MONACO • Lewis Hamilton has described the Monaco Grand Prix as the "unicorn of races" - the track where victory has mostly eluded him.
The triple-world champion has only won the prestigious race twice in 10 attempts - in 2008, the same year he won his first title, and again last year, taking advantage of a mistake made by Red Bull.
He has been in contention for the top step many more times but a win has proved to be more elusive than he would have liked - which is what one would assume unicorn means.
"I've not won here many times, when you think with the pace that I've had over the years. It's always proven to be the most... not the Achilles' heel, but the unicorn of races," the 32-year-old said.
"That one that just always gets away from you.
"There's definitely been I would say at least two, maybe three, that I probably should have had, but other things came into play."
The possibility of Hamilton winning around the 3.337km Monte Carlo street circuit could be as realistic as a unicorn given the team's performance on Thursday.
Mercedes said they had got the set-up wrong between first practice in the morning, when Hamilton had been quickest, and the second in the afternoon that saw the Briton languishing down in eighth with team-mate Valtteri Bottas in 10th.
"In second practice we just struggled to extract the grip from the tyres and we were sliding around a lot," Hamilton said.
Mercedes have had issues working their tyres all season: bringing them into the right temperature of their operating window has proved to be difficult.
Hamilton trails Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who was quickest all afternoon on Thursday setting a 1min 12.720sec lap, by six points in the world championship.
Mercedes will be grateful for the Monaco tradition of having Friday off, giving them much-needed time to fix their issues ahead of qualifying today and race day tomorrow.
THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON