Lewis Hamilton is bracing himself for an unpredictable and volatile foray around the tortuous streets of Monte-Carlo, but the British ace insists he is focused firmly on the job in hand despite the glamorous distractions that besiege the principality.
The Monaco Grand Prix is traditionally one of the most variable races on the calendar with the unforgiving 3.4km armco-lined street circuit providing zero room for error and almost always claiming one or two high profile scalps the safety car has been deployed no fewer than four times in the last six races.
“Unpredictable is the word that sums up Monaco from a performance perspective,â€ affirms Hamilton. “It was a great race in Turkey, we know the performance is there, but at Monaco literally anything can happen.â€
“There is no room for any error all weekend,â€ the McLaren ace adds, “You are on the limit the whole time, there are no long straights where you have a moment to think. It is the Grand Prix that every driver wants to win.â€
Prior to his charge to second place in Turkey, Hamilton was making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, with speculation rife about his relationship with singer Danni Minogue who he is reportedly set to date this weekend in Monaco.
The 23-year-old, who will sport a special diamond-encrusted helmet to appease sponsors this weekend, acknowledges that the millionaires playground provides the drivers with its fare share of distraction. But he insists that when the lights go out there is only one thing on his mind.
“It is not a distraction in any way, as with any race I am just fully focused on getting the job done. Monaco weekend more than any other is about being 100% in the zone and so I just keep myself to myself.â€
Hamilton arrives in the principality seven points adrift of championship leader Kimi Raikkonen and the Briton is relishing the challenge of racing at his favourite circuit and potentially closing the gap.
“I am so excited about the next race in Monaco and just can t wait,â€ exulted the Stevenage sensation after Turkey. “Monaco, my favourite race. You have the history all around, you can just feel it, and the atmosphere is fantastic. It is the Grand Prix that every driver wants to win. Being a street circuit it is very exciting to drive, there is no room for any error all weekend.â€
Hamilton’s qualifying effort last year was particularly sensational but ended up being overlooked by a controversial race which concluded with an investigation into McLaren s use of team orders.
The Briton lapped with a few hundredths of a second of then team-mate Fernando Alonso despite carrying five laps more fuel McLaren had chosen to pre-empt a safety car situation in the race by running their drivers on significantly different fuel loads.
The safety car never emerged and Hamilton was brought into the pits early by McLaren to avoid getting caught out by regulations which penalise re-fuelling under SC conditions.
Hamilton, who made plain his disappointment with the decision afterwards, was unable to use his extra laps to leap-frog his team-mate; although in practice he would have been hard-pressed to do so given the Spaniard s pace.
The FIA investigated McLaren s use of team-orders after the race but the Woking-based outfit were cleared of any wrong-doing.
The events marked the beginning of the row over team favouritism that plagued McLaren throughout most of year and resulted in Fernando Alonso leaving the team.