Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will be hoping for big things in Monaco.
Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will be hoping for big things in Monaco.

Ricciardo can smile as Red Bull primed

FERRARI face a pivotal Monaco GP weekend to bounce back from recent setbacks in 2018's title race while Red Bull have a chance to shine.

Since opening up the season with back-to-back victories, Ferrari have endured three difficult races with lead challenger Sebastian Vettel not finishing on the podium during that run.

The recent Spanish GP, when Mercedes were first and second and Vettel only fourth amid excessive tyre wear, means Ferrari trail in both championship battles heading into F1's showpiece weekend.

"Ferrari need to win that one, as Mercedes needed to win Spain," said Sky Sports F1 pundit Anthony Davidson.

"Barcelona is a Mercedes track, they got the job done. Ferrari are now going to Monaco and they need to get the job done there to keep their championship hopes alive."

Former racer turned F1 analyst Martin Brundle added: "Ferrari need a good result, coming off the back of a couple of scruffy grands prix where they've not scored anything like their potential number of points."

Having gone 15 years without winning in the Principality, Monaco was the scene of arguably Ferrari's most impressive performance last season as they locked out the front positions in qualifying and then the race as Mercedes toiled on the tortuous streets.

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari will be hoping for an improved performance. (Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty)
Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari will be hoping for an improved performance. (Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty)

This year's SF71-H had appeared F1's quickest car up until Barcelona, where Mercedes rebounded from a series of challenging races for themselves to secure an impressive one-two result.

However, F1's world champions have already played down their prospects of a similar pack-leading performance this week.

"We don't head into the weekend as favourites, they are Red Bull and Ferrari," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insisted.

"Red Bull are strong in the slow-speed corners and where straight-line speed is less important, while Ferrari dominated last year."

If the events of Spain mean Monaco has taken on near must-win proportions for Ferrari, the prospect of a competitive Red Bull could yet complicate the task ahead for the Scuderia.

"Red Bull should be mighty, but I don't think the Mercedes will be struggling that much either," Brundle said.

The RB14s are perfectly suited to the track at Monaco.
The RB14s are perfectly suited to the track at Monaco.

Neither Daniel Ricciardo nor Max Verstappen have yet qualified higher than fourth this season but, with the slow-speed nature of Monaco helping cancel out part of rival teams' engine superiority, the RB14's strength in twisty corners is expected to help Red Bull provide a sterner weekend-long challenge.

"We're looking forward to Monaco," Red Bull chief Christian Horner said.

"The car has been strong in sector three which is usually a good indication for a track like Monaco. Both drivers have always gone well around there. It's an opportunity for us."

Verstappen agrees that the Principality offers Red Bull, who last won F1's showpiece race six years ago, reasons for optimism.

"What we brought (to Barcelona) all works, so that's good, and it worked in the areas where we wanted it to," he said.

"Overall just a bit more performance and you could see the last sector was very strong all weekend, so that was very positive for Monaco."


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