Monaco: Rock-solid

The 2008 GP2 Series prepares for the third Round of the Championship which will happen in Monte Carlo this weekend.

It is finally that time of the year! All eyes will be turned this weekend towards one unique and sparkling rock. Monaco is definitely the jewel in the crown of the GP2 Series Calendar and it is often considered as the most prestigious event of the season. This gives all the more reasons for the 26 GP2 drivers to give their best along the 3.340km street circuit and in front of the F1 Paddock.

For the first time since its inception, the GP2 Series will race twice at the Monaco event, with the first Race taking place on Friday morning and the second one on the following day at 16:00. After two exciting rounds, veteran Giorgio Pantano and Racing Engineering are leading the championships ahead of Romain Grosjean and ART Grand Prix while Sebastien Buemi and Trust Team Arden complete the Top 3. The 2008 season has seen four different winners in four races, including three rookie wins - Parente, Kobayashi and Grosjean. But there is one driver who has every intention to glint at the wheel of his Piquet Sports car: Sophomore Pastor Maldonado, also the first poleman of the season, in Barcelona.

In 2007, the Venezuelan ace dominated the Monaco race scoring his first GP2 win. He commented: "To win in Monaco is fantastic. It's the most important race in the whole season and the most difficult circuit of the year. You cannot make any mistakes, not even the slightest - it is so narrow and reaction times are so short." Pastor added: "Remember, this is a street circuit and so the track surface has very little grip, you slide a lot and it's very bumpy. For these reasons, the setup we use for the car in Monaco is a one-off. We'll set the car very high off the ground, with very soft dampeners, and using maximum aerodynamics on the wings. As it's incredibly difficult to overtake at Monaco, the most important thing is qualifying; if you are on pole position and at the front of the field, you have 80 per cent of the race in your pocket." He concluded: "Perhaps staying focused is the hardest thing of all, especially during the race. You cannot relax for one second, the barriers are so close at all times. Your concentration needs to be 110%, and at the end of the race you must feel totally drained - but mentally, rather than physically. When it's like this, you know you have done it right, you have given your maximum."