Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld both recognise that this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix is the undisputed jewel in the crown of the Formula 1 calendar, but whilst the former is keen to get out and do battle on the glamorous Principality's narrow, tortuous streets, the latter fears there could be a number of broken wings as the drivers navigate their way around the opening lap.
Both Kubica and Heidfeld have stood up on the second step of the podium in Monte Carlo – the Pole last year and the German with Williams back in 2005 – and both would dearly love to go one position better still, but acknowledge that aboard BMW-Sauber's underperforming F1.09, their chances are likely to be limited at best.
Extensive improvements for the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona last time out – the beginning of the European leg of the F1 campaign – failed to produce the leap up the grid that had been hoped for and anticipated, but Heidfeld's seventh-place finish around the Circuit de Catalunya did at least give the Munich and Hinwil-based concern some cause for cheer and optimism.
What's more, the singular characteristics and demanding and punishing nature of Monaco have in the past led to some shock results and favoured the brave – and few are likely to take on the unforgiving walls and Armco barriers more courageously than Kubica.
“I'm a big fan of street circuits,” enthused the Kraków native, “so I'm looking forward to the race in Monaco. I always have a really good feeling going into the weekend here, and I enjoy driving between the barriers and walls. There is no margin for error, which makes things particularly interesting. Of course, you can't tell in advance how the 2009-spec cars will feel there with the new aerodynamics and slick tyres, [but] we'll find out more on Thursday.”
Heidfeld is the man who has registered every single one of BMW's six points thus far in 2009, though, courtesy of the runner-up spot in the rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang early last month and the two markers he notched up under the Spanish sun. Though by his own admission far from the party animal himself, the man from Mönchengladbach did concede that the atmosphere in Monte Carlo when F1 arrives in town is truly something else.
“Monaco is one of the highlights of the season,” stated the 32-year-old. “It's crazy that the venue least suited to Formula 1 is also the most popular. The tight and twisty street circuit is brilliant! Only Macau is comparable, but we don't drive there in Formula 1.
“There may be a bit less hype nowadays, but the Formula 1 weekend in Monte Carlo is still something special; it's all about Formula 1 and parties. There are a lot of famous people around, the harbour is packed with yachts, the sound of the F1 engines reverberates across the Principality and the track is jammed with crowds of people through the evening. In Monaco the spectators get closer to the action than at any other venue. For me, every time I come here it's a wonderful sight.
“[However], on a few occasions already this season, the new, larger front wings have proved to be a bit awkward in the tight confines at the start of races. It's extremely tight through the first corner in Monte Carlo, so there's a big risk of knocking your front wing off against another car.”