Formula One

Hamilton aiming for another win in the Monaco GP

Monte Carlo, Monaco ( - The Monaco Grand Prix is not only the most prestigious event on the Formula One calendar, but its the toughest race of the season as well.

Monte Carlo has been one of the most difficult circuits, where overtaking is virtually impossible. Qualifying here is most important, with the pole sitter winning nine of the last 10 races, including the previous five (2009-13).

Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes is attempting to win his fifth straight grand prix. Two weeks ago, Hamilton grabbed the lead in the world championship point standings after winning the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. He holds a three- point advantage over his teammate, Nico Rosberg.

Two practice sessions for the Monaco GP were held on Thursday. In P1, Hamilton posted the quickest lap around this 3.34-kilometer, 19-turn street circuit in 1 minute, 18.271 seconds. Fernando Alonso from Ferrari topped the time charts in P2 with a lap in 1:18.482. Hamilton was second in that session.

"The car is still a work in progress, but it felt really good out there," Hamilton said after Thursday's practice sessions. "I'm feeling pretty set for Saturday. There is still some work to do, but we have [Friday] to look into that and finish all our preparations for the weekend."

Alonso is the only active driver who has multiple victories in the Monaco GP. He won it in 2006, driving for Renault at the time, and again in 2007 when he was with McLaren.

"Here in Monaco, the most important thing in practice is to do as many laps as possible, because it is a very special track and you need to have a good feeling from the car," Alonso said. "Despite the rain reducing the amount of track time in the second session, we more or less managed to complete all of our program. The complexity of this track remains the same, so doing well in qualifying will be crucial."

Hamilton won the Monaco GP from the third starting position in 2008, the same year he captured his first F1 world championship when he was driving for McLaren. This is his second season with Mercedes. He finished fourth in last year's race here.

"I just love racing here," Hamilton said. "This track is one of the coolest ever. It's such a classic race, and I've been trying to win here again since 2008. I'm hoping this is the year, as we have such a great car."

One year ago, Rosberg made history in the Monaco GP when he took the checkered flag 30 years after his father, Keke, won in the principality. The Rosbergs became the first father-son duo to win this race. Keke is the 1982 F1 world champion.

Nico Rosberg resides in Monaco.

"For me personally, it was a very, very special experience [winning the Monaco GP], because it's my home," he said. "It's where I've grown up. My whole life has been centered around Monaco. So to win here was great. And not only that but also it's the race to win. It's the most challenging race to win and the most prestigious race to win, so really that was awesome."

Rosberg won the March 16 season-opener in Australia but has finished second to Hamilton in each of the last four grand prix (Malaysia, Bahrain, China and Spain). He was second in the first practice session for the Monaco GP and 20th in the second practice.

The Monte Carlo circuit features a slower average speed than any other circuit on the current F1 calendar. Teams bring their highest downforce aero configurations, and Pirelli supplies them with its soft and supersoft tires in order to maximize mechanical grip.

This circuit recently had new asphalt placed on significant parts of the track.

Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, May 25. Race: Monaco Grand Prix. Site: Circuit de Monaco. Track: 2.075-mile (3.34-kilometer), 19-turn street circuit. Start Time: 8 a.m. ET. Laps: 78. Miles: 161.887 (260.520 km). 2013 Winner: Nico Rosberg. Television: NBC.

05/23 14:46:00 ET