Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were at the centre of yesterday’s Press Conference in Monza. A lot of questions came from the floor, about the expectations for Ferrari’s home GP, especially after such a good weekend as the one in Spa.
“In the end it was less dominant than you might think. In the end, we did well, and it’s good to see that we are able to improve our car.” Said Sebastian Vettel during the press conference. “We had some bits and a new engine. So we’ll see. Monza in many ways is a bit similar to Spa, but then again obviously if you look at the track and the actual corners, not just the straights, it’s quite a bit different. For sure we want more than a podium.”
Surely, Monza is a special place for Ferrari, but the feeling is that Mercedes might get seriously worried about how strong the red team can be, considering that Spa has always been Silver Arrow’s territory in the last years.
“For the last five years, Mercedes has been absolutely dominant, especially in terms of power unit, and obviously, it’s nice from them to put us in that position because it means they believe they are not the strongest any more. So, it’s good to be up there with them and be a match but I don’t think we can take anything for granted. So, I think we have to work hard to make things happen.”
Lewis Hamilton comments after the Belgian GP confirmed the feeling, saying that Ferrari “got a few trick things going on in the car”, just to then clarify he wasn’t questioning if the car is legal or not.
“In terms of is the car legal or not, there’s the FIA responsible for it and I think we have several checks throughout the weekend to prove that.” Continued the Ferrari driver. “So as long as I don’t hear anything from that front then I believe it’s fine. Same for the others. So, as I said, maybe it’s more a question for him. And for us, it’s to keep out head down.”
To win with Ferrari here would be really special for Sebastian Vettel: he won his first Grand Prix here back in 2008 with Toro Rosso, plus it would be the first win for Ferrari here since Alonso’s 2010.
“There are a lot of friends, a lot of family from all the guys here. We are in Italy, in the home country of Ferrari and I think everybody, not just us drivers, not only the Ferrari drivers, everybody can feel and sense that there is something special going on and I think we have probably the two most special seats this weekend but there are a lot of seats and there will be a lot of people, so to be honesty, looking forward to it. Yesterday was a great way to start the weekend, with the event we had in the city and there were a lot of people and to see how excited they are is definitely different than any other race where I thought people were already excited, but they’re more excited here. So looking forward to getting out in the car and just to look for the same sort of satisfaction and feeling we had last weekend. The car is performing so we hope it stays that way and to make it even better.”
The position in which Ferrari is right now comes from some difficult seasons, like 2016, and according to Vettel there are still “a lot of things we can improve” and that “2016 was a key year for us”.
“I think in terms of setting ourselves up for the future ’16 was the most important year so far – at least since I’m with the team. Obviously ’17 we had a rule change that helped us to use that restructuring in general that’s been going on. I think we, since then, have been able to improve on all fronts. Whether it’s the car, the development throughout the season to keep the pace up; whether it’s engine power and its components.
“I think things are going in the right direction but I think the opponent that we had years ago was very , very strong, still is very, very strong but y’know it’s good to see we are getting stronger and, in some areas, maybe caught up. In some other areas maybe have a little bit of an edge. In the end that’s where we want to be – and beyond that. I think that’s our ambition: to be up there and to be at least on the level so we can fight for it and to keep that level throughout the year, and if there’s a gap then to increase that gap. I think that things are looking in the right way but saying that, we still have a lot of things that we can improve, and still have potential that can be unleashed, a lot of processes that I think can be improved, so we have to work and focus on those and go step-by-step.”