Team Lotus aim to make improvements stick in Monaco
Heikki Kovalainen is targeting his best finish of the season so far at this weekend's iconic Monaco Grand Prix.
The streets of Monte Carlo offer a unique challenge for the Formula One field every year, and this time around the Finn hopes he can improve on his 15th place finish in Malaysia.
As for his team, Norfolk's Team Lotus will be looking to see further improvement from their upgrades to the T128, which offered promising signs at Barcelona last weekend.
'My target is to do the best race and qualifying of the year,' Kovalainen told Autosport. 'Monaco is always a place where you can do better or worse than expected because it's such a unique place.
'I see it as an opportunity for us and I feel comfortable here. We could genuinely be more competitive.'
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Kovalainen's Hingham team-mate Jarno Trulli secured his one and only F1 race win around Monaco, for Renault in 2004.
'I remember when I won it was so busy – I went to the dinner with the Prince that night and that was special, but the minutes and hours straight after the race were almost more intense than the race itself,' said Trulli.
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'However, I don't really like looking back. It'll be great for my kids in the future to know their dad can say he won Monaco, but for me I want to keep looking ahead. I think this year the race will be fascinating.
'Making the top 10 will be hard but we hope that we can get an advantage from this strange circuit. We are optimistic, but realistic about the fact that it's difficult to predict how good the car will be.'
Thursday's free practice sessions – a day earlier than usual because of Friday's public holiday in the principality – seemed to indicate just how close the leading teams will be this weekend.
Red Bull – and especially defending world champion Sebastian Vettel – have been in dominating form for most of the season so far.
However, Lewis Hamilton has his sights set firmly on leading his McLaren to a second victory this season this time around.
'It's fantastic out there: I love the track, I love the weather, it's a beautiful place to be,' said Hamilton. 'I'm enjoying every lap I drive – and I've got the best view of the whole of Monaco when I'm in the car.
'I'm very happy to be here – I'm really pleased with the balance of the car and I kept out of trouble during practice, but it's going to be close here.
'You quickly get used to DRS (moveable rear wing) and Kers (power boost button), but you're only really on it for the pit straight and up the hill; you tend not to use it through the slower sections. Maybe I'll find a few more places to use it for qualifying – but I'll keep that in my pocket.
'I just love driving the car here – it's the best thing I've ever done. It's so exciting. You can't afford to make mistakes, the car feels amazing when you're jumping from kerb to kerb and there's no room for error.
'I want to win this grand prix.'
• Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix takes place on Saturday at 1pm, with the race on Sunday, also starting at 1pm.