After one of the most dramatic Formula One races of recent times last time out in Spain, the Monaco Grand Prix is in the unusual position of having something to live up to.
After one of the most dramatic Formula One races of recent years last time out in Spain, the Monaco Grand Prix is in the unusual position of having something to live up to.
The iconic track will pit Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton into close-quarters competition just two weeks after their collision at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Remarkably, that incident ended up having to share the spotlight following the stunning triumph of teenage prodigy Max Verstappen.
On his Red Bull debut, the 18-year-old offered a tantalising glimpse of what may be to come as he became the youngest winner in F1 history.
Monaco will provide an even sterner test of his potential, particularly with reigning champion Hamilton and standings leader Rosberg in need of a morale-boosting victory.
HAMILTON AND ROSBERG AIM TO SHARE PODIUM, NOT BLAME
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff remained diplomatic in the wake of the Barcelona drama, but a repeat performance from his drivers might prompt an altogether less measured response.
Rosberg still tops the standings after four prior race wins, while the Briton has work to do to bridge a 43-point gap to the summit.
Debate raged over where to apportion blame for the first-lap crash, with pole-sitter Hamilton losing his advantage over his team-mate and the pair coming together on Turn Three as they both slid out of the race.
Wolff will hope that the duo will be sharing a podium come Sunday and not attracting headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Hamilton qualified first at Monaco last year, but it was Rosberg who ended up taking the chequered flag.
CAN VERSTAPPEN BACK UP THE HYPE?
Verstappen's drive in Spain was imperious, showing grit and technical brilliance to keep Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen at bay for a historic triumph.
It proved an incredible introduction to the biggest stage for the Dutch youngster, who will take to the track in Monaco with a new pressure on his shoulders – expectation.
In a sport where underdog winners are so rare, Verstappen's success was warmly received and he will be dreaming of further glory.
His name is the one on everyone's lips and if he could spring another shock on Sunday, he could yet find himself thrust into an unlikely title tussle.
Sporting venues do not come much more iconic than Monaco and the narrow, winding track – measuring just over 3.3 kilometres in length – presents a major test of nerve and skill for the drivers, who will make more than 3,600 gear changes during the race.
Grid positions are perhaps more vital here than anywhere else, so expect a hard-fought qualifying session. In a high-speed sport, Turn Six reduces the field to a relative snail's pace as they negotiate the famous hairpin at 50km/h.
It is expected to be warm and dry on Friday and Saturday, but the threat of rain for race day on Sunday will have teams pondering their tactics.
Mercedes duo Hamilton and Rosberg have gone for one soft, two supersoft and 10 ultrasoft, an approach also favoured by Red Bull.
Ferrari, meanwhile, have opted for two soft, two supersoft and nine ultrasoft.