McLaren at the 2012 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix

McLaren at the 2012 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix

Round six of the 2012 Formula 1 season takes place around the streets of Monte Carlo, home of the Monaco Grand Prix.

The race is the shortest of the year, yet arguably the most demanding, which is one of the reasons it remains a highlight of the F1 calendar even after all these years.

The Monaco Grand Prix was on the inaugural F1 calendar back in 1950 and it’s been a regular fixture since ’55. The layout of the 2.1-mile circuit has remained largely unchanged, the biggest updates taking place in 2004 when a new pit complex was built.

The track has the slowest average speed of any circuit in F1, but the proximity of the barriers and the lack of run-off make it mentally absorbing for the drivers. Most of the corners are blind and the track surface is often slippery, particularly at the beginning of the race weekend.

Predictions for this weekend's weather are mixed, and we’ve already seen some rain during practice on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, this will be the first race this year where both the soft and super-soft tires will be available.

As always in Monaco qualifying will be critical, as will race strategy to ensure that track position is maintained.

Going into qualifying tomorrow, Red Bull Racing star Sebastian Vettel and formidable Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso lead the pack with an equal 61 points. Not far behind is McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton on 53 points, followed by Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen with 49 points and Red Bull Racing’s other driver Mark Webber rounding out the top five with 48 points.

Red Bull Racing leads the Constructors title with 109 points, followed by McLaren 11 points back, Lotus third, Ferrari fourth and Williams tied for fifth with Mercedes.

So far this season we’ve seen five different winners in five races; could the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix produce a sixth new winner?