After missing out on the trip 12 months ago, Fernando Alonso admits he is excited ahead of his first Monaco Grand Prix in two years.
Famously the double world champion skipped Formula 1's most prestigious race in 2017 as he entered the Indianapolis 500 with a McLaren-backed Andretti Autosports entry as part of his ambition to win motorsport's 'Triple Crown'.
With the WEC and Le Mans 24 Hours his extra-curricular activity of choice this year, it means Alonso will be back racing on the streets of the Principality, where he has one victory to his name in 2005.
"Heading back to Monaco will be really exciting after a little break last year!" he said. "I loved the Indy experience of course, but Monaco is also a really special place to go racing, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a famous venue for a Grand Prix.
"It’s one of the most technically challenging circuits of the year simply because of the level of skill and concentration you need to get around lap after lap 78 times, as well as negotiating the traffic, strategy, weather and everything else this crazy race throws at you.
"I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel there for the first time in two years and seeing how our car performs."
For McLaren, Monte Carlo is also expected to be their most competitive weekend of the year so far, as the lack of straights negates their weakness in top speed and the team often like to insist their chassis is one of the best on the grid.
The early races of this year didn't seem to back that up, however, until an upgrade in Spain allowed Alonso to make it into Q3 for the first time and now the 36-year-old is sure the British team can compete at the head of the midfield.
“We knew that the upgrades would put ourselves in a better position in the midfield pack and we did a good step," he stated.
“We were eight tenths behind Renault in Baku, nine tenths behind in China, but [in Spain] we were the same in qualifying and in the race.
“I think we caught up with Renault and probably with Haas as well."
More specifically on McLaren's chances this weekend, he added: "Monaco is one of those tracks that tends to level the playing field a little and it’s a bit like throwing a dice.
"As we saw in Spain, even if you qualify well it doesn’t mean you won’t fall victim to drama which can change things around.
"So, we need to maximise everything on Saturday, and then fight hard on Sunday to earn as many points as possible."
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