Fernando Alonso says Ferrari cannot take it for granted that it will be fast in 2012 even after taking the decision to switch its main focus to the design of next year's challenger.
AUTOSPORT revealed in August that Ferrari's main effort would go on delivering a more aggressive car design for next year, having realised the team was too conservative this season.
Alonso said Ferrari had the potential to be competitive from the outset, but insisted there could be no guarantees given the complex nature of Formula 1.
"It is impossible to be confident or be sure in Formula 1," Alonso declared.
"It is a very complex sport and next year even if you are confident and work 24 hours a day, when you put the car on the track you still have some nice surprises and some bad surprises.
"For next year, we are definitely working very hard to be competitive right from the beginning: that is the aim and the hard job we have to do.
"We have the potential, the right people, the facilities to be competitive right from the beginning."
Alonso's title hopes all but ended in Spa, with the Spaniard now 102 points behind Vettel in the championship. He says that Ferrari still want to win - particularly at their home grand prix - but remain realistic.
"We want to win races no doubt," he said, "but we are also very realistic. We know we were not very competitive in the last two or three grands prix and the updates in the car will be minimum now, so we remain more or less similar.
"Monza is very unique though - we do 100 per cent in every weekend, but here there is an extra care. I think there is a special atmosphere and special motivation, starting from the mechanics and engineers.
"Obviously winning for Ferrari last year was an amazing feeling, with all the passion in Italy that people feel for Ferrari. That is the aim this weekend, to do well and to enjoy the race."