The GP2 series will be staging a double race at Monaco this year for the first time since its inception in 2005.
The feature race is due to take place tomorrow (Friday) morning while the sprint race will take place on Saturday afternoon. Both will be televised in the UK on Saturday.
Two races into the season and the standings are as follows: Giorgio Pantano and Racing Engineering lead the championships ahead of Romain Grosjean and ART Grand Prix in second place. Sebastien Buemi and Trust Team Arden are third.
The 2008 season has seen four different winners in four races, including three rookie wins from Parente, Kobayashi and Grosjean.
However Pastor Maldonado, for Piquet Sports, has stated his intention to shine in Monaco after making a big splash in the Principality in 2007.
He said: “It’s the most important race in the whole season and the most difficult circuit of the year. You cannot make any mistakes, not even the slightest – it is so narrow and reaction times are so short.
“The track surface has very little grip, you slide a lot and it’s very bumpy. For these reasons, the set-up we use for the car in Monaco is a one-off. We’ll set the car very high off the ground, with very soft dampeners, and using maximum aerodynamics on the wings.
“As it’s incredibly difficult to overtake at Monaco, the most important thing is qualifying; if you are on pole position and at the front of the field, you have 80 per cent of the race in your pocket.
“Perhaps staying focused is the hardest thing of all, especially during the race. You cannot relax for one second, the barriers are so close at all times. Your concentration needs to be 110 per cent.”
He put some weight behind his resolution to do well after recording the fastest lap-times in today’s practice session.
However Adam Carroll, on the second of a two-race temporary return for a depleted Fisichella Motorsport after that team shed a driver, will be looking for a pick-me-up after coming bottom of the session timesheet.
Mike Conway for Trident was 13th, ten places ahead of his less-experienced team-mate Ho-Pin Tung, while Ben Hanley for Campos was 17th, six places behind senior partner Vitaly Petrov.
- Pastor Maldonado, Piquet: 1:21.701
- Andreas Zuber, Piquet: 1:22.176
- Bruno Senna, iSport: 1:22.224
- Andy Soucek, DPR: 1:22.251
- Karun Chandhok, iSport: 1:22.336
- Giorgio Pantano, Racing Engineering: 1:22.595
- Adrian Valles, BCN: 1:22.607
- Romain Grosjean, ART: 1:22.832
- Alvaro Parente, Super Nova: 1:22.917
- Sebastien Buemi, Arden: 1:23.020
- Vitaly Petrov, Campos: 1:23.168
- Christian Bakkerud, Super Nova: 1:23.320
- Mike Conway, Trident: 1:23.438
- Luca Filippi, ART: 1:23.794
- Javier Villa, Racing Engineering: 1:24.173
- Roldan Rodriguez, FMSI: 1:24.201
- Ben Hanley, Campos: 1:24.305
- Kamui Kobayashi, DAMS: 1:24.306
- JerÃ´me d’Ambrosio, DAMS: 1:24.413
- Marcelo Puglisi, Durango: 1:24.495
- Yelmer Buurman, Arden: 1:24.697
- Milos Pavlovic, BCN: 1:25.305
- Ho-Pin Tung, Trident: 1:25.916
- Diego Nunes, DPR: 1:25.925
- Alberto Valerio, Durango: 1:26.769
- Adam Carroll, FMSI, 1:27.352