Lewis Hamilton has said that such is the way the 2012 F1 season is going, it would be unwise to count anyone
out as a potential race winner in Monaco this weekend.
Despite claiming pole position at each of the first two rounds, and been a threat for pole at the remaining races - including being stripped of top spot in Spain last time out after a rules infraction - the Briton is still without a win in 2012. He is not alone, however, and it is notable that, although there have been five different winners in as many races, those sitting third, fourth and fifth - Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Mark Webber - in the standings have yet to find the top step of the podium. When Pastor Maldonado can give Williams its first victory in eight years, though, you can understand Hamilton's point of view.
"It is an unusual season with winners you would have never guessed," the 2008 world champion told the official F1 website, "[But] it is great for the fans, as every race translates into a thriller. As a team, we have shown great performance [but], unfortunately, we couldn't translate that into multiple wins. Be sure we will try something this weekend."
While team-mate Jenson Button's fastest time on the opening day may have given Hamilton and McLaren optimism for the rest of the weekend, they would also be the first to point out that the mark was set on supersoft rubber before rain arrived to make the rest of the session a lottery.
"I think we got a bit of an understanding of how quick people are," Hamilton claimed, "The Lotus looks pretty quick, [but] I am not quite sure what Red Bull is up to. Ferrari looks fast and so do we, so you have the usual suspects, but we have seen before that it would be dead wrong to underestimate all others. It will be key to get the tyres to temperature and, for qualifying, to get out for your fast lap at the right moment as traffic can be deadly here.
"Had it stayed dry, we would have most likely seen a different result. My guess is that, if it stays dry on Saturday, we will see much faster times - so fingers crossed that it stays dry. We haven't managed to do any proper long runs, and I doubt that we will be able to do that on Saturday morning, so my guess is that we are going blind into qualifying in terms of tyres - and probably even blind on the tyres for the race. I guess this weekend will be a box of surprises for us all."
After several years of making Monaco one more stop on his global schedule, this year sees Hamilton approaching his 'home' race in the Principality, having moved there from Switzerland ahead of the season. The move clearly works for the Briton, too, giving him a different kind of lifestyle to that to which he become accustomed.
"When I lived in Switzerland, it was one of the most beautiful countries I'd ever been to," he admitted to journalists ahead of the Monaco weekend, "The weather was a little bit like England but, more often, it was better weather, but I was living away from the city and it was very quiet. It took ages to go out to a restaurant. I couldn't jog down to a restaurant, or walk to a restaurant.
"Here, it's sunny every day which makes a big difference; there are great restaurants a couple of minutes from where I live; there's a gym where I live; there's a pool where I live. Before I used to have to drive half an hour to get to the gym, so things were just less fun there. I'm still in my twenties, so I feel like I need to make sure I continue to enjoy them more and, since I've been here, I've been much happier.