Despite Red Bull's weakest qualifying of the year, Sebastian Vettel is remaining calm for the Italian Grand Prix.
AUTOSPORT heard from the German driver ahead of the Monza race.
Q. Red Bull Racing was bracing itself for the weakest track of the season. Is the result here what you were expecting?
Sebastian Vettel: On Friday we had a very good day and on Saturday morning too we had very good pace. So we were positively surprised by how quick we were. Over the season you get a feel and idea of fuel loads, and how competitive you might be - and which range the others are testing in. So we were actually quite confident. And going into qualifying, right from Q1, we struggled to get up to speed and up to laptime, and repeat the times from the morning.
The others did what you expected - just went quicker. Usually come Saturday afternoon, you bolt new tyres on, you take the fuel out and you go quicker. For us, it wasn't really the case and for myself in qualifying it was quite slow on the straights. We knew that this would be a tough circuit for us but we lost a little bit to ourselves compared to the morning and Friday - where we still had fuel in the car.
Q. You mentioned the straight-line performance. Is there any difference between yours and Mark's set-up?
SV: No. Obviously Mark did not run as smoothly as he wanted to, and I had a smooth Friday and also Saturday morning. On Saturday morning, we were on different downforce levels but in the afternoon we were pretty similar as we taking over the settings I was running. Two identical cars, but he had a bit of a tow which helped him.
But as I said, compared to Friday and Saturday morning, I was quite slow - and losing something between 2-5 km/h, depending on the straight-line. And Monza is full of straight lines so it was quite costly.
Q. Is it a worry for you that Ferrari look back in the title hunt and you have Jenson on the front row?
SV: I think being in my position, I am only sixth for the race, but anything can happen. It is a long race and we know it won't be easy for us to pass a lot of cars with the speed we have, but I don't think it is a bad thing to have someone like Fernando in front. Looking at the championship, it would be worse if Lewis was on pole. Anything can happen. Speaking about Lewis, he is the fastest on the straight-line. If he has a good race tomorrow, I don't think he has any problems to overtake people. That is why we are here and we will have to find out.
Q. How much do you think about going out there and being aggressive to get positions at all costs, and how much have you got one eye on the championship so just thinking about getting points on the board?
SV: I said earlier to someone from TV, that according to all the experts who were speaking up lately about giving me driving lessons and so on, I have two choices - and I am not quite sure what I want to do.
Either, I could follow the experts and how they analysed: I could be a bowling ball and just get rid of the five cars ahead. Or, just approach the race as I usually do: normal. Just try to do the smartest that I can do!
It is a long race. We know it is not an easy one, because simply we are not the quickest. We do not have the pace here, we don't have the speed on the straights - so we will see what we can do. The weapons we fight with are fairly limited but we are here to find out - as we said. We are still optimistic, the pace was good on Friday and in the long runs. I reckon Ferrari was lighter than McLaren and us, so we will see what we are up to tomorrow.
Q. What would you say to your rivals who say that the new load tests have made a difference to your performance?
SV: You have to compare us to our performance here last year. We did a very, very big step forward for Friday and Saturday morning. If you look at what happened last year, I don't think there is any link to any new tests. It is a totally different track here, so if you want to make a judgement I don't think it would change anything.
I think you should at least wait for circuits like Singapore and Suzuka - proper race tracks again. I think Monza is pretty special. Even within the team, sometimes you have a different approach. A very good example is the situation at McLaren - one is on lower downforce and one is on high. Sometimes it is very similar but the conditions change a bit and that can have a big effect. It might be the other way around in the race.
Q. After we leave here there are five circuits that should suit you - so it is all in your hands to win most of them which is what you are going to do. Is that what you are telling yourself?
SV: We are here to win races, so ideally we will win all five. We don't know. We obviously have a very strong car - and we are stronger here than last year to make the point again. We will see how we will do tomorrow. Then, all of the five races you have to take individually and it is a different challenge. Singapore is not like Suzuka - and if we raced five times in Suzuka then it would be more obvious. We have to wait.
We get some new parts for the car, and the others might as well - and I am afraid they do - so depending how big a step they will do, it can change the strengths and weaknesses of the team. We will see, but surely circuits like Singapore, Suzuka and Brazil, or whatsoever, what is then to come in the last five races will suit our car better than the one here.
Q. Last year the track was very slippery on race day. Could that change the balance of power towards those with more downforce?
SV: Yes, completely right. Last year was very special. It was a very special situation because it rained heavily overnight. You had to start similar to this year, but some people had more fuel - and some had less. This year everyone has a lot. Some people started on primes, some on options - this year is the same situation for everyone. Last year, myself, I struggled a lot of the warm-up with the primes, lost connection with the field and we didn't have the pace until the circuit rubbered in.
This year the conditions are most consistent and it will depend on the ambient temperature. How hot it is going to be - and if it is hot like qualifying then it could favour those with more downforce. So someone like Jenson, who has more wing on the car - for us, our hands are tied. They were tied before we came here already, simply because we didn't have enough power to play around. What we have is what we have - and we have to deal with it.
Q. Here is one of the hardest first corners - are you worried?
SV: There are worst places than P6. So, obviously in the midfield it might get a bit tight - how many cars are alongside each other for the first turn and the second chicane, and after that it will calm down. We will see what happens. We will try and have a good start, gain positions at the start - but then there is a long sprint and if you are behind a lot of cars you get a good tow, which allows you to get another one down the straight.
Then hard braking - I think it just helps you if you are a little bit further back. It helps you to gain places, but on pole - it is a long way to F1. Pole is on the outside, he can get out-accelerated. You can go through different scenarios but only you are sitting in the car and you have to see how it happens.