Formula 1 returnee Alex Wurz has high hopes of opening his 2007 points account in this weekend's glamour-filled Monaco Grand Prix - scene of perhaps his greatest performance in the sport almost ten years ago.

The Austrian - absent from the top flight since 2000 in a full-time capacity - has kept his hand in over the intervening years with testing for McLaren-Mercedes and a one-off race for the Woking squad in San Marino two years ago. A Williams driver now, the Austrian is still most revered for his legendary battle with Michael Schumacher around the tortuous streets of the Principality in 1998, during which he famously got the better of the seven-time world champion following an epic duel. While not expecting a repeat performance this time around, he nevertheless hopes to get himself on the scoreboard for the first time during the season.

"This weekend is going to be very cool," the 33-year-old enthused. "It's just amazing to drive a Formula 1 car through the streets of Monaco. The track gets quicker every session and, once you've built up a rhythm it is just mind blowing how much adrenaline you build up driving between the armco."

Although the shortest lap on the grand prix calendar, Monaco nevertheless places extreme stress on the car and requires a unique set-up direction. Soft tyres and a high downforce configuration are pre-requisites to counter-balance the poor grip levels which play havoc with the track in the opening sessions, while the lap itself is dominated by slow-speed corners and undulations, making solid mechanical and aero balance key.

Wurz equally recognises that the tiniest of errors will be brutally punished by the unforgiving armco barriers, and is well aware of the high physical demands of this most individual of circuits.

"Every corner is difficult and, with the changing track conditions, it is obviously important to be on top of your game," he explained. "In terms of set-up, it is most important that the driver has a good feeling about his car and can drive it with confidence. That is one of the key ingredients for setting a quick lap-time around Monaco.

"In terms of off-track work, Monaco is always the busiest weekend for all the drivers, and that's a challenge in itself. Nevertheless, it is still one of my favourite race weekends of the season. It's as hard as ever to forecast the result for the race; the only thing I can say for sure is that it's going to be a close fight."

 

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