Sebastian Vettel has said that he will allow himself to dream of a possible home win even if he accepts that Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes remain favourite for the Italian Grand Prix.
The German was bumped off the front row of the Monza grid by Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, but was sufficiently impressed by the Scuderia's pace compared to Mercedes to suggest that a victory was not out of the question.
“Hopefully we can both be on the podium tomorrow,” he said of himself and his team-mate, “I'm sorry, Lewis, but I hope you are off the podium… you can be on it but, if we are both ahead of you that would obviously be a dream come true.”
With Mercedes introducing an uprated V6 this weekend, Friday's practice did not bode well for anyone else, but Ferrari closed the gap in qualifying and took advantage of Nico Rosberg's enforced pre-session engine change to squeeze both drivers between the Silver Arrows on the grid. Hamilton, however, retains the use of his new engine, and Vettel admits that overcoming the reigning world champion might be a tall order…
“I think dreaming is allowed, but we have to be realistic,” he reflected, “I think it will be a hard race tomorrow as these guys have some serious pace in the race as we have found out many times this year. Nevertheless, we will try to fight and do everything we can to put people behind us. It is not a secret that we are not yet where we want to be but I think, today, we are a bit closer and so we need to take the next steps to please, not only the people in the grandstand, but also the people inside the garage.”
With the expectations of the tifosi
obvious, and a host of Ferrari bigwigs in the garage, Vettel insisted that there had been no secret formula to closing the gap, but insisted that the performance had been genuine.
“I think, generally, we try to make steps forward at every race so, naturally, you have some small bits and pieces to try and help the performance overall,” he noted, “We did for here, but nothing special just because it's our home race.
“I think we learned a lot in Spa, which is similar conditions to here in terms of downforce. We weren't happy with the balance of the car [in Belgium], but I think we found a better balance and the car kept coming to us this weekend and that is the biggest reason why the gap is [smaller] than usual. You never know what other people are doing – maybe they were struggling or Lewis was not as happy as he usually was – but, in the end, it doesn't matter. We had a very good session, qualified second and third because we were second and third quickest today.”
Asked whether he had a chance to repeat his win from 2008, when he used a wet weekend to give Toro Rosso its one and only victory, Vettel admitted it would be an upset.
“I think there is always a chance obviously but, in 2008, I was on pole which I didn't manage today,” he pointed out, “I think, if it is dry tomorrow, I will have a much better chance that if it had been dry in 2008. The bottom line is that I think it is always possible to have a surprise. We've already had some surprises this year, so we like surprises – and, if we have a surprise tomorrow, it would be a nice surprise!”