Sebastian Vettel thinks that gaining confidence on track, rather than simply having the quickest car, will be key to him taking his first Monaco Grand Prix victory this weekend.
Coming off wins in four of the first five races of the campaign, Vettel is the favorite to add to his tally with a triumph on the streets of Monte Carlo. However, having failed to deliver that win on his previous visits, Vettel thinks that his increased experience has made him realize exactly what he needs to deliver this time.
"I always liked this track, and this is important because it is a difficult one," said the World Championship leader. "It is a place where the driver can make the difference, but on the other hand it is a long weekend. There might be some things bothering you, but you have to carry them through the weekend. You cannot change them, so it is not always black and white here. In order to be really quick here, everything needs to be right.
"You need to have the confidence, and the car needs to be according to your liking. I don't think you need to have the quickest car but you need to feel comfortable. Looking at last year, Robert [Kubica] was very fast around here and he is usually very quick around street circuits. The discipline is a little bit different here.
"Yes, you need to be quick, but it is a different kind of track – similar to Singapore. A different technique. There is not a lot of room for errors, but you need to push very hard. That is the key."
Vettel believes that the picture of the Monaco Grand Prix will evolve only once drivers get an understanding of how long the super-soft tire is going to last.
"We have seen crazy races with a lot of things happening with the tires, and we don't know yet what to expect with how many stops," he said. "For sure this could give you the flexibility to try something, whereas in the past it was a one-stop race or maybe a two-stop.
"I don't know how many stops we will have this weekend. It is very hard to judge the super-soft performance, so we will see where we are in practice."
When asked if there was a bigger chance of mistakes this year because of the tire uncertainty, Vettel said: "I think it will be pretty much depend on the wear life of the super-softs. We tested it at some stages. Some teams did in winter testing and I don't have to tell you that it was very cold and the tracks were very different. Jerez obviously had the force put through the tires much more than here, so the tires should last longer and we are going to find out here.
"Then we will see how many marbles and how much pick up there will be. If there is a lot of pick up it could make it very difficult in the race, especially toward the end. It depends how many sets of tires people put on, how many stops we will see. But surely, if you take Turkey for instance, around Turn 8, it was on rails. If you were a little bit out then you were out [of the track]. I don't expect it to be much worse than what we used to have here. It has always been dirty and it is enough for you to go off already. Whether there are marbles on top of that or pick up, you might hit the wall a bit quicker but you still hit it.
"You have to really hit the line and make sure you don't have any mistakes, because that would mean the end of your day."