Daniel Ricciardo has ensured that Red Bull Racing will start its 250th outing in Formula 1 from pole position.
The Australian had been fastest in every practice session so far in Monaco. He kept up his perfect record through each of the three rounds of qualifying.
Along the way he became the first – and to date only – F1 driver to complete a lap of Monaco in under 81 seconds.
He posted his time of 1:10.810s on his first flying lap in Q3, and it was enough to put him out of reach of the rest of the field.
“I love this place. A one minute ten is a lot of fun,” he said afterwards. “I knew the first lap was pretty good and I felt it was enough.
“We don’t have as much power [as Mercedes and Ferrari] in qualifying, but we still had enough around here to get it done. So that feels good.
“We didn’t really change much. It was one of those pretty smooth [sessions]. I could just build up to it and find my rhythm and had some fun
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“We set a statement on Thursday and now we’ve been quickest in every session,” he continued. “Knowing we had a great package all week, we need to push it but we don’t need to overdrive it.
- Brilliant Ricciardo claims Monaco pole with unbeatable record pace
“I’ve done everything I can so far. Let’s finish the job tomorrow. I’m pumped, it’s been a good few days,” he added. “There’s still a lot of fire in this belly.
“Just the race tomorrow and then we’ll celebrate!”
Ricciardo’s jubilation contrasted sharply with the gloom n the other side of the Red Bull garage.
Max Verstappen was unable to take part in qualifying because of damage to his gearbox following an accident in final practice earlier in the day.
“We’re all pushing each other, particularly myself and Max in the same team,” Ricciardo said. “It’s no surprise, these things can happen … There’s very little room for error.
Ricciardo admitted that Verstappen’s crash had played on his thoughts during qualifying.
“It’s always in the back of your mind here,” he said. “The risk and reward is very real, and it was proven this morning.
“[But] to be fast you can’t think about those things,” he added.
Verstappen will now start right at the back of the grid on Sunday, as far away from Ricciardo as possible. After their embarrassing clash in Baku, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Asked whether he welcomes a race without having to worry about what his team mate would be doing, Ricciardo seemed quite aware of this upside.
“It’s not a bad question! Let’s move on…” he replied.
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