At 41, the Spanish veteran, looking for his first success with Aston Martin, has never been so close to reopening his victory counter, stopped at 32 since 2013.

"After 4 podiums, we obviously want more," he said on the evening of the Miami GP in early May.

If he "may not" have the fastest car on the grid, this weekend, the +Bull of Asturias+ will have less to show the top speed of his car than his qualities as a driver in the narrow and tricky streets of the principality.

But he knows it: in front of him, the powerful Red Bulls will still be very difficult to reach.

Wherever it goes, the bull stable has been everywhere since the beginning of the year: in five rounds, no victory has escaped it, placing its two-time defending champion Max Verstappen three times on the top step of the podium and his teammate Sergio Perez twice.

The latest sign of Red Bull's overwhelming dominance: in Miami, Max Verstappen, who started in ninth position, made a superb comeback to win the GP... in front of Pérez.

Presentation of the circuit in Monte-Carlo of the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix on May © 28 / AFP

Before the 6th round of the season, the Dutchman has a 14-point lead in the championship (119 pts) over the Mexican (105 pts), winner last year in the streets of Monaco. Alonso, "the best of the rest", is in third provisional place, 44 units behind the leader.

Improvements expected at Mercedes

The Monaco GP, the historic F1 event, will be an opportunity for several teams, like Mercedes, to test new improvements initially expected last weekend in Emilia-Romagna.

The sixth race of the calendar, which was also to be the flagship meeting of the season for the Ferrari team, -on "its" Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit - could not be contested because of the floods that affected this region of northern Italy.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in front of press reporters in Monaco, on May 25, 2023 at three days F1 © Grand Prix ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP

But whether at Imola or Monaco, Toto Wolff, the boss of Mercedes, currently 3rd provisional force on the grid behind Red Bull and Aston Martin, has few illusions: this new step in the development of the W14 "will not be a miracle solution".

Leclerc at home

Trailing Red Bull by 146 points - but only 18 points by Mercedes - Ferrari is hoping for a happy surprise with the first victory of its driver Charles Leclerc, 7th in the championship (34 pts), right here on home soil.

So far, "his" circuit has never really smiled on him since at home, the Monegasque has always had to give up between 2017 and 2021, after technical problems or clashes.

Starting from pole position last year before a race that seemed (finally!) promised, the local of the event was a victim of the Scuderia's failed strategy, failing at the foot of the podium.

"I do not believe at all in the curse," swept Thursday the Monegasque in front of the French-speaking press.

"We just have to reset the counters, learn from previous years, where it didn't work to do the best +job+ possible on Saturday, because qualifying is very important here." On the Monegasque track, which is not conducive to overtaking in narrow streets, the positions on the grid are indeed crucial.

On the eve of his first Monaco GP at the head of the Prancing Horse team, Frenchman Frédéric Vasseur is reassured for the moment with the past performances of his drivers in the streets of the principality: "Charles has been on pole for two years and Carlos (Sainz, editor's note) has always finished on the podium in Monaco since he joined the Scuderia", in 2021.

To achieve an irreproachable weekend and benefit from a rare misstep of Red Bull, it is all the evil that we can wish to Ferrari and others to try to revive the Championship.

© 2023 AFP