Get your money on Red Bull for next weekend’s F1 Monaco Grand Prix?
Red Bull Racing
Red Bull Monaco
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 May 2016   |  2:02 pm GMT  |  123 comments

Flushed with their unexpected victory in the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, Red Bull Racing can be forgiven for feeling some optimism for the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix.

Although the emphasis in Monte Carlo is on the chassis nimbleness and driver skill more than the engine power, the long awaited upgrade to the Renault engine looks set to move it closer to Mercedes, which is also good news for some of the races that follow.

Red Bull has not won the Monaco race since 2012, the second of Mark Webber’s victories there, while Ferrari has not won Monaco since 2001. Both are challenging Mercedes’ recent dominance and the running of the updated Renault engine over the last two days in testing at Barcelona gives further grounds for optimism. Renault has been targeting an improvement of 0.4s from the upgraded engine, which is a very big number when it comes to engine performance, equivalent to over 50bhp.

Renault F1

Ricciardo was 0.680s behind Mercedes in qualifying in Spain and 0.505s behind in China last month. However the figure in race pace terms is closer to 0.4s, so that upgrade could put them close.

Renault management have not confirmed that they will run the new engine in Monaco; they have to assess the feasibility of introducing it earlier than planned on what is a very specific type of circuit. Canada, the next race, is certainly going to be a race where the extra power and driveability will be a bonus, with its long straights and acceleration moments out of low speed chicanes. Austria is also a power circuit.

The key indicators for the Monaco Grand Prix in terms of chassis performance are the final sector at Barcelona, with the low speed chicane. In qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, pole sitter Lewis Hamilton set a time of 28.736s through Sector 3, while Daniel Ricciardo’s best for Red Bull was 28.931s, a delta of 0.195s.

Mercedes are still confident that they have the best chassis in F1 currently, as well as the best engine, but there is no doubt that Red Bull has made strides with both and Ricciardo said at the weekend that there was a palpable sense of excitement at the team, after a difficult 2015 season in which the team failed to win a race for the first time since 2008.

Daniel Ricciardo

“You can be sure that Max and I will both be ragging it in Monaco,” said the Australian.

The strategy looks likely to be a one-stop again in Monaco, despite the first appearance of Pirelli’s new ultra soft tyre. The time and track position loss of making a second stop far outweighs the degradation of performance as tyres fade over a long stint. So qualifying will be crucial and the Red Bull is good at looking after its tyres.

Ricciardo got a good jump on Max Verstappen in qualifying in Spain, by adding in a couple of turns of front wing for his final run, something Verstappen was not aware possible as such a move would have destabilised the Toro Rosso. He has had some more time to learn the car this week with a day’s testing, but he’ll still be improvising next week in Monaco.

Meanwhile Ricciardo has today come out with a series of tweets putting the disappointment of Barcelona behind him and congratulating Verstappen on his win.

Daniel Ricciardo

The updated engine ran in the Renault and badged as TAG Heuer in the Red Bull chassis at the Barcelona test on Tuesday and Wednesday with positive results. Rival teams question whether the improvement is as much as 0.4s but admit that the signs are that there is a gain of several tenths.

Renault admit that they took some wrong directions in evolving the hybrid turbo engine, after three wins in the inaugural 2014 season with Ricciardo. Renault sources suggest that one of the root causes of their relative weakness in the early years of hybrid was the reduction in headcount at the engine base in Viry-Chatillon when Flavio Briatore was in charge of Renault F1 operations in 2009, at the time when KERS hybrid system was being developed. He wanted the expertise in electrification and energy harvesting to be at the chassis headquarters in Enstone.

Conversely Mercedes built on its work at its engine base in Brixworth, making it a centre of excellence for hybrid technology, batteries and high density electric motors. Those missing years and difficulty of hiring talented engineers to work in Paris, have cost Renault, and it was not able to invest enough and early enough to recover.

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@James: where is this Ricciardo front wing thing from? Because I heard on a Dutch website days ago but not seen it corroborated elsewhere.


