Daniel Ricciardo and Brendon Hartley, reserve drivers for Red Bull’s F1 squad, provided the warm-up act for their team’s 1-2 dominance by posting the two stand-out performances of the Formula Renault 3.5 support race earlier in the day.
The Australian and the New Zealander, who both drive for Tech 1, experienced different fates in the 45-minute race around the streets of the principality, but both were memorable.
Ricciardo, who has looked strong all season so far without achieving a victory, led from start to finish and took the win ahead of championship leader Mikhail Aleshin of Carlin and Epsilon’s Albert Costa.
Hartley started in eighth after making light contact with the wall in qualifying, but shouldered his way through to fourth at the flag with an intimidating drive that included some unlikely overtaking manoeuvres.
Normally Formula Renault 3.5 runs two races with multiple qualifying sessions, but in the compressed schedule of the Formula One weekend it was restricted to a single race and a qualifying period divided into two groups according to provisional championship standings to avoid issues with traffic.
Ricciardo secured pole with Aleshin beside him on the front row. Behind them were Costa – driving with an injured finger that made steering painfully difficult – and Comtec’s Stefano Colletti, a native of Monaco.
Watched by former WSR competitors Robert Kubica and Jaime Alguersuari, Ricciardo made a perfect start to arrive first out of Ste Devote, ahead of Aleshin, Costa, Coletti and ISR’s American driver Alexander Rossi. Within one lap he had created a two-second lead.
As Ricciardo went about extending the gap Draco’s Nathanael Berthon was caught out in Mirabeau and put out of the race, while the Australian’s team-mate Hartley got the better of Fortec’s Jon Lancaster to recover eighth place. His next task was to hunt down ISR’s Filip Salaquarda.
Ricciardo continued in the same vein for ten laps, stabilising his lead over Aleshin and Costa, with Coletti, Rossi and Fortec’s Sten Pentus in the chasing pack. Hartley made his way past Salaquarda at Mirabeau, followed by Lancaster, to take seventh and eighth.
Hartley passed Pentus a few laps later before going wheel to wheel with Coletti and Rossi, resulting in contact with the American on the exit of Rascasse. Rossi fought hard but made an error and hit the barriers at Casino.
Hartley was now in fifth place, and he won another position on the last lap by getting past Coletti in the Grand Hotel hairpin.
But Ricciardo’s win was never in doubt and he duly became the third successive rookie to win the series’ Monaco round. Lancaster finished seventh and Greg Mansell 15th. In the standings, Aleshin keeps the overall lead, seven points ahead of Ricciardo.