The sparkle was back in Lewis Hamilton’s eyes yesterday as he finally rekindled his love affair with Formula One.
Since the ’lie-gate’ scandal erupted following an Australian Grand Prix from which he was disqualified, the world champion has been a distant, troubled figure.
A McLaren far from worthy of the number one status it carries has not helped his cause, nor his demeanour that on occasion has been distinctly off-hand.
What a difference returning to Monaco has made to Hamilton, a venue and a circuit like no other, one the 24-year-old has adored over the years and has now helped him rediscover his passion for F1.
In a car suited to its’ tight, twisty nature, Hamilton finished the day second quickest overall, arguably threatening a repeat of last year’s success here, one of the highlights of his career.
With a smile also creasing his lips, a happy-again Hamilton said: "That’s from Monaco.
"I love driving this circuit, it’s a spectacular thing. You can never compare it to any other circuit you go to, or any other experience.
"It really is such a huge buzz, it feels amazing and it reminds me of just how much I love racing, love driving and why I love Formula One.
"It’s real driving, kind of back-to-your roots street racing. It’s fantastic.
"When you drive here you do have to be very brave, to have complete confidence in your car and your team, to be at one with yourself to extract the most."
Hamilton, sporting the number one on top of his helmet made from diamonds, is naturally cautious about his chances of shining on Sunday.
"It’s definitely exciting to be back at the front again," said Hamilton.
"We didn’t really know what to expect, but after this morning and afternoon, we genuinely do have quite good pace.
"It definitely gives me a better fighting chance for this weekend in terms of getting the car further up the grid, to get more out of it, but the others look very strong.
"I’m hoping to shoot for fifth on the grid, something like that would be a respectable position. If we can do even better then it would be fantastic.
"Whether front row is realistic, I don’t know. I’ll see what the engineers think, but it’s difficult to say without knowing what everyone else is doing fuel-wise.
"I’m optimistic, and I’m going to remain that way, although we’ve some work to do to make a couple of steps forward for the future."
It prompted the question that maybe even Jenson Button, winner of four of this season’s five grands prix, is beatable this weekend.
"I think everyone is beatable. Anyone can do a quick lap over one single lap, but it’s how you do it over a period of time," added Hamilton.
"At least we definitely look much more competitive this weekend."
As to whether he is genuinely back in business, it prompted an honest reply with the high-speed circuits of Istanbul’s Otodrom and Silverstone to come next month.
"I wouldn’t say that, no," responded Hamilton.
Beyond his remit of simply driving the car, the bigger rumbles on behind the scenes as Ferrari wage war with the FIA over next year’s proposed budget cap regulation.
“It isn’t good for the sport,” said Hamilton.
"It doesn’t really matter what I think about it. They are going to make their decision at some stage. I just have to focus on my job.
"As long as my team stays here then I have always got a job and I can work towards winning more world championships.
"I personally love the sport. It has been fantastic and even more exciting just from my personal experience of being involved for the last couple of years, seeing how close it has been.
"There are still more and more changes to come, and I don’t see the necessity of it."