A good source, over last weekend


Ginger Spice? 😉


I think it’s funny how one good race by Verstappen and many people are writing off Ricciardo. DR has stunning one lap pace and racecraft second to none. Verstappen clearly has a lot of upside, but I doubt he will win the qualifying battle with DR this year, so he’s likely to come off second best in points from now on, considering how important starting position is with so many tracks where overtaking is difficult. If he does win the quali battle then I’ll be happy to accept he’ll be the best in F1 even as early as next year.

And regarding the race next week – last year RBR were over 2 seconds (!!) off Merc in quali for Spain, and 1 sec behind in Monaco – this year they were 0.7 sec behind in Spain, so that does bode well for a decent challenge to Merc this year.

Tornillo Amarillo

Monaco is absolutely for HAMILTON’s. He could get the pole again and full focus.

But ROSBERG could do some dirty tricks in qualy or race day… He would prefer that than sitting watching HAMILTON catches up.

MAGNUSSEN in the podium. He needs to show something if he has the upgraded Renault PU.

KIMI P4, the others could clash because of envy 🙂


I highly doubt, Renault would have found 0.4 sec gain.

Even if their gain is that substantial, I dare say, the front row will be locked out by LH & NR.
Both the Merc drivers know a thing or two about winning at Monaco. Looking forward to their qualifying battle.

It will be interesting to see the progress of Verstappen at Monaco. Whether he has learned his lessons from last year ?

And if bad qualifying performance hasn’t hurt Ferrari enough in Spain, it will well and truly hurt them in Monaco.
They say a driver can make the difference in Monaco, so can Vettel and Raikkonen find that extra tenths of a sec???

Kenny Carwash

I think this will be the closest race we’ve seen for quite a while. Monaco is all about throwing as much downforce as you can onto the car and to hell with drag. Red Bull have the best aero package and that will allow them to overcome a lot of the engine deficit to Mercedes. Ferrari should be there or thereabouts as well.

I think we might witness that rarest of F1 happenings: the drivers making the difference.


Now that would be refreshing.


Pre-Barcelona it was all about Ferari bringing the fight to Merc.
Let’s see how it turns out this time.
GO-RIC (and no extra stops please Redbull)


Max was sensational at Monaco last year (before his crash), so clearly he loves the place.

Watch out for more this year!


Renault engine is coming strong ! They were very good on the straight in Spain. Together with the superb Red-Bull chassis we can expect some more wins for both Ricciardo and Verstappen.


It’s a pity that Max Verstappen moved on to a big team so early.
Like to see great drivers in medium teams.
Would love to watch Max emulate fluke crazy driving moments like Senna/Lotus @ Adelaide 1985 and Schumy/Benetton @ Monaco 1993.


For the development of Max there is nothing wrong with a strong team mate as Daniel. He must learn to deal with the fact that he is not faster. He has to improve every race. But his motivation seems to be all right. Good example of the dedication of Max: The Saturday evening of the Spanish GP after quali, someone called Max dad, Jos to congratulate him with the result of Max. I thought it was Jan Lammers, formal Dutch F1-driver, I’m not sure. Anyway, Jos was very pleased with the result. Jos told that Max was far from satisfied with the result and he was already a couple of hours in consultation with his engineers were the 0.4 sec. of Daniel in Q3 came from. In my view this is the hallmark of dedication it takes to win in your sport. Others will find it arrogant and found it normal that he had looked Games of Trones on Saturday evening. If RBR is able to let both drivers push eachother to a higher level, they maybe are able to surprise in a couple of races. For sure the tension between both Mercedes drivers is not helping Mercedes, which is an advantage for RBR and Ferrari. Ferrari is also under a lot of pressure.


Perhaps RBR can beat one of the Mercedes drivers, but to beat them both would require a similar accident as in Spain. I somehow think that RBR might be a bit faster than Ferrari in Monaco.


Honestly, lets read between the lines or at least listen to what James is saying.
What James won’t say but know is that Ricciardo is being setup/groomed as a number 2 now.
RBR are just doing it earlier in a drivers career and RIC is the victim. RBR know RIC is off contract maybe not this year but next so with Max in the mix happy to let RIC go and do a Webber on him.
Tell me im wrong ….

