The McLaren team is hoping that it can finally shrug off its lacklustre start to the 2009 Formula One season and return to the fore at an event where it has tasted regular success in the past.
The Monaco Grand Prix has been a happy hunting ground for the Woking team in recent years - indeed, its record in the Principality is second to none among F1 rivals - and, amid the hope of better fortunes this weekend, the squad is confident that it can
be battling it out with the likes of Brawn, Red Bull and Toyota this weekend.
"Everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is rightfully proud of the team's reputation around the streets of Monte Carlo," team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitted, "We have won the grand prix for the past two seasons, and McLaren has triumphed here an unprecedented 15 times – more than any other F1 team. As a result, we go into the 2009 race with a greater degree of optimism than we had going into Barcelona. Both Lewis and Heikki enjoy this circuit and we feel MP4-24 will be a more competitive proposition around the streets of the Principality.”
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton makes no secret of his love for the tight confines of Monaco, and finally completed a set of victories there when he triumphed in the wet-dry F1 encounter - with a little help from a well-timed clout of the barrier at Tabac - in 2008.
“Monaco is my favourite circuit," the Briton enthused, "The sensation you get from racing up the hill at 175mph, trying to make as straight a line as possible between the barriers while just shaving them with the walls of the tyres is unbelievable – the best sensation you could ever have in a F1 car.
"There's an expectation that Monaco will be another good circuit for our car package because the combination of low-speed corners and absence of any really fast stuff should suit MP4-24, and I really hope so because it would be fantastic to have a competitive car and to be fighting at the front again."
Between them, Hamilton and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen have amassed a paltry 13 points this season, largely due to the MP4-24 struggling to match its rivals, but the seemingly luckless Finn is just as keen to get to round six of the 2009 campaign.
“I really enjoy driving on street circuits and I'm optimistic that we've got a good package for Monaco," he claimed, "Although the results don't show it, because I was forced to start from the pit-lane, I had a very strong race there last year and charged up from the back to finish eighth. Hopefully, I'll have an easier race this year - coming off the back of a disappointing race in Spain last week, I'm more determined than ever to get a strong result under my belt."
Kovalainen also confirmed that he would be relying on some of the sport's newest technology to help make headway in one of the world's most notorious events.
"We will be using KERS in Monaco, and one of the questions will be whether we'll actually be able to use it to get past other cars," he noted, "As usual, KERS should
be a benefit for us, but anything can happen in Monte Carlo.”