Vitaly Petrov has always cut something of an enigmatic figure on the F1 paddock, and his latest quote, looking ahead to next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, does little to change that perception.
The Russian, who is in his third season of grand prix racing but first with the Caterham team, received a barrage of abuse after daring to criticise the Mugello road course as too dangerous to host an F1 test – as it did at the start of the month – but then goes and says that he is looking forward to racing on the streets of Monaco next weekend….
"I have very good memories of Mugello, as this is where I won in F3000, so coming back is good, but I'm not sure the track is right for today's F1 cars,” were Petrov's words following his first outing at the Tuscan venue since graduating to the top flight, “You get very close to the walls and it's maybe a bit small for the cars now, but it's still a good challenge putting together a quick lap.”
If the Russian though that the walls were close in Italy, however, he will be in for a shock when he compares it to Monaco, but it appears that the aura of the Principality will help overcome any qualms that he may have.
"I've raced a lot in Monaco, not just in F1, and I had a podium there in GP2, when I finished second in 2009,” he reflected, “In F1, I've raced there twice - the first time wasn't so great, but last year was pretty good, right up until the point I crashed!
“That was so disappointing, but I couldn't avoid it. We had a good strategy and I'd had a good race up to that point, but that's how racing goes sometimes.”
Indeed, despite his troubled appearances there, it appears that Petrov actually has affection for Monte Carlo.
“Monaco is an unbelievable place,” he enthused, looking forward to next weekend's sixth race of the 2012 F1 campaign, “The atmosphere in the race is incredible. It's just an amazing place to drive a racing car and I really love it.
“The track itself is always a little bit dirty at the start of the weekend and it's quite difficult to get tyre temperatures up during the lap. It's tricky too, because the walls are so close. If you make one mistake or have a little bit of oversteer, you don't even get a chance to correct it - you're in the wall.
“It takes quite a bit of mental preparation and you need to be totally focused for every single lap of every session."