|© LAT Photographic/McLaren
Sergio Perez knows all about the perils of racing in Monaco, yet the Mexican says the only way to tackle Formula 1's notoriously complex circuit is with outright aggression.
The 23-year-old Perez was concussed in a crash during qualifying in his rookie season two years ago, and last year one of his rear wheels flew off as he plunged into the crash barriers hurtling around the glistening harbour section of the track.
Perez was kept for two nights at Princess Grace hospital following his crash in 2011. He had lost control of his Sauber coming out of a tunnel section and the front of his car slammed into the tunnel's barrier before spinning and crashing into a tyre wall.
But even though the injuries could have been far worse, this has not put him off.
"Yes, I had a big crash in my rookie season with Sauber. But that is all about Monaco. If you are not going to the limit you are not going anywhere here," he said. "It can go wrong here at any time, to anybody. So it is important to be right at the limit -- all the time -- otherwise you will not find a lap time here."
There was also a spectacular crash on Thursday's second practice run. Romain Grosjean misjudged the turn at Sainte Devote and the front of his Lotus smashed into the barriers. The Frenchman was unharmed.
Finding speed has proved elusive for struggling McLaren and Perez's promising partnership with 2009 champion Jenson Button has yet to blossom. On Thursday, Perez was ninth fastest in first practice and 12th in the second run.
"We tried a lot of things during today's practice sessions. Not everything worked," Perez said. "I actually think Saturday will be the most important day of the weekend. Everyone will be trying to save tyres so as to have as few stops as possible in the race."
But he thinks it will take a little more time for McLaren to become truly competitive.
"I expect it to be a couple of races for us to turn everything around. By the British GP would be a good turnaround, though it's difficult to say we are going to be on the podium there," he said. "At the moment, where we are, we look very far away. But McLaren is a great team working flat out."
Perez had three podium finishes last season but has finished no higher than sixth so far this campaign -- at the Bahrain GP -- and his best qualifying position is eighth in Barcelona.
To have any hope of securing a podium position in Monaco, Perez will need to improve.
"The target for us is to do better here because qualifying is so crucial," he said. "This track asks everything from a driver, as your only reference is the walls that you'd better not touch. So experience definitely helps. This is not exactly a rookie track -- as I learned two years ago."
With speeds lower and little overtaking, there will be fewer pit stops than when the Pirelli tyres quickly degraded in Barcelona two weeks ago.
"It will make a difference if you can do only one stop or have to settle for two," Perez said. "If you manage to do only one it means that you will gain a lot of time compared to those having to stop twice, as you will never be able to make up the time. Not in these narrow streets where overtaking is something of a miracle."