Pedro de la Rosa says he expects HRT to be closer to the rest of the field than in previous races when F1 heads to Monaco this weekend, despite insisting that the street circuit is by far the most difficult on the calendar.

With the F112 having been completed late, the team was forced to miss the season opener having failed to qualify in Australia and has been off the back of the field ever since.

Speaking ahead of the event however, de la Rosa said he felt HRT stood a better chance of fighting with its rivals at a venue where its weaknesses wouldn't be as apparent.

"Monaco is by far the most difficult and technical circuit in the entire Championship," he said. "The only trick to this track is to do miles and not change the car's set-up too much because you can find more time in the driver than in the car. We must try to do as many laps as possible on Thursday in order to build up some confidence for qualifying because it's the most important thing in Monaco.

"In the race the most important thing is to manage your strategy well and it's more than probable that there will be a safety car so luck can also come in to play. We're all really looking forward to the race because it's a less aerodynamic track than Barcelona and, therefore, we expect to be closer to the leaders than in the last Grand Prix."

Team-mate Narain Karthikeyan admitted that he was hoping for a better weekend than in Barcelona last time out, while team boss Luis Perez-Sala revealed that minor upgrades will be introduced by HRT in an attempt to improve performance.

"Monaco is a very special Grand Prix and a circuit that, in my day, I really liked to drive at because you're always very close to the guardrails and you can't make one mistake," he said. "It's a very demanding track mechanically, where drivers need great ability and suffer physically and psychologically because you can't make any slip-ups and therefore you need to be fully focused at all times.

"It's a tough test for the car's reliability and even more so if it is hot. We have minor upgrades for this race, which we hope will help us to close the gap to the front pack. The team is really looking forward to taking on a beautiful race as is Monaco."

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