Jarno Trulli has echoed team-mate Timo Glock's belief that Toyota will prevail in the battle for fourth place in the constructors' championship this season, despite being pegged back by a seemingly Renault in the past two races.
With Glock losing eighth place to a yellow flag infringement in Belgium, and then neither car managing to make it into the points at Trulli's home round last weekend, Toyota has seen a ten-point advantage eroded since the European Grand Prix in Valencia, with the two manufacturer outfits heading into the four remaining 'flyaway' races level on 41.
While Renault may appear to have the momentum, however - with Fernando Alonso finishing fourth in both Belgium and Italy - Trulli is adamant that Toyota did not expect to be as competitive at either race as it had been - and will be - at other rounds this year.
"Definitely we can finish fourth, and we have shown that already this season with a lot of very strong performances," the Italian insisted, "We have been on the podium twice on merit this year and, a couple of races ago, we had a ten-point cushion, which I think was a fair reflection on our competitiveness.
"We were unfortunate at Spa and Monza - two races where we expected to be a little less competitive than usual - and now we have the same points as Renault. It is going to be a really exciting battle because it is so competitive at the moment. Small things can change the situation completely, but I am confident that we can beat Renault because I think the last two races did not reflect our true pace. We will be doing everything we can to fight for more podiums and finish fourth in the championship."
Toyota was one of just two teams to qualify both cars in the top ten at Monza, where incessant rain made predicting the right time to set a lap a tricky task. Toro Rosso was the only other team to manage to get both cars through all three phases of qualifying, with giants Ferrari, McLaren and BMW all losing one along the way.
"Myself, Timo and the whole team did a very good job," Trulli acknowledged, "We didn't expect the TF108 to be at its best in low downforce configuration, so the weather actually did us a favour, even if it made our jobs as drivers a lot tougher. The car did not feel great in the dry running we had on Friday afternoon but, in the wet, we were going well. I was even held up by Sebastian Vettel, who slowed down in front of me before the Parabolica and forced me to lift. It was a dangerous situation in those conditions, and I was only 0.17secs away from fastest Q2 time so, without that incident, I could have been quickest."
After qualifying seventh and running sixth in the race, however, Toyota's decision to run a one-stop strategy for Trulli proved to be the wrong way to go as the track dried and further heavy rain failed to materialise, forcing the veteran to make a second, unplanned, tyre change.
"It was disappointing, but I think it was down to bad luck," Trulli insisted, "We were unfortunate that the strategy didn't work out in those conditions, but you cannot control the way the track or the weather develop throughout the race.
"We felt we had a strong strategy because we were on one stop but, unfortunately, the switchover point from extreme wets to standard wets came a few laps after my only stop. It was not possible to put the standard wets on at my planned stop given the track conditions, so we had to make an extra stop later in the race. If it had rained more heavily again in the middle of the race, as the forecasts were predicting, we would have been looking very good.
"I was not as competitive [on the standard wets] because the car was sliding around a lot, so it just didn't work out for us. We thought Monza might be a difficult race before the weekend, as we were using the harder compound tyres, but, after qualifying, we were more positive. We lost out by needing an extra stop and that was simply bad luck."