Monaco Grand Prix cheat sheet: Why is practice on Thursday, not Friday? Where can I watch it?

Mercedes has scored 98.6 percent of available points so far in season 2019, but surely the Monaco Grand Prix will pose the greatest challenge of keeping their impressive one-two streak alive.

What time does it start? How can I watch it?

This weekend's Monaco Grand Prix is set to get underway at 2:10 p.m. BST and 9:10 a.m. ET. For U.S. viewers, all of this weekend's sessions are live on ESPN:

Thursday -- Practice
Practice 1 - Thursday, May 23, 4:55 a.m. - ESPN2
Practice 2 - Thursday, May 23, 8:55 a.m. - ESPN2

Saturday -- Qualifying
Practice 3 - Saturday, May 25, 5:55 a.m. - ESPN2
Qualifying - Saturday, May 25, 8:55 a.m. - ESPN2

Sunday -- Race
Pit Lane Live - Sunday, May 26, 7:30 a.m. - ESPN3
On The Grid - Sunday, May 26, 8:30 a.m. - ESPN
Race - Sunday, May 26, 9:05 a.m. - ESPN

U.K. viewers can watch every session live on Sky Sports F1. Check local listings for all other territories.

Early practice

Monaco is an oddity on the F1 calendar in that the first half of the week -- the media day, and the opening day of practice -- shifts forward, effectively meaning Friday is an off-day for the F1 paddock. This is because of where Monaco historically has been scheduled, during the Christian festival of Ascension Day, which is also a national holiday in the Principality. The religious theme of the race weekend doesn't end there, either. Turn 1 is called Sainte Devote, named after a tiny, historic chapel located on the outside of the corner.

Although there is no track action on Thursday, drivers are still expected to carry out sponsor duties on Friday, while there is also a fashion show for them to take part in. The day off does not extend to F1's feeder series, however. Formula 2 is allowed to take centre stage, with its feature race taking place on Friday morning. That allows the Monaco circuit's roads to be opened early afternoon (when second practice would ordinarily be taking place) to facilitate the flow of traffic.

The quirky schedule can sometimes provide a fascinating challenge for drivers who have just one hour to rediscover their rhythm in the remaining practice session ahead of qualifying on Saturday.

The burning question: Can Mercedes really win all 21 races this season?

At the beginning of the year, you would have been laughed out of the room for suggesting Mercedes could win every race in season 2019.

Ferrari's dominance in winter testing saw the Scuderia installed as championship favourites for the first time in the V6 era and left many wondering if the Silver Arrows could really mount much of a challenge.

Fast forward three months and the form guide has been ripped up. Mercedes has overshadowed and simply outperformed Ferrari, claiming one-twos in all five races thus far to hold a staggering 96-point lead in the constructors' championship. It's officially the best start a team has ever made to a Formula One season.

Naturally, discussion in the paddock is growing louder around whether or not they can sweep the season. But can it really be done?

No team has ever had the perfect season, but a few have come close. McLaren won 15 of 16 races in 1988 for an impressive strike rate of 93.8 percent. Mercedes themselves came quite close in 2016, winning 19 of 21 races.

This weekend's Monaco Grand Prix will likely be one of the tougher races for Mercedes. Red Bull has been ultra strong in Monte Carlo in recent times and will have a great chance of winning. However, if they do manage to get the job done, a perfect season starts to become even more realistic.

Which car will suit the track?

As great as Max Verstappen has driven this year, he hasn't really had a genuine chance of winning -- until now.

Red Bull, who won in Monaco last year through Daniel Ricciardo, could realistically end Mercedes' run this weekend. The tight and twisty nature of the Monte Carlo street circuit plays right into Red Bull's hands and a win is certainly on the cards if they can string together a clean Saturday.

It would be foolish to put a line through Mercedes, who had the quickest car in the final sector at Barcelona two weeks ago. That section of race track is somewhat similar to what we see in Monaco, so it will likely hold the Silver Arrows in good stead once again.

Down the order, watch for Racing Point to have a strong weekend. Both cars made Q3 in Monaco last year, when racing under the Force India name, and Esteban Ocon went on to finish best of the rest in P6.

The stat files

1:10.810 -- The fastest lap ever recorded around Monte Carlo, set by Ricciardo in 2018's qualifying session.

2 -- Of all current drivers, only Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are multiple Monaco Grand Prix winners.

Germany -- 10 of the past 25 races in Monaco have been won by a German.

15 -- McLaren has won in Monaco more times than any other constructor.

Ferrari × 2 -- The Scuderia has double the amount of podiums (52) than the next best constructor (McLaren with 26) in Monaco.

Tyre talk

Available compounds: Hard C3 (white), Medium C4 (yellow), Soft C5 (red)

Mario Isolo, head of car racing -- "Unsurprisingly, we're bringing our softest tyres to Monaco, with the C5 being broadly equivalent to last year's hyper-soft but designed to give a greater possibility for the drivers to push hard from the start to the finish of each stint. This means that not as much tyre management is needed as the 2018 hyper-soft, but its excellent performance is still maintained. We could be in for a fast race, especially compared to last year. Monaco is like nowhere else, but it's a Grand Prix where every strategic opportunity has to be grasped, especially if there is a Safety Car. With overtaking practically impossible -- as Daniel Ricciardo proved by winning from pole despite a significant technical problem last year -- the time gained and lost in the pits is crucial."

Minimum starting pressures: Front 18.5 psi, rear 17.5 psi

Weather forecast

It seems every time Formula One cars are rolled out in Monaco, the weather is spectacular. This year is no exception with sunny yet cool conditions expected on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

However, if we are to see a downpour it will likely arrive on Saturday ahead of qualifying with afternoon rain currently a 20 percent chance.

ESPN's prediction

After what we've seen in the first five rounds it seems crazy to pick someone not in a Mercedes, but there's one man driving the wheels off his car and will have redemption on his mind when he returns to Monaco.

Winner: Max Verstappen