Despite missing out on his maiden Formula One point, ninth place in the Monaco Grand Prix has provided Scott Speed with the sort of momentum he wants to carry into the North American double-header in Montreal and Indianapolis next month.

Finishing ninth may not seem a big deal but, for an ambitious driver in a back-of-the-grid team, it represents a strong performance, especially on one of the toughest tracks on the schedule. Speed started 18th of the 22 runners and climbed nine places - more than any other driver - by the chequered flag, handing Scuderia Toro Rosso its best result of the season.

"It was great," Speed reflected, "Actually, we have had the potential to do well in a lot of races this season, but it just didn't work out. We had a great race in Malaysia, and it was looking good in Australia and Spain before we had tyre problems. In Bahrain, I got knocked out of the race in the second corner, so every race before Monaco hasn't been too bad - we just haven't finished many of them. So to finish well in Monaco is good. It definitely gives the whole team momentum as we head for North America."

The performance, which came five races into a season which, at one point, looked set not to feature the American, drew praise from team bosses Gerhard Berger and Franz Tost, and made up for team-mate Tonio Liuzzi being forced into the barriers by a cut tyre on lap two.

"Scott drove the whole race without making any mistakes - he really deserved to earn points," Tost commented.