Heikki Kovalainen insists he has yet to show his true colours around the bumpy streets of Monte Carlo.
The Finn lapped the demanding 3.4km street circuit a full seven tenths of a second slower than team-mate Lewis Hamilton in Thursday warm up, the McLaren driver struggling to hit the sweet spot in his setup.
Kovalainen, who failed to score in Barcelona and Turkey due to his high speed shunt and Istanbul run-in with Kimi Raikkonen, has warned his rivals that there is still more pace to come from his MP4-23 around the Principality.
“I am confident there is still more to come,” declared the 26-year-old. “Towards the end of the second session when I put on a new set of tyres we had made some set-up changes which were not as positive as we thought they would be.”
“I am confident that we will continue to improve in Saturday’s practice session. It’s always great to drive around this track, and it’s almost impossible to describe what it feels like. I can’t wait for the rest of the Monaco Grand Prix.”
The news of further improvement bodes well for Lewis Hamilton who topped the time sheets in the Thursday afternoon session a full four tenths clear of his closest challengers, Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen.
“The car felt great almost immediately and I was able to show a good pace from the very beginning,” enthused the British ace. “As the circuit evolved throughout both practice sessions we made some good progress with both the set-up and tyre evaluation. I spent the first session on the same set of tyres.
“There is a long way to go, but I enjoy this so much and we will work hard to continue making progress.”
McLaren-Mercedes Boss Norbert Haug was buoyed by the performances of Hamilton and Kovalainen and is hoping the team will build on its encouraging early form in the all-crucial qualifying session.
“In Saturday’s qualifying we now want to build on the basis we achieved today,” said the German. “The weather forecast predicts rain for the race on Sunday, but on Saturday there is a chance for a dry qualifying.”
Kovalainen in particular will be hoping for a strong grid slot so that he can get back on terms with championship leaders Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton.