It may not have the manpower or resources of the likes of a Ferrari, McLaren or BMW Sauber, but Sebastian Vettel insists that Scuderia Toro Rosso is just as big a 'team' as anyone else on the Formula One grid.
The German, who set a new F1 record by becoming the youngest grand prix winner of all time at Monza, has spearheaded Toro Rosso's march up the grid, beginning with ill-starred Japanese Grand Prix appearance last season and continuing apace since the 2008-spec STR3 was introduced at Monaco in May. Since the car's debut in the Principality, the 21-year old has racked up six points finishes in nine races - including that maiden outing - and victory in the Italian Grand Prix lifted him into the top ten overall. More ironic, perhaps, is STR's leap-frogging of sister team Red Bull Racing in the constructors championship, having outscored the Milton Keynes outfit 20-2 since Silverstone.
Success at Monza saw Toro Rosso become the first Italian team other than Ferrari to win a grand prix since 1957, and the moment was not lost on Vettel, who appears conscious of the team's humble underpinnings as perennial underdog - and fan favourite - Minardi.
"I think that says it all," the German admitted, "The people might be used to hearing the Italian national anthem for Scuderia Ferrari, but this is very special, very unique for all the team. I think they will never forget this day."
Although he is off, ironically, to RBR for 2009, Vettel knows what debt he owes to Toro Rosso and the people behind the team - and behind the scenes.
"It has been so much fun working together with them," he admitted, "Obviously, it was difficult last year. I made my debut for BMW Sauber but, thanks to Franz Tost, Gerhard Berger, all the team and Red Bull, they gave me the trust and said 'we have a seat for you, take it'.
"Since then, I have seen every possible angle of the grid. It is difficult when you always start from the back and you have to fight your way. You might finish a race in P15 without anyone noticing, but you still might have done a very good job, so you still can be happy and you can walk out of the paddock and be proud of yourself and the team. Now we can be proud of ourselves, celebrating a victory.
"To put these words together, it sounds unbelievable. From where we started last year, the mentality has changed so much. The atmosphere is fantastic, and everybody is extremely motivated. When I jumped in the car before the race, everybody said 'okay, now destroy them' or 'push like hell'. All the guys were joking and were happy and looking forward. In that sense, you could say we had the balls to do it today, and I think we had a fantastic race.
"We controlled it from the start, with great pit-stops and no mistakes, and that is not usual. Compared to BMW or McLaren or Ferrari, we lack a bit of manpower at home in the factory - obviously, we get a lot of help from Red Bull Technology, but still we only have about 160 people working in Faenza - and we have made some crucial mistakes in the past, but I think we've got much stronger. Our pit-stops, especially, have become much more solid, consistent, quicker, better and that is due to hard work from every single person.