Monaco is a tight, twisty circuit that requires excellent traction, precise handling and smooth power delivery. More than any other circuit, the drivers make a difference, being rewarded for consistency and daring to take the cars right to the barriers, and not half an inch beyond - teams strengthen the suspension specifically to handle minor brushes with the wall!
Being a relatively low-speed circuit, drag is not a primary concern, so teams will muster every bit of downforce they can find. Traditionally, this is the circuit where strange aerodynamic solutions make an appearance, not only to improve cornering speed and braking, but also to ensure that the car is effectively balanced, increasing driver confidence.
Overtaking here is very tough (though there were some excellent manoeuvres by Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella to move through the field last year), placing a considerable premium on qualifying and getting a great start. Getting strategy right is vital for making up places.