Lewis Hamilton is upbeat about his chances and hoping for his first podium finish in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Monaco is unique in that being a tight city street circuit, there are very few high speed corners making the McLaren’s lack of aerodynamic efficiency much less of a problem.

What Monaco really does do is make the driver a far more important component in the equation for a fast lap. Watching Hamilton in the two practice sessions on Thursday was very much a heart in your mouth experience as he was delighting spectators with power slides and four wheel drifts just inches from the barriers, producing lap times right up there with the fastest.

Thank goodness traction control is no longer with us and we can see sheer driver control have such a huge impact on lap times. It is refreshing to see that the top “team and driver” combinations are leading the charge for supremacy in Monaco.

So who does Hamilton have to beat at Monaco to come out on top?

The Brawn Mercedes pair of Button and Barrichello will be the hardest. They are two superb drivers in an equally superb car. Plus there is the Ross Brawn factor when it comes to strategy. – All in all, a hard combination to beat. As in Spain Barrichello has been making the early running and Button has been close behind and catching up. His first two fast laps on super soft tyres in practice two were blocked by other cars in heavy traffic, he then wound up to 7th and right at the end of the session popped up to 4th. I think there is a bit more to come from Button though.

The Red Bull pair of Vettel and Webber also look a difficult combination to beat. Vettel continues to lead the way in practice two, and Webber after his long heavy stint in Spain could do well here as well.

We can never rule out Ferrari, who have made giant leaps forwards in the last few weeks. If they can work out a strategy that is sound and that allows Massa to “get on with the driving” I am sure that following his pole last year he will be a man to watch.

As for Williams and the charges of “Showboating” in the practice sessions, Nico Rosberg does seem to be doing well in Monaco.

We have seen Hamilton driving the socks off his McLaren in Spain for a 5th place finish and I am sure we will see an even better effort and result here in Monaco.

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