Ricciardo is in a three-way title fight.
Ricciardo is in a three-way title fight.

Ricciardo’s role in historic 31-year first

DANIEL Ricciardo's victory for Red Bull in the Monaco GP means the opening two months of the 2018 Formula 1 season have matched a record last set over 30 years ago.

For the first time since 1987, three teams have each won two races from the season's opening six rounds.

Red Bull's Monaco win followed Ricciardo's first of the year in China, while Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton in Azerbaijan and Spain - and Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel in Australia and Bahrain - have also claimed two apiece so far.

The last time such a split happened was 31 years ago when McLaren (Alain Prost), Williams (Nigel Mansell) and Lotus (Ayrton Senna) were the three teams and drivers to equally share the victories between them across the first six grands prix.

This is only the 11th season in the proceeding 31 years that at least three teams have won one or more grands prix after six rounds.

And only twice in that time, 2012 and 2013, have four or more teams won at least one race across the opening half-dozen rounds.

Although Hamilton, Vettel and Ricciardo have each triumphed twice since the season began in Australia two months ago, the Mercedes driver has had the more consistent results and leads his Ferrari rival by 14 points in the drivers' championship heading to next week's Canadian GP.

Ricciardo, who retired in Bahrain with a mechanical fault and Azerbaijan after colliding with Max Verstappen, is 38 points back.

Hamilton is the current bookmakers' championship favourite, while Ricciardo is third-favourite.

Ricciardo will be hoping for many more shoeys in 2018.
Ricciardo will be hoping for many more shoeys in 2018.

However, neither of the championship's current top-two are viewing the title fight as an exclusive duel between them like last year.

"The battle is between all three teams and all six drivers," Vettel told Sky F1 after finishing second to Ricciardo in Monaco.

Hamilton, who was third in the Principality, said: "It is definitely a three-way fight.

"Seb is still the strongest. Their car has worked well all season so far. But it is a three-way fight and Red Bull will continue to get stronger through the year."

And Hamilton's prediction of a season-long battle for supremacy between the grid's "Big Three" teams is shared by F1's motorsports managing director Ross Brawn.

"For now, we can enjoy this season that promises to be closely contested right down to the wire," said Brawn.

"The first six races of the year have produced three different winners from three teams, who have each won twice.

"The last time we saw something similar was in 2013, when we had four winners from four teams.

"That's positive for the rest of the season as uncertainty generates more interest in Formula 1 and the top three teams are definitely more evenly matched than at any time in the hybrid power era."


This article first appeared on Sky Sports and was republished with permission