Kenny Carwash

I wouldn’t agree with that at all and I think you’re reading far too much into one race weekend in which Red Bull made a horrible strategy call for one car. The Kvyat/Verstappen move made sense, as RB needed to tie Verstappen down. I don’t feel they’ve got any firm plans for the next phase, considering Ricciardo is a proven winner and could conceivably be at the team for another ten years. That said, Verstappen/Sainz does feel like a better fit all round and I’m sure Ricciardo will be looking at his options. Realistically though, these options are few in the short term: he’s got a cast iron contract until 2018 so any interested parties would need to pay handsomely.

It’s hard to say where Danny will end up in the longer term. I can’t see Vettel entertaining him at Ferrari. They didn’t really have a difficult relationship and Ricciardo’s superiority was primarily a result of him adapting better to the new car’s less aggressively-blown floor, but why would you risk unsettling the driver you’re building the team around by hiring the one man who’s beaten him in F1? I can only see three options for Ricciardo: staying with Red Bull, replacing Rosberg or Hamilton at Mercedes if their situation becomes untenable, or partnering Vandoorne at McLaren in a year or two. If I was a betting man, I’d stick a few quid on him ending up at McLaren, but that relies on McLaren and Honda producing a package that can win races in 2018


I think that’s got legs as well Kenny.


Hi Kenny,

That’s a pretty good summary mate…I tend to agree


That is not correct

I’m not saying that at all

You view this through the Webber Vettel prism but different combinations incur different protocols. Ricciardo is a Red Bull front runner, developed by Marko’s programme, like Vettel.

Very different from Webber who Marko’s had no influence over


Absolutely! I do not understand why Ricci fans are getting so defensive so early on. Come on, the man himself doesnt feel much pressure, and is a brilliant driver – Have some faith in his Quality? Why are the fans getting ready to torch the Town Square? Talk like that from his fans would probably make even Ricci Cringe.


I’m not exactly a DR ‘fan’. I like what I see both as a person and as a driver, but from my armchair RB sacrificed him for headlines by ‘gifting’ MV the debut win.
There would be a level of Karma if DR won this weekend.


Sorry James but it is not like you are exactly saying the opposite…

“But they either didn’t want to ask Verstappen to do that or didn’t want to prioritise Ricciardo for the win. Perhaps a supremely strong result for Verstappen on his Red Bull debut would justify dropping Daniil Kvyat in favour of the Dutchman”


I rate Dan as I did Mark. Mark, well, it was hard watching him after 2010.
What does anyone think about Ricciardo vs Vestappen for the rest of the season?


The racing will be close i think, it will depend a lot on strategy and luck.
I always have my money on Daniel and Valentino as long as the odds are good.

Kenny Carwash

I think Ricciardo will shade it overall. He’ll be fired up after the team threw away his chance at a win, which will serve him well in the next few races. Being in a frontrunning car brings more opportunity for high profile accidents and I suspect Max will learn this, just like Kvyat did.


If RIC is leading after the first stops in Monaco, with VES in 2nd place, I sense he’ll get switched on to a 2-stop strategy.


Whahaha… its funny how fast conspiracies emerge now Daniel has a battle on his hands… Max was faster in Spain, and will beat Daniel on a regularly base soon!


Given up on Ferrari, now it is time to say Red Bull can beat Merc to make F1 interesting and attract viewers in the weekend


JA, any truth to the rumour that RB are working on a 2 stop strategy for RIC? 🙂


Suddenly, the fact that Riccardo had two punctures recently, may not be as innocent as “debris”, if all this Tyre Pressure Cheat designs talks being floated around is of any consequence. If any team are brilliantly fast at reacting to any rules change.. its RedBull, but maybe they are getting too low on the pressure and too near the Pirelli Critical limit? Can you please find out James about which teams are being doubted? It cant be Ferrari as they seem lost and playing catch up to find clever tricks themselves.


