MONACO (Agencies) -Sebastian Vettel's rivals are fast running out of ways to catch him, and the introduction of Pirelli's new supersoft tire at Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix could prove to be yet another false dawn. Vettel has already opened up a commanding 41-point lead over Lewis Hamilton by winning four of the opening five races, and the odds on the German defending his F1 title will shorten further if he wins in Monaco for the first time. Because Monaco's track traditionally also offers little scope for overtaking, Hamilton needs a strong performance in qualifying to threaten Vettel, who says "grid position is very important and can determine your race." The introduction of a new hard tire compound at last week's Spanish Grand Prix, coupled with the aerodynamic advantage of the rear adjustable wing (DRS), briefly raised expectations that Vettel could be vulnerable after failing to take pole position for the first time this season. But in the end it changed little, with the Red Bull driver beating Hamilton to win again. Now, for the first time, Pirelli's super soft tires will be tested on a track considered the slowest on the calendar. Vettel enhanced his reputation for coolness under pressure with the skillful way he held off a strong challenge from Hamilton's McLaren in the final few laps in Barca. But even though he has a big lead, Vettel is far from complacent heading into Monaco, where he expects the circuit to throw up a few surprises. "It's a completely unique track and a unique challenge for the driver. You have to push as hard as on a normal race track, but the smallest mistake can bring a big penalty," he said. "Managing the traffic during qualifying in Monaco is also a big challenge. As an event, it's one of the highlights of the year. We did well there last year and I hope we can be very strong again." Hamilton is the only driver to have beaten Vettel this season, when excellent team strategy helped McLaren outwit Red Bull in China, igniting hopes that the F1 championship would be thrown wide open-until Vettel won again in Turkey. The English driver believes he is a match for Vettel in terms of ability and hopes the Monaco track will even out differences between their cars. One reason for Red Bull being so dominant in qualifying-Mark Webber took pole in Spain, and Vettel the other four races-is that the car has so much downforce and can afford to have the DRS open for a lot more of the lap in qualifying. That advantage then disappears in the race because it can only be used in one place. Hamilton hopes this plays to his advantage in Monaco. "It's a circuit where high-speed downforce is less critical and where the driver can make a difference, so it should be a strong track for us," Hamilton said. "I'm really looking forward to Monaco this year because I think we'll see a different race from previous years. I think a combination of DRS, KERS Hybrid and the tires will really make the racing come alive, and I'd love to see some overtaking action and some hard racing." Red Bull finished last year's Monaco GP 1-2, with Webber edging Vettel into second place. Webber will need a similar performance to genuinely kickstart his title challenge. Webber finished a disappointing fourth in Spain despite starting from pole and the Australian is already 51 points behind his Red Bull teammate. "It's a track that I've always seemed to do reasonably well at and I have some of my best memories as a racing driver there," Webber said. "It's clearly a demanding street circuit, which requires incredible concentration and composure for the drivers throughout the weekend." Jenson Button, Hamilton's McLaren teammate, is 57 points adrift, while two-time former champion Fernando Alonso is 67 back as Ferrari continues to struggle. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh hopes Monaco brings the best out of Button. "Both our drivers have won the Monaco Grand Prix (before), and McLaren has an enviable record around the streets of the Principality," Whitmarsh said. "We've won the race on 15 occasions which is more than any other team, and we go into next weekend aiming to make it 16." Frustration, meanwhile, has got the better of Whitmarsh's Ferrari counterpart, Stefano Domenicali, after the team's slow start to the season escalated into a nightmare scenario on Barcelona's Catalunya Circuit last weekend. Having started the race strongly, Alonso led for 18 laps and then dropped down to finish fifth, while Felipe Massa slid off the track and failed to finish, prompting Domenicali to call it the "worst race of the season."