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Tuesday, 15 January, 2019

Daniel Ricciardo looks equal to Monaco challenge

Red Bulls dominant in practice

Daniel Ricciardo negotiates his way between the Monaco barriers
1 of 1

Monaco Grand Prix qualifying
Channel 4 & Sky Sports F1, 2pm Saturday

The twisting public roads of Monaco make for a unique challenge for Formula One cars.

And it’s a challenge Red Bull are more than equal to, judging from their form in practice.

The Milton Keynes team dominated on Thursday with Daniel Ricciardo edging out Max Verstappen in both sessions.

Despite Ricciardo’s breathtaking win in China, the Red Bull cars have been a bit disappointing this season, lagging further behind Mercedes and Ferrari than pre-season form suggested.

They are often fast in race conditions, but take time to hit top pace and are too far from the lead to make any impression by then.

Neither Red Bull driver has started higher than fourth on the grid this season, which hasn’t helped either.

A power deficit from their Renault engine is partly to blame, however the French motor seems well suited to Monaco, where torque rather than top speed is king.

In Thursday afternoon’s practice, all six Renault-powered cars featured in the top ten.

Ferrari and Mercedes will have been running their engines conservatively on Thursday but oodles of power isn’t necessarily a good thing in Monte Carlo.

In Azerbaijan, Kimi Raikkonen lost pole position when an unexpected surge of power from his turbo coming out of a slow corner caught him out.

It could be that the Renault unit is more forgiving and predictable in its power delivery.

Bookmakers anticipate a four-way battle for perhaps the season’s most crucial pole position – no one has won in Monaco from lower than third on the grid in more than 20 years.

Five drivers are priced at 5-1 or shorter. Last year’s pole-sitter Raikkonen is tempting at 16-1 having been in impressive form all season.

But having had a half-second advantage in practice, Red Bull could have this between them.

Bookmakers are split on whether Ricciardo or Verstappen should be favourite.

The rapid Dutchman is certainly capable of landing his first career pole position, but Ricciardo, who took pole in Monaco in 2016, looks the safer bet.

D Ricciardo fastest qualifier
2pts 2-1 Hills, Sky Bet

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Bookmakers anticipate a four-way battle for perhaps the season’s most crucial pole position
E.W. Terms
Sky bet