I have heard different – the fastest way around Monaco is the 3 stopper, but it is a sectet and only Riciardo will use it


“Ricciardo got a good jump on Max Verstappen in qualifying in Spain, by adding in a couple of turns of front wing for his final run, something Verstappen was not aware possible as such a move would have destabilised the Toro Rosso. He has had some more time to learn the car this week with a day’s testing, but he’ll still be improvising next week in Monaco.”

Seriously James, Verstappen’s race engineer would have known precisely the effect of “adding a couple of turns of front wing”. So either Verstappen didn’t listen to the advice of his race engineer or his race engineer didn‘t push the point hard enough. I picked it watching the 2 runs Ricciardo did in Q2, the second of which was unnecessary as he was already well inside the qualifying time for Q3. Unless he was trying a set up change with the intention of doing a single run in Q3. The car was understeering deep enough through the corner such that when power was applied it oversteered ie; understeer causing oversteer. If I had been in Verstappen’s or his engineer’s place I would have been all over whatever set up change came from Ricciardo’s additional run.
A driver’s trust in his race engineer and vice versa takes time, but this was a singular, very basic (especially in F1 terms) and easily demonstrable set up change. I’m surprised that even this early in the relationship there wasn’t enough mutual trust. Time will tell if it’s a personality trait or a one off scenario.


@Gary. Wow, that’s quite a story! If it’s true what you are saying, it must also be very likely that Max once refused to have milk in his tea, even though Horner insisted on it! Something must be very wrong at Red Bull… 😉


Can we bet on Lewis crying on the podium again?

Is there odds for this anywhere?


When in doubt – blame Flavio Briatore 🙂


Flav is a soft target for what would have been a corporate level decision at Renault. Mind you, it feels odd to be supporting this guy!


I think Mercedes is still and will be entire season on the league on their own, although on a specific circuit, they might have some hickups, just like they did last season.
Renault are saying all along that upgraded engine will be introduced in Canada, so I don’t think they will rush it in Monaco.
Even without this upgrade, Red Bull is on par with Ferrari, even on a race trim, which was Ferrari’s forte this year, so with upgraded PU I think Red Bull will be second fastest, still some margin behind Mercedes. Too bad that’s true, I’ve been looking forward to someone to bring fight to Mercedes finally. We’ve had enough of walking in the park in last couple of seasons. 🙂
We even didn’t have decent fights between Lewis and Nico, except from every now and then.
Bring it on Renault…it is about time. 🙂


“The strategy looks likely to be a one-stop again in Monaco, despite the first appearance of Pirelli’s new ultra soft tyre.”

You never know but am sure if Ricciardo gets pole from Verstappen, there might be a plausible strategy using the ultra softs that Red Bull may consider for him to switch to


Renault may have 1 upgraded engine for both renault and red bull for Monaco.

Only 1 per team due to spare parts availability.

Who will red bull give the PU to? This will speak volumes.


Likely the driver that’s currently in front on the championship (also for Renault)? That’s what other websites are predicting at least..


If they have 2 upgraded PUs, why would they give one to Red Bull?
Merc use their upgraded PUs first, then sometime latter they trickle them down to customers.
The same goes for Ferrari, so why would Renault do any different?

Stephen Taylor

James you are incorrect . Ferrari last won at Monaco in 2001 . DC won for McLaren in 2000.

Stephen Taylor

James as a Kimi fan I have been waiting over 3 years for Kimi to break Hakkinen’s Finnish national record for F1 wins . I have a feeling it’s either going to happen next weekend or at Spa (Kimi’s favourite circuit) later in the season. Even if Kimi never comes close to a WDC title again I want him to break that record.


They are equal in terms of wins? Right?
If so, how’s Hakkinnen the record holder?
They have to be joint record holders. 🙂


Is there confirmation that Pirelli are bringing in on-track tyre pressure monitoring for Monaco, after rumours that teams are getting round their minimum pressure rules with rims letting out pressure on track?

Now, it emerges that the sport is fast-tracking a solution, with technology to monitor the pressures during the actual sessions ready to be rolled out in Monaco next weekend.

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