The 2013 Formula 1 world championship started the first part of its European leg on 12 May, when Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa led Ferrari to first and third at the Circuit de Cataluña in Spain. This weekend, the glamorous worlds of Formula 1 and Monte Carlo meet, for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Without doubt the most fashionable, stylish and glitz-filled race weekend on the annual calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix is as much a Formula 1 race weekend as it is an exclusive and expensive party.

Monaco, Monte Carlo

Don't let the champagne and the haute couture fool you though. Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing will be out for revenge, after a relatively poor performance in Spain saw their championship lead eaten into. Ferrari's win and Kimi Raikkonen's second place for Lotus-Renault means Vettel, the defending world champion, now has only a four point lead over the Finn and Alonso's 30 point deficit is now only 17.

Elsewhere down the championship standings, Mercedes continue to play Jekyll and Hyde. Pole sitter Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were simply uncatchable in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, with the duo locking the front row. However, race pace continues to be the German team's Achilles Heel, leaving Rosberg in sixth and the 2008 world champion in 12th.

"The engineering team will be focused on getting the most from our car on the slow, bumpy layout and there will of course be particular emphasis on achieving tyre consistency and durability," team principal Ross Brawn said, adding, "Work continues back at Brackley and Brixworth to fully understand the reasons for our below-par race performance in Barcelona."

Mercedes will need to get their act together fast, with the improving Sahara Force India having already gotten the better of McLaren, so far this season. Can the two Mercedes-engine powered teams overcome their personal demons this weekend?

Felipe Massa [Ferrari]

It is possible. The Monaco Grand Prix is unique not only because of the parties off-track but also because of the circuit. The 3.340km track is a street circuit venue, made entirely of normal roads barricaded and re-painted to form a race track. As a result, it is narrow and bumpy, even if it does offer some spectacular views - the swimming pool section, for one.

Overtaking is at an absolute premium, meaning optimal qualifying pace is a huge advantage. And if Mercedes can re-create their Saturday dominance, then expect either Hamilton or Rosberg to be serious contenders for a first win of the season.

And this is where things could come a little unstuck for Ferrari. The scarlet cars have excellent race pace and seem to use the troublesome Pirelli tyres much better than their competitors. Qualifying pace, however, is a problem.

Alonso's best, so far this season, were the three third places at Malaysia, China and Bahrain. Massa is not much better, with a second place in Malaysia the only highlight. And that shows in race results, with the Brazilian's best coming last weekend, in Spain.

"Overtaking is possible, but only with risk - the best place for that is before the chicane. We come out of the narrow tunnel at more than 300km/h and race to the first gear-chicane - whoever brakes later wins. Ideally you have a good qualifying session and start from far forward," Vettel explains.

The tyres have been at the centre of a controversy this season, with Ferrari joining Lotus in accusing Red Bull of manipulating the Italian manufacturers. The 2013 rubber has been unpredictable and unrealiable, forcing teams to be flexible with strategies and be wary of how their cars handle the rubber. Pirelli will bring revised specs for the Canadian Grand Prix... but that isn't till next month.

For Monaco, they will bring the P Zero Yellow (soft) and P Zero Red (supersoft). Tyre wear may not be that much of an issue at Monaco but that is largely because the track is kind on the rubber. The primary concern will be preserving the rear tyres because of the high downforce nature of the track. Ferrari reckon even a one-stop race may be possible, depending on how hard the driver pushes in the opening laps. Realistically though, a two-stop race is possible.