“We’ll wait and see,” he said when asked how he expected his RB13 car to run here this year. “Certainly, yeah, looking back on last year, a bit of unfinished business, but I will do what I can. I definitely come here with still good feelings, good vibes. The level of confidence is still high, I guess. We’ve got some new parts on the car. We had them in Barcelona, we saw it gave us bits and pieces, but not as much as we obviously still desire.
“We’ve got more this weekend and probably more Monaco-specific as well, so hopefully that will give us more than it did a couple of weeks ago and give us a chance to start leaning on the front guys a bit more.”
Of the team’s disappointing form thus far in a season when they were expected to regain the aerodynamic advantage, and of the likelihood of them regaining the lost ground as the season progresses, he added: “I’ll hope so. It’s hard to predict. I think it was in Bahrain, we seemed relatively strong in qualifying without too much of an answer and then we bring the update and we’re kind of still there, with that same gap.
“I think this weekend is a chance. If you put everything together in qualifying round here it can give you a good chunk of lap times. It’s just having that level of confidence around here which helps and then we’ll see, see what happens after this weekend.
“This one’s fun, yeah, looking forward to it.”
Looking back on the lap that won him pole ahead of Lewis Hamilton last year, and the likelihood of a repeat performance, he said: “From my side, I thought it was all I could do. I was really happy with the lap with the tools I was given but felt like we could have had a better car in some areas of the lap, so I felt a bit limited. I remember through Casino Square there was still quite a bit of understeer, so yeah, it didn’t feel like the front tyres were probably still where they needed to be. But I was pretty happy with the rest.
“This year it’s hard to predict the lap times. We’ve seen on some tracks we’re three or four seconds quicker and others just maybe one and a half or two. But yeah, 13.6s... [his 2016 pole time] If we get below 1m 12s we’re going pretty quick around here. I would expect us to be below 1m 12s, yeah. We’ll see.”