in Spain two weeks ago, where he finished fourth following a three-stop strategy.
“Two races in a row I’ve been screwed,” said Ricciardo, who started the race from pole position and had been electrifyingly quick in practice. “They should have been ready. It hurts.”
“We as a team owe Daniel a huge apology today as we failed to support him,” Horner said. “The delay at his pit stop cost him the lead and despite some excellent driving to get close to Lewis, he couldn’t get past.”
Horner put the mistake down to a “miscommunication” due to the peculiar design of the Monaco circuit, notably the “tightness” of the working space in the team garages.
“The garage is downstairs, (and) tyres are on heat both in the garage and behind the garage,” Horner said. “Unfortunately the set of tyres that were called for weren’t readily to hand and were at the back of the garage.”
The vital lost time meant that Ricciardo emerged from the pit lane behind Hamilton’s Mercedes, whereas he would have been ahead had the pit stop been a routine one.
Given that Monaco is the hardest track to overtake on in F1, it would then have been extremely unlikely – barring a mistake – that Hamilton could have caught and overtaken Ricciardo, who was also showing the greater speed.
After the gaffe, Red Bull tried to gee Ricciardo up but he snapped back on race radio “nothing you could say would make that any better. Save it.”
Another mistake at the Canadian GP in two weeks’ time is not advisable, given Ricciardo’s fury at missing out on a rare win against the dominant Mercedes cars.
“I took Barcelona on the chin and then took it well but (that’s) two in a row now,” Ricciardo said. “I’m not sure where to go from here, what to do. Obviously they’ve got to understand what’s going on and learn from it, but this win I’ll never get back.”