Sebastian Vettel insists that he remains wary of the threat that Ferrari could pose despite not qualifying as strongly as expected for its home race at Monza.
While the world champion was securing his 40th career pole – and the 50th in Red Bull Racing history – the Scuderia was struggling to make the best of its policy of giving Fernando Alonso a tow. With the Spaniard unable to stay with team-mate Felipe Massa – and apparently letting his team know of his displeasure with their tactics – Ferrari filled places four and five on the grid, with Massa the better placed of its two drivers.
Although Ferrari-powered Nico Hulkenberg also got ahead of the 'works' cars, Vettel still sees Massa and Alonso as the biggest threat outside of Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, who shares the front row.
“I don't know, I don't know, maybe they had a problem,” the German said of Ferrari, “Obviously, they were quite competitive [in] morning [practice] and in the beginning of qualifying, and I think it was very close at the end of qualifying to be fair. Fortunately, I had a bit of a gap but I think everyone behind Nico was quite close to each other.
“We got our job done [in qualifying], but the main job comes up tomorrow so we will see. The races are long, a lot of things can happen. I think Felipe is P4…
“Ferrari was strong in every race this year in terms of race pace, so they will be strong tomorrow as well. I think their long run looked quite competitive - I don't know what they have done exactly in terms of fuel loads, but I'm sure they have the pace and the ability to come through.
“Equally, I wish that Nico stays there, first of all for him and for his team to have a strong result and, secondly, obviously, it would do me no harm in terms of the championship. But, first of all, I have to finish in front of him….”
Although he has tasted success at Monza in the past – most memorably for Toro Rosso in 2008 – Vettel is aware that the Autodromo Nazionale hasn't always been the best of venues for Red Bull, heightening his surprise at claiming pole.
“It's a special track for sure, and it's always nice to come back here,” he said, “We had a very strong pace yesterday and we were able to take that into the qualifying today, [but] I think it's a bit of a surprise to have both cars on the front row at a place where historically we've had bad years. This year, it seems to work well and hopefully we'll have a good race from where we start tomorrow. We're able to match other cars down the straight and we know that, in corners, we have a strong car.”