MONTE CARLO, Monaco, May 24, 2012 (AFP / Tim Collings) - Two weeks after their dramatic fire-shrouded triumph at the Spanish Grand Prix, the Williams Formula One team will seek more glory in this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.
Having rocked the sport thanks to Venezuelan Pastro Maldonado's maiden triumph at the Circuit de Catalunya, where a post-race blaze destroyed their garage equipment, the team have been thanking their rivals for their generous assistance to make sure that they can compete in the Mediterranan
Williams engineering chief Mark Gillan on Tuesday praised not only his own staff for their great effort, but the brave help from others, in making sure that the quintessentially British team can take their place in the pit lane for the most glamorous race on the calendar.
Gillan said: "Our preparations for Monaco have been hampered by last Sunday's garage fire, but the impact of the fire was mitigated by what can only be described as a Herculean effort by the factory and our suppliers to restock both the damaged equipment and our car parts.
We would like to thank the generous offers of help from the other teams, highlighting once more the excellent sportsmanship that exists in Formula One and the high levels of camaraderie in the pit lane."
Williams lost nearly all of their garage infrastructure and their IT equipment in the blaze that gutted the garage less than two hours after Maldonado had become the first Venezuelan to win a Formula One race.
That win, and the commanding fashion in which it was achieved, not only supplied a fifth different race winner this year in five races, but also installed the Latin American as a serious contender for more success. He, like many, will fancy another win this weekend.
Gillan said: "We have more upgrades on the way for this event and we are hopeful that we can continue to make decent progress and look forward, again, to a good weekend."
To win, of course, Maldonado will have to qualify as well as he did, or better, at Barcelona because anything less, on the unforgiving streets of this tight, twisty and hugely-challenging street circuit, reduces race-winning chances dramatically.
After his early season speed in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, the 2008 champion, will be among the favourites along with his team-mate and compatriot Jenson Button, and the defending double world champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull.
Vettel won last year to extend Red Bull's domination in Monaco to two straight wins following Australian Mark Webber's spectacular win in 2010.
The McLaren, Lotus and Ferrari teams will also fancy their chances with two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari especially keen to do well and stay among the leaders in the drivers' world championship.
His team president Lucadi Montezemolo this week made clear that he believes the Italian squad's fate in the championship is now back in their own hands after Alonso finished a rousing second behind Maldonado in Spain.
That result means that Alonso is now tied in the lead of the championship with Vettel.
"The championship is very open and so far, there has not been one dominant force," wrote di Montezemolo in a letter to his staff.
"A series of circumstances and the work done here to improve the car, as well as Alonso's great ability, has led to us leading the championship after five rounds," he said.
"We must capitalise on that, with each one of us giving our very best at home and at the race track, including Massa, who "I know from (teammanager, Stefano) Domenicali, with whom I am in constant contact, how hard all of you are working.
"Of this I am sure, also because winning the championship depends only and exclusively on ourselves: on our ability, our creativity, our determination and our desire to show that we are